‘Range anxiety’ changes driving habits for electric car owner

Car performs well in cold weather, but charge doesn’t last as long

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

As promised, The Leader checked in last week with Jule Asterisk of Slave Lake, the owner of an electric Hyundai Kona. When we did the original story on the vehicle back in September, she predicted no problems operating it in the cold months.

Well, last week it was in the minus 20s.

“It’s great in cold weather,” she says. “It’s way better than a gas engine. It doesn’t do that ‘clunk, clunk’ when you start it.”

Performance is just fine in winter as well, Asterisk says. The main difference is in the vehicle’s range. Thanks to the cold, a fully charged battery gets her 250 kilometres “if it’s really cold.” Maybe 275 kms if it’s not as cold. In summer the range is 375 – 400 kms on a full charge. Or rather an 80 per cent charge, because that’s the limit set on it for safety reasons. She says she’s going to see if she can get that limit boosted to 90 or 95 per cent.

Charging takes longer in winter too. At a ‘fast charge’ station, what takes an hour in summer takes twice that time in cold weather.

“It’s changed my driving habits,” Asterisk says. “It’s made me more patient.”

She could get to Edmonton without a recharge in Westlock when it’s cold, she says. But she’d be arriving in a cold car. So she stops in Westlock, plugs in at the free Peavey Mart station and has a meal.

No such charging stations – free or otherwise – yet exist in Slave Lake, which is a drawback. Oddly enough, High Prairie has three of them.

“Peavey, UFA and the hospital,” Asterisk says. “All free!”

The only time she’s paid for a ‘fill-up’ is at a garage in Edmonton. It cost her ten dollars, plus the parking fee.

Re-charging the car’s battery at home is a matter of plugging it in overnight. She’s had the dryer circuit, with its higher voltage, extended to the front of the house. Surprisingly (even to her), the overnight charging hasn’t made an appreciable difference to her monthly power bill.

Asterisk says she has spoken to the Sawridge Travel Centre about installing a charging station. She thinks it would be a good business move, given the fact drivers have time on their hands while waiting.

There is a charging station in High Level, Asterisk adds.

Asked if she gets people asking her about her car, Asterisk says, “Yes! All the time!” The curiosity shows up out on the road as well.

“People follow me to see how the car goes up hills,” she says. “I imagine they’re having a conversation about it and then they pull out and pass me. I always go the speed limit now. I didn’t used to. But I have range anxiety now. I’d rather have range than anxiety!”

Jule Asterisk of Slave Lake in her Hyundai electric car. Its range is reduced in cold weather, but she says it starts and drives just fine.

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