According to the US Department of Energy, North Dakota has the fewest electric vehicles of any state. Only 380 electric vehicles were registered in the Peace Garden State as of 2021. Let’s explore the top three reasons behind North Dakota’s low rate of electric vehicle ownership.
1) Limited Charging Infrastructure
With its vast rural areas and long driving distances between cities, the lack of charging stations in North Dakota has led to a high degree of range anxiety. Most of the few public charging stations are concentrated in larger population centers. Fargo, the state’s largest city, is home to 30% of all public charging stations in North Dakota, according to data from plugshare.com. Destiny and Craig Wolf, clean energy enthusiasts who own two of the 18 electric vehicles in Stark County, still keep a gas-powered Toyota as a backup vehicle for long-distance trips.
2) Cold Weather Challenges
With some of the coldest winters in the United States, North Dakotans endure slower battery charge times compared to drivers in the rest of the country for much of the year. In addition, charging in freezing temperatures reduces the range of electric vehicles by an average of 15 to 20% compared to charging in 70-degree temperatures. Parking your electric vehicle in a garage and keeping it plugged in while parked can substantially reduce these problems. Nevertheless, many North Dakotans remain skeptical.
3) Lack of State Government Incentives
The initial purchase price of electric vehicles tends to be higher than their gasoline-powered counterparts, even when considering long-term savings on fuel and maintenance. Unlike many other states, North Dakota does not offer any tax incentives for buying electric vehicles or installing home charging stations. Furthermore, electric vehicle owners pay an extra $120 a year in auto registration fees compared to owners of gas-powered cars. The state’s substantial oil and gas sector is one of the primary reasons for this lack of support.
Improving battery performance in cold weather must be a top priority for the electric vehicle industry. Although lobbying governments to incentivize electric vehicle purchases is important, the electric vehicle industry is only one of many actors influencing government policy. If researchers develop new electric vehicle models that experience minimal cold weather range loss compared to existing models, electric vehicles would rapidly grow in popularity not just in North Dakota but throughout the northern United States.