Get the full picture on electric vehicle charging ‘problems’ before blowing a fuse

A Tesla vehicle charges in a salt and ice covered parking lot on Jan. 17, 2024 in Chicago. Recent research findings show that below-freezing temperatures reduced driving range up to 70% on 18 popular EV models, including those from Tesla. But Tracey E. McFadden, vice president of the Fox Valley Electric Auto Association, writes that it is also important to note that many people still haven’t gotten the hang of how to effectively charge EVs.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty

The recent electric vehicle charging problem in Chicago was sensationalized.

Cold weather is hard on all cars, period. EVs start up fine in the winter but have some issues related to slow charging times and less range. We don’t hear people emphasizing this, but we do hear those who are critical of EVs.

My wife and I had our car parked outside at O’Hare Airport for 10 days during the recent subzero temperatures. When we got off our flight, we proceeded to our car, turned it on, defrosted and scraped the windows and drove home. Interestingly, most of the AAA road calls are for gas cars that won’t start because of the cold weather, not EV’s.

The real problem is that most EV owners don’t understand EV charging. Ideally, EV batteries should be warmed up before charging and should not be run below 20%.

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The specific case in Chicago was primarily a charging issue, faced mostly by rideshare drivers who do not understand EV charging. Rideshare EVs clogged the charging stations, and since most of these cars are rented out in an already-cold state and then often driven on very short trips, the cars never warm up sufficiently.

There were also issues in Chicago with rideshare drivers erroneously concluding that some plugs were out of service at EV charging stations. They did not realize the charger was using energy to warm the batteries first before it began to charge.

The situation was specific to Chicago. We didn’t hear about any problems in other cold climates like Minneapolis or Norway.

Improvements are needed in charging infrastructure and EV battery technology, and progress is being made every day. The good news is Illinois was recently awarded $15 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure. We are moving in the right direction, so there is no need to get distracted by sensational headlines.

Tracey E. McFadden, vice president, Fox Valley Electric Auto Association
EV Accelerator Team, Climate Reality Project Chicago, Elburn

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Right-wingers, stop trying to run women’s lives

I would like to let reader Sharon Novickas know I could not agree more with her recent letter that maintained men should not weigh in on abortions. I have been saying this for years and almost got into a couple of fights because of it.

Every time I turn on the news, I see a man, mostly old, white and 100% Republican, trying to shove their extreme religious views down my throat. Stick to doing your job, if you have any idea what it is.

What these elected leaders have no business doing is forcing women to have babies, especially if they are risking their lives and the babies might not even be alive when born, and threatening to send doctors to jail if they do their job.

Too many times, these extreme religious right-wing people are trying to run everyone else’s lives. They only care about a fetus before it has been fully formed. If the baby is born with brain or physical disabilities, oh well, the parents and child are on their own.

Frank C. McNeff, Palos Hills

We must break our fossil fuel addiction

When a friend has an addiction, you step in when the problem gets dire. Your friend might resist, even if he’s endangering his kids. But you try to do the right thing even if it’s hard.

By now, we know our collective addiction to fossil fuel endangers everybody’s kids. Greenhouse gas emissions are changing our climate fast. To stay on the same course will make our kids’ and grandkids’ lives much harder. Instead, we can make tough choices now, to give them a more livable world.

One wise tough choice, available to Chicagoans today, is the Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance (CABO). If Chicago’s City Council passes it, new buildings will have to be all-electric starting next year. A challenging step? Yes. A necessary step? Yes.

The changes wouldn’t be easy. But some benefits will come quickly. Chicago gas customers have been paying record-high heating prices; all-electric new construction can save many residents money.

When we stop burning fuel for heat, we cut household pollutants and cancer cases. Transitioning to cleaner, efficient buildings can create good-paying union jobs.

CABO is a realistic, achievable step toward breaking the fossil-fuel addiction. In the end, we’ll breathe easier, live healthier and save money.

Jeff Balch, Evanston

Another endorsement for Joliet Army Training Area transfer

It was with great satisfaction that I read the op-ed “For conservation’s sake, transfer Joliet Training Area to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie” in the Sun-Times on Jan. 5.

Back in 1996, many conservation organizations, including ours, worked with the Illinois delegation and Gov. Jim Edgar to establish the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Wilmington. We fully support this renewed effort to transfer the Joliet Army Training Area to Midewin and finalize the vision we all had over 28 years ago. Doing so would protect wildlife habitat and improve water and air quality, while helping to ensure climate resiliency.

Since 2002, much of the area surrounding Midewin and the Training Area has been transformed from farmland into industrial complexes. Transferring the Training Area to Midewin now would ensure it stays natural and open in a part of the state that needs it the most.

Midewin and Yellowstone share a history. Yellowstone is America’s first national park, and Midewin is America’s first national tallgrass prairie. The first bison herd to be released at Midewin had animals from Yellowstone’s wild bison herd. Midewin is special, it brought to life the vision of restored prairie on a large scale in our Prairie State.

Brook McDonald, president and CEO, The Conservation Foundation, Naperville

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