Portable charging stations made it possible for Arctic Road Rally to drive the Dalton Highway to promote EVs

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In one of the weirdest turns on the road to an electric future, a road rally to Prudhoe Bay in electric cars is depending on temporary charging stations that have been installed along the remotest route in America to help the electric cars get the energy they need to keep going — and get back to the electrical grid.

The Alaska Electric Vehicle Association, working with Launch Alaska, brought the petroleum-based charging stations to the 500-mile stretch of remote northern road. They are not diesel generators, but they are giant lithium batteries that, when returned to the power grid, will be recharged themselves through fossil fuel electricity.

Ten vehicles and drivers took part in the demonstration project.

“The AKEVA initiative – Electrifying the Last Freeway – provides critical support for the 2022 Arctic Road Rally, giving volunteer drivers the unique opportunity to travel the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Ocean for the first time ever in an electric vehicle,” the group said. Cars left on Aug 12 for Prudhoe, and were due back in Fairbanks at Golden Valley Electric Association by Aug. 16. The trip was 1,096 miles in all.

The Alaska Department of Transportation installed the temporary electric-vehicle fast chargers at the Yukon River crossing, and similar ones are at Coldfoot Camp, Trans-Alaska Pipeline Pump Station 4, and Deadhorse. The charging stations were trucked in with traditionally fueled vehicles in advance of the rally and will be removed.

“The route from Fairbanks to Oliktok Point is in many ways synonymous with the challenges that have to be overcome across many Alaskan communities to achieve electrification of transportation. Many Alaskan communities rely on isolated microgrids and diesel generation for electricity. The needs of Alaska and many rural areas go beyond that of funding for charging equipment. Substantial investment needs to be made to fund electric utility line extensions, substation upgrades, and battery storage,” the organization wrote.

Those buying electric vehicles also face some financial investments. Although the Inflation Reduction Act has a tax credit of up to $7,500 for the purchase of a new electric or hybrid vehicle, Ford and General Motors have just hiked their prices for the vehicles by a nearly equal amount.

Day one of the 2022 Arctic Road Rally featured a kickoff event hosted by Golden Valley Electric Association in Fairbanks, then a 259-mile drive up the Dalton Highway to Coldfoot. 

The group said that even when the electricity is generated by fossil fuels, electric vehicles produce significantly fewer emissions than traditional vehicles in almost all situations; it’s also cheaper to recharge than pump gas. And even when their electricity is generated by fossil fuels, “EVs are poised to be powered by renewable sources as soon as those sources are ready.”

The results are already promising, the group said. While drivers predicted the Ford F-150 Lightning would arrive at Seven Mile Camp with an estimated 20 percent battery energy remaining, the truck pulled into camp with 37 percent battery energy remaining. Other vehicles reported similar positive results.

But it is summer and the temperatures are ideal for electric vehicles, even in the Arctic.

Electric vehicle drivers from around the country spent the third day of the 2022 Arctic Road Rally at the northern terminus of the route, dipping their toes into the Arctic Ocean at Oliktok Point and participating in an EV display hosted by ConocoPhillips, a major sponsor of the electric vehicle demonstration event.

Along the route north, the vehicles suffered the usual insults of the Dalton Highway, including punctured tires, dents, and muddy exteriors.

It was a demonstration project that is known in the circle of electric vehicle enthusiasts, but skeptics note it depended entirely on oil from the ground.

48 COMMENTS

  1. How about some ‘well to wheel’ cost charts for these EV’s…or are all those costs ‘off the charts’..??

  2. So… they demonstrated that EVs are viable for AK, by… demonstrating they are not viable?
    .
    How else would you describe putting in battery banks every XYZ miles to keep the vehicles charged up? Not a viable vehicle for use outside of a metro area.

  3. Dumbest experiment ever performed in Alaska, trying to prove something assinine, based on a false narrative (man-made climate change). Try this experiment in November – April when portable charging station will be frozen to the ground. Complete idiots. 90% of Alaskans are laughing their asses off. The other 10% are turning the heaters up in their gas cars, chilled by the mid-August weather.

    • ICE’s also require constant recharging with gasoline, or diesel in the Arctic, I recall Alaskans using pot heaters to warm diesel engines that were “frozen to the ground” BEV’s use a battery warmer just like in an ICE to stay thawed in cold conditions

      • Frank Rast, those battery warmers reduce your mileage significantly.
        Oh, and what of the defrost function?
        Yup, between the battery warmer and clearing the windshield you could lose up to half of your miles…

  4. 4 charging stations for that road?? I can drive it up on a tank of gas and back on another easily. I find it ironic that one of the charging stations was at an oil pump station 🙂
    there is no benefit to EVs unless you drive less than 100 miles a day and even then the costs get transferred to your electric bill.

    • Someone recently made a video where they traveled up from Colorado (I think) using the Ford lightning. With gear in the bed, nothing excessive, they had a 90 mile range on the extended battery. It was a joke. Apparently the Ford Vans have a whopping 100 mile range… its the way of the future!

  5. We live in an era of governmental absurdities and mass-media lies. EVs are less energy-efficient (and carbon reducing) than corn-to-ethanol for vehicle fuel, which is to say, “utterly and ridiculously wasteful.” Brandon will take my reliable, gasoline-fueled pickup when he can pry my cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel.

  6. Juneau bought an electric bus but it has “poor cold weather performance.” it has broken down many times, and it cannot complete an entire route without a several hour recharge. Also, the windshield wipers stopped working (kinda need those in Juneau). I’m not sure of its current status but I think its broke down again. Of course, Juneau wants to buy more.

  7. Let’s invite these intrepid EV owners back in Jan or Feb and then we’ll have a true test.

  8. Research the electric school bus in Juneau and get off the Dems ship of fools. The Dems are now telling GOD he failed and his creation earth is dying. Politicians your deeds are in the book of life your oath duty deeds and your personal deeds are in the book of life awaiting your arrival. SO HELP YOU GOD.

  9. A better use of that money would have been to pave more of the road.

    Not that many cars are built to use that road. EVs? Please.

    The Cult of Climate is the religion of the left.

  10. This is about the biggest dog and pony show to intentionally portray a false image about their suitability anywhere.

  11. “but they are giant lithium batteries that, when returned to the power grid, will be recharged themselves through fossil fuel electricity.”

    Like PT Barnum once said………….lol

  12. Another EV stunt! LOL. Just look at the amount of energy (fossil) used, and the measures used to hide it. The snake oil salesmen are coming out the woodworks! WOW. Try this again in Winter. Insane

  13. These eclectic vehicles do not work very well in the extrema hot or cold! So no good for AK in the winter (see it gets cold here dimlibbys)

  14. Recently heard that about 85% of the electric cars manufactured are still on the road.
    .
    .
    The rest made it home.

  15. And 70 to 80% of the electric cars will not qualify for the full tax credit under the inflation reduction act due to restrictions in the bill.

  16. If said vehicles cannot make it without ‘temporary’ charging stations supported by fossil fuels support, they cannot make it at all.

    And that is within non-winter months, mind you.

    To show their ‘true’ colors, allow them the same trip without said ‘temporary’ charging stations versus fossil fueled vehicles, apples to apples.

    Said fossil fueled vehicles shall see the EV vehicles upon the way back from the destination, as the EV’s shall be nothing more than garbage upon the side of the road.

    Very, very expensive garbage.

  17. Meanwhile, a thousand gallons of diesel were burned digging up a mountain for the minerals to make batteries for one car. Not to mention the extremely high temps those batteries burn at if there’s a fire, which is extremely toxic. And the child slavery in Africa used to extract the rate Earth’s used. Finally, the energy wasted converting from one energy source to another, since nothing is 100% efficient. Why don’t those morons just keep driving their old cars and really save the environment. Can you imagine the environmental impact of no cars being manufactured for one year? Idiots!

  18. Sounds like a great trip! With a few more charging stations, compared to the 400+ gas stations around the state, EVs will become more viable. Like any technology being developed, it takes time to perfect. But if there’s anything we can do as Americans it’s to pioneer forward and overcome challenges!

  19. What y’all miss is that this was an experiment, a step of the scientific method. They’ll draw up conclusions and seek to improve. What’s wrong with that?

    • What’s wrong with that is that they’re inventing conclusions. If this is about saving the environment there are better ways to do it than by trucking fuel cells back and forth from strategic points in order to promote an artificial reality. My daughter rode a bicycle from Deadhorse to FBX last week; an interesting contrast to a handful of self promoting fat bastards in overpriced toys forcing an artificial paradigm. The EV concept works in a very narrow application and it is that metropolitan areas in warmer climes have the option of moving vehicle exhaust outside the city via charging stations attached to a power plant located many miles away. They’re moving pollution, not removing pollution.

    • Well, bless your heart, Lucinda!

      Like the ‘scientific method’ regarding covid?

      An experiment, as it were, is something that measures honest outcome, not ‘predetermined’ outcome.

      A ‘true’ ‘scientific method’ within this scope would simply measure what said EV vehicles could accomplish without the benefit of ‘temporary’ charging stations that would not have existed otherwise, and during all available environmental conditions, within year-round conditions against fossil fueled vehicles within the exact same conditions.

      The answer, of course, is that the EV’s would fail magnificently without false support.

      The truth is that EV’s shall never perform in cold weather climates equal to fossil fueled vehicles, and the cost of attempting to make them equal to said such far outweighs the costs of producing them.

      • Let’s see how ICE vehicles would perform without a gas station at the end to refuel at.

        I think the experiment is silly because it just drives towards an obvious outcome, but it does show that EVs are viable as charging infrastructure is built out. The remote corners of Alaska, though, are the last place that’ll ever happen.

  20. Sigh. Contention sells.

    But here are some facts, Suzanne Downing:

    Electric vehicles are 2.25x more efficient than an Internal combustion engine — even when charged with electricity made from fossil fuels. An EV is 90% efficient at turning energy into the miles a vehicle drives.

    Planted “journalism”, such as this article, is a good example of Alaska Eating its Young — targeting a humble demonstration event and wasting air-time calling out an illusory hypocrisy where none exists. Oh! The big reveal! the Dalton isn’t paved with EV Charging Stations! No surprise. And the grid isn’t renewable! No surprise either. These are goals many are working toward. The point of the event was to raise visibility on the promise of electrics, but we all realize it will take fossil fuels and time to reach this goal.

    Alaskans who seek to critique and divide based on fear of loss of status quo — miss the momentum other states are profitably harnessing as they support initiatives like that which Launch Alaska and the Alaska Electric Vehicle Association forwarded this past week.

    The future belongs to those of us of purpose, unentangled in click-bait and culture wars.

    • Piper,
      Thank you for your comment above. I think that as we go forward with EV’s we should have a frank discussion regarding the infrastructure required to make this thing actually work. Charging Stations and their affect upon the current Electrical Grid should be discussed first. In my study of EV’s (I am all for the concept BTW) it appears that every home will need to be supplied with a 50 amp single phase device to charge their EV. This charger will require 8 to 12 hours to charge your EV. (provided that the batteries are warm). Obviously this power requirement would put a huge demand upon your homes electrical service which will translate to a massive demand upon the existing Electrical Supply Grid. It is my understanding that a Three Phase device would charge more efficiently, obtaining a Three Phase service to your home would again require massive expense to the consumer and cause no small sum of new infrastructure to the utility companies.

      Where will all of the power to charge EV’s come from? As illustrated above charging an EV will likely double demand upon the Nations Power Grid. Even Elon Musk say’s this thing will take a while to implement and that we are not ready to plunge headlong into EV’s. My advice is to begin building Hydro Projects everywhere to supply increased demand. Flood the valleys and drain the rivers so you can signal your virtue , and proclaim, I drive an Electric Car! Or better yet, move to Sitka where there is an excess of cheap hydro power with which to charge your car. Sitka has so few roads that you will be able to actually use the defrost and windshield wipers and still have enough energy to make it home each night to recharge.

      More to ponder, where are the batteries for these EV’s made? Where are the minerals required to build these batteries mined? Will said mining be done in an environmentally safe manner? How much oil will be used in constructing these batteries? Where will these toxic batteries be disposed once they burn out? What is the expected life span of these batteries and cost to replace?
      I say let the market sort out the questions above. If it makes sense to own an EV, the market will respond. Avoid big Governmental Programs and mandates that have the ability to destroy.

    • Yeah, no. An inductive load is not 90% efficient and your bogus facts are annoying.

      If you’d like to be “of purpose” you may want to start by asking a few questions rather than inventing a scenario that supports whatever nonsense you’re promoting.

  21. Every time you convert through motors or generators, the typical peak efficiency is around 75%
    So, you generate the power… at the plant.
    You get 75% net
    Say .75 kilowatt.
    Run it through the battery and the electric drive-train, = .75 x .75= .5625 KW.
    Or 57% efficiency.
    Not to mention all peripheral problems.
    Thos 90% motors are built undercooled and as light as possible.
    That gives them a short working life.
    The batteries are worth more than the vehicles, and they won’t survive 5 years.

    • Lots of FUD and misinformation here, but let’s go with your numbers anyway. ICE vehicles are under 40% thermally efficient, so your argument fails before it even begins here.

  22. I figure if I were to buy a battery powered pickup. I’d have to buy a generator to throw in the back big enough to run it. About a 400 Kilowatt. And a good sized fuel tank.
    But, then, the truck would have room for nothing else, and it would be so heavy…

  23. Maybe they should have run this experiment in the winter months. They would have had to call for a rescue as these things do not work very well in extreme cold environments. Simply put, I do not believe the technology is there yet to force people into this concept. They should trust our markets, it will sort out the stupidity.

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