A Republican senator from Florida has suggested limiting the use of electric vehicles during hurricane evacuations, arguing that the charging infrastructure is not ready yet and that EVs with empty batteries could become roadblocks in critical locations. However, others are not as worried or offer alternative solutions instead.
Florida is a high-risk area for hurricanes, with hurricane Ian being the latest deadly example, causing over 160 casualties and 113,1 billion dollars in damage in 2022, the deadliest Florida hurricane since 1935. As such, the US state has to think about the best way to get people to safety during a hurricane warning. And Republican senator Jonathan Martin sees limiting the use of EVs as part of the solution.
‘Stranded EVs become roadblocks’
“My concern is there’s not an infrastructure currently available in the state of Florida for the amount of EVs that might be used on evacuation routes during a time of emergency,” senator Martin is quoted as saying. He sees EVs becoming roadblocks if they run out of power on crowded highways, with no way to push them to the side of the road.
Others within the senate, however, are not as worried. Currently, EVs make up only 1,1% of vehicles in Florida. The state is expected to receive 198 million dollars from the federal government to distribute in grants to local businesses to install public EV charging stations close to interstate highways.
Mobile chargers for rescue vehicles
Democrat senator Tina Polsky is not in favor of prohibiting EV usage during evacuations, saying that “that may be the only car someone has”, while Republican Tom Wright doesn’t see the need for this discussion, as gas-powered vehicles still make up the lion’s share of Florida’s fleet.
The Florida Department of Transportation, however, is looking into possible solutions for stranded EV drivers, especially during evacuations. One of the proposed solutions is outfitting rescue vehicles with portable EV chargers to give an empty EV enough juice to reach the nearest charging station. Belgian mobility organization Touring has been using mobile chargers for stranded electric vehicles since 2019.
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