Tax dollars are wasted building electric vehicle charging stations in cold climates

IIt’s winter with high temperatures well below freezing in Jackson, Wyoming and just above freezing in Wyoming’s capital, Cheyenne.

Only relying on battery-powered electric vehicles when it’s cold takes courage, because car batteries lose their charge quickly at low temperatures. Still, the federal government wants to spend billions to build charging stations across the country — including in cold-weather states where electric vehicles are often impractical.

Cold temperatures are one reason Wyoming only had 510 registered electric vehicles, or EVs, at the end of 2021 (the last full year available). That’s one in 1,135 residents, compared to one in 69 residents in California and one in 228 residents in Florida, according to the Department of Energy.

Despite this, Wyoming was granted $27 million of the $7.5 billion that the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates to states to build electric vehicle charging stations. That equates to over $52,000 per EV in the state.

Wyoming is turning down the funds because the Cowboy State doesn’t want to be responsible for maintaining a system of charging stations spaced 50 miles apart, as required by the Infrastructure Act. Wyoming requested that the charging stations be placed only on minor freeways in the tourist areas near Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, but the federal government refused.

As Congress considers raising the debt ceiling, such wasteful spending should be cut.

Three states in similarly cold climates also get large per-vehicle subsidies, according to the Department of Transportation.

North Dakota has the fewest EV registrations in the United States: 380. It receives $26 million for charging stations, or $68,000 per EV registered. $52M Alaska Gets $40,000 Per EV; and South Dakota will raise $43,000.

These three states, like Wyoming, are cold-weather states. West Virginia, which has 1,010 electric vehicles, will receive $46 million, or $46,000 each.

California gets a much larger allocation for its charging stations — $384 million over five years. Drivers in the Golden State use electric vehicles, so stations get at least some use. Per vehicle, this works out to US$682 per EV registered.

But as California drivers steer expensive Teslas and Hummers down sunny freeways, sensible people might be wondering why electric charging stations for the affluent need to be taxpayer-provided.

President Biden believes these public charging stations will encourage Americans to buy more electric vehicles. The White House announced, “President Biden’s leadership is mobilizing public and private charging investment to accelerate EV adoption and create high-paying jobs in manufacturing, installation and operations.”

In some states, more EVs may be purchased due to more charging stations, but EVs cannot defy the laws of physics and are unlikely to be popular in cold climates.

Americans know that car batteries are sensitive to cold. Many of us have woken up on a cold winter morning to find our car batteries dead and in need of a jump start or replacement. The American Automobile Association has a fleet of small vehicles whose sole purpose is to rescue troubled motorists in cold situations.

A study by truck maker Autocar shows that electric vehicles lose an average of a third of their range in winter, reducing the typical range from 240 miles to 160 miles. If a heat pump is added to the car, the loss is less, but the 240-mile range would still shrink to 180.

The car results varied in the tests. The Fiat 500 42kWh Icon lost 40% of its range in winter. The Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD lost 35% and the Porsche Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus with heat pump lost 22%. (The Taycan ranges in price from $83,000 to $166,000 depending on trim).

Gasoline engines also work less efficiently in extreme cold, but the damage is not as great as with electric cars.

Unless battery technology changes, electric vehicles will not be all-season vehicles in cold climates. In such states, only high-income individuals can afford the luxury of owning a vehicle that cannot be used efficiently for much of the year.

Elsewhere, most electric vehicles are expensive and mostly owned by higher-income people. There is no need for average earners in Wyoming or anywhere else to use their tax dollars to subsidize high-income electric charging stations.

It is a waste for Congress to build charging stations in states where electric vehicles cannot be used for many months of the year. In fact, it’s foolish to spend money on “infrastructure” that only benefits wealthy people who don’t need government support.

If tens of millions of dollars magically showed up in Wyoming or other cold-weather states with no strings attached, the money would almost certainly be used for a better cause than electric charging stations. Individual states could instead build roads suitable for all vehicles or lower taxes for residents and businesses.


Just as the federal government hasn’t provided gas stations and Tesla charging stations, it shouldn’t fund EV charging stations either. It’s evident that Wyoming and other cold-weather states where electric vehicles are generally impractical and unusable are one of the worst uses of the funds.

This article was originally published by the Heritage Foundation. It is republished here with the kind permission of Heritage.

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