How practical is owning an electric vehicle in Minnesota?

Dear Sam, 

With the costs of gas rising and concerns over carbon emissions, I’m thinking about buying or leasing an electric vehicle (EV), but I’m concerned about the practicality of owning an EV in Minnesota. Do you have information on charging infrastructure, range anxiety, or range operation in the cold? 



Dear Charlie,

With the demand for EV vehicles rising rapidly, I think many people are asking this same question. Below is information I’ve gathered for you on Minnesota’s current charging infrastructure, how it is set to grow, what to think about when it comes to battery range, and how the cold affects performance.

On charging infrastructure:

As of June 12, 2021, Minnesota has 1,171 public EV charging stations — this number does not include charging stations that people may have in their garages or that they have purchased for private use. Electric vehicles in Minnesota currently account for less than one percent of registered vehicles. With the executive order passed by President Biden in August of 2021, there is a target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emission vehicles, including battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicles. Minnesota is set to receive $68 million in federal funding to aid in the expansion of infrastructure for electric vehicles, including expanding charging stations throughout the state, especially in rural areas where EVs are not as common.

Here is an example of one resource available for finding charging stations throughout Minnesota:

  • https://chargehub.com/en/countries/united-states/minnesota.html

On range anxiety:

Range anxiety is the fear of driving an electric vehicle and running out of power without being able to find a charging station on time to replenish the battery. Is EV range anxiety warranted? The fear of running out of juice is a significant stumbling block to greater EV adoption but has as much to do with psychology as it does with the actual range of EVs (or the availability of charging stations). While this still depends on where you live, most EV drivers don’t encounter any problems at all when it comes to charging their vehicle, and in one survey, 79 percent of current EV drivers stated that they would buy an electric car again in the future.

So, what do they know that you may not? If you are worried about range anxiety, these five must-know facts will help put your mind at ease.

1: EV charging is nothing like getting gas.

Switching to electric mobility is not just about driving a car with a battery; the entire experience is different. Take charging, for example. You can’t compare it to putting gas in your car. Besides the fact that they both fuel your vehicle, it is different in many ways.

Charging an EV can be more convenient (and cheaper) than taking mandatory detours to a gas station. Sure, the act of filling up a tank with gas might still be faster than charging a battery (although technology is catching up), but filling up at a gas station is still a chore that can be avoided altogether if you drive an EV. 

Does that mean gas stations will disappear? On the contrary, many fuel retailers are investing in fast-charging stations to facilitate on-the-go charging and accommodate business fleets such as transportation, delivery, and heavy-duty distribution companies. But, as a driver of an electric passenger vehicle, you will become far less dependent on gas stations. In addition, more fast-charging stations installed at gas stations worldwide means fewer reasons to worry about range.

2: You can charge while you park.

In a time filled with technical innovation designed to offer convenience, it’s probably no surprise that we all prefer our lives to be as easy as possible. Now, imagine hitting the road every morning, knowing you have enough range for your daily commute. For EV drivers, this dream is already a reality. With an EV, you can charge your car when you’re not using it. And not just at home. Today, there are charging stations to be found everywhere; at the workplace, retail locations, hotels, restaurants, public parking spots, gas stations, or even golf courses or cinemas. With electricity available everywhere, the locations that offer EV charging are diverse, plentiful, and expanding rapidly over the next decade due to funding through the Biden infrastructure bill.  

3: Charging stations are popping up everywhere.

The world is switching to electric mobility to reduce harmful emissions. As such, governments around the globe are creating legislation and launching incentives to support this much-needed switch. One essential point on the agenda is increasing and improving the global charging infrastructure. Today, there are over 10 million electric cars on our roads. As the number of electric vehicles is expected to increase and represent 30 percent of the whole fleet in 2030, the number of available charging stations will increase in tandem. Charging infrastructure needs to grow to meet tomorrow’s demand, and it will. To give you a ballpark idea, in 2020 there were about 1.3 million public charging stations installed globally. By 2030, it is estimated this number will be over 16 million

4: Electric vehicle range is more than sufficient 

Most people experience “range anxiety” because they believe that the range of an EV is insufficient for them to reach their destination. Even in the early days of EV development, when the maximum range was a lot less impressive and batteries were more expensive than they are today, this fear was already unwarranted for most drivers. Back in 2010, when the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle—the Nissan LEAF—hit the road, it had a maximum range of about 175 km (109 miles). Over the last few years, the range has increased significantly. Yet, according to the US Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, the average American citizen drives 62 km (39 miles) a day. So, the real question is, how much range do you need? 

How far can an electric car go? According to the Electric Vehicle DataBase, the average range of EVs currently sits at a comfortable 315 km (195 miles). This, of course, differs per model. In comparison, the current Nissan LEAF offers a range between 270 – 385 km, while Tesla offers a range between 491 km and 614 km (depending on the model). 

5: Electric car battery life is longer than you think. 

EV batteries tend to last somewhere between 10-20 years before they need replacement? EV batteries are designed to last and won’t stop working after a few years. Sure, over time, batteries lose some of their charging capacity. However, this happens quite slowly, on average 2.3 percent yearly. So, if you buy an EV today that has a range of 240 km (150 miles), you will only lose around 27 km of total battery range (17 miles) after five years of driving. As extra reassurance, there’s no need to worry about the costs of replacing the battery, as most manufacturers give a standard warranty between five to ten years or up to 100,000 km (62,000 miles).

On EVs and cold climates:

As freezing temperatures descend across the country and snow and ice become a hazard, EV drivers face another potential issue—how cold affects the battery and range of their electric cars. Most EV drivers know cold weather influences the range of their vehicles, and one of the reasons people cite for not buying an EV is the belief that they don’t operate well in cold temperatures, but how much range is lost? The amount of range lost depends on many factors such as the car itself, its potential range in normal weather, and whether the heat is on. According to AAA EVs often lose 12% of their range in cold weather, but the loss leaps to 41% with the heater on full blast. Any factor that significantly uses more power than normal affects range. ALL cars, both gas, and electric, are affected in some way by cold weather.

There are ways to work around the cold-weather problem. Getting a car with as much range as possible is the first step. EV buyers who drive in colder climates should strongly consider getting a car with a range about double their daily driving needs so they’re not left stranded in a cold snap. My EV.com also has some suggestions once you get your EV home. Park the car to charge in a garage if possible. Avoid or limit letting the car sit idle with the heat on to warm up before driving. Combine trips, and don’t use the car more than necessary. Heavy braking adds to range loss. And, when it comes to heating, seat warmers are a better choice than running high heat. While owning an EV in a cold climate presents some challenges, where you live is not a deterrent to EV ownership. Good planning will keep your car in great shape and ensure you have the range to get where you need to go, regardless of the weather.

Since you mentioned the rising cost of owning a gas-powered vehicle, I thought I’d point out the cost benefits of owning an EV. The current calculations of gas savings with an EV make it an attractive option, but let’s look at the numbers. 

Minnesota Averages found in June 2022:

  • Cost per kWh of electricity: $0.1609 
  • Cost per gallon of gas (Midwest Petroleum Administration for Defense District 2 area): $5.63 (June 2022)
  • MPG: 25.1 (US average, August 2019)
  • Miles per kWh: 3 (Conservative US average, June 2022)
  • Miles traveled per year: 17,887 (June 2022

To calculate the cost of gasoline purchased in a year, estimate (miles driven per year) / (MPG) * (cost per gallon). As for maintenance, https://newsroom.aaa.com/auto/your-driving-costs/ (September 2019) says that an EV’s maintenance costs are 6.6 cents per mile and list maintenance costs for a standard gas-powered vehicle as 8.94 cents per mile. So the EV maintenance is 2.34 cents cheaper per mile. The average Minnesota car travels 17,887 miles annually and will save $419 per year on maintenance. These averages, including maintenance and miles driven per year, add up to an annual savings of over $3500 if switching to an EV.

I hope this gives you enough information to weigh your options and decide whether an EV is the right choice for you. And, don’t forget about other modes of transportation like walking and biking when your trips are short and local. There’s no cost to fuel up and you don’t have to worry about range anxiety!