I had meeting at Licking Valley Rural Electric last week. Located in West Liberty, KY, the office is in the heart of Red River Gorge. It is the place to be in late Fall when the trees are changing in Kentucky.
When I was first assigned the task of driving Nolin’s EV for my day-to-day business, I was committed to using it for every task or trip, even if there would be obstacles to overcome. My hope was that as I encounter the ups and downs of using an EV and work through those, I would have the most relevant possible information to share.
Unfortunately, I was not able to live up to that goal this time. Range and charging infrastructure were the biggest concerns.
We’ll start back at the subject of range. Since we first got our Mach-E EV, the miles of a “full” charge has varied. As I mentioned in the last blog, I was seeing a full charge range of 280 or more miles in the temperate Fall. Since overnight temperatures have been lower (down into the 30-40’s some nights), a “full” charge has dropped significantly, as low as 220-240 miles.
Since I don’t drive more than 20-30 miles from the office in the normal course of my business, range really isn’t a day-to-day struggle. It is, however, still disappointing that range can vary so drastically based on the outside temperature. I don’t have access to a garage in which to charge at work, so I don’t know if the car being kept in a more climate controlled environment would help. Regardless, there seems to be a pretty direct correlation between the ambient temperature and the amount of charge the battery has available for driving. This kind of unpredictability has some pretty significant implications for a person’s use of their vehicle.
Below is a map from the Nolin office to Licking Valley. As you can see, the most direct route between Nolin and Licking Valley is 178 miles. That’s not accounting for a missed turn, which I had. In the end, I drove 200 miles to get to the office. I checked the EV that morning and would have started the trip with a range of 220 miles.
Next comes my second concern – charging infrastructure.
I’ve addressed this already in the blog to some extent, but this is the first time I couldn’t find a viable option. See the PlugShare map below of all the level 2 and level 3 chargers within an hour’s drive of Licking Valley. There is one level 2 charger at a car lot near West Liberty and no level 3 “fast” chargers on the map. Even if that one level 2 charger were close enough to park and walk to my meeting (assuming it was in working order and available), a level 2 charger would have added around 20-25 miles/hour to my distance. With an anticipated meeting time of 3 hours, I could not have gained enough charge to make it back to Nolin.
So, considering both of these factors, I felt I had no choice but to forego driving the EV to Red River Gorge. Thankfully, I do have a non-EV option I can use for business trips. This experience makes me more mindful of EV owners who wouldn’t have another easily accessible option.