PlugShare Research: Texas Power Blackouts Didn't Stop Most EV Drivers
Survey of 580 battery EV drivers shows the transportation impact of outages on charging were minimal
El Segundo | Mar 5, 2021
A survey conducted last week by PlugShare Research shows that the widespread power outages from the recent devastating Texas winter storm had only a minor transportation impact on the large majority of the state’s grid-dependent battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers. 580 battery EV drivers were surveyed in the study.
Even though 72% say they had experienced at least one power blackout at home between February 10 and February 22, less than 6% said they were unable to drive their BEV at some point because a blackout made it impossible.
Reasons for the minimal impact include:
- Not all of the outages lasted long enough to prevent charging. 55% of BEV drivers who experienced an outage were never without power for longer than a day and could easily plug in when the grid came back up.
- BEV drivers generally had non-electric alternatives. 74% of BEV drivers also had access to a gasoline or diesel vehicle. Only 36% of these drivers were unable to get gas at a filling station due to an electrical blackout.
- Bad road conditions kept more people at home. Authorities encouraged drivers to stay off the roads, and many reported leaving their BEVs in the garage, hunkering down to avoid hazardous conditions.
- Many drivers charged their batteries in anticipation of possible blackouts. In the run-up to the storm, authorities warned residents of potential blackouts and many reported that they “topped off’ their batteries to be safe.
- 6.5% of BEV drivers who experienced an outage had a battery energy storage system installed at their home. These systems, like Tesla’s Powerwall product, made it possible to charge an EV even when the grid had completely shut down. Wrote one driver: ”We experienced 42 grid outages for a total of 39 hours. We charged 2 EVs without difficulty and had no home power loss due to solar panels and battery back-ups.”
Said one driver, “We were able to use the car's energy for low wattage purposes when the house power was out (charging devices, powering the internet router) and we also used the car as a warm place to sleep.” An added advantage reported by several drivers: no danger from carbon monoxide fumes when sheltering in an EV overnight in the garage.
Another driver who suffers from an obstructive sleep apnea condition reported comfortably camping in his Tesla for 2 nights while powering his CPAP medical device via battery. “I have a new perspective about my electric car”, he wrote, “It’s a savior. Don't know what I would have done without it.”
“All in all, most Texans managed to keep their EVs charged during this devastating storm”, said PlugShare Research’s Chief Strategy Officer, Norman Hajjar, “but with more and more global automakers announcing plans to transition away from gas and diesel vehicle production in favor of EVs, maintaining the health and stability of the electrical grid will only grow in importance in the future. As we’ve seen in Texas, home battery storage -- especially when coupled with photovoltaic solar systems – looks like a promising way to keep the lights on and vehicles on the road, even in a crisis.”
Based in El Segundo CA, PlugShare maintains the most comprehensive census of EV infrastructure in the world. They make the PlugShare app for iOS, Android, and the Web, the most popular EV driver app globally, in use by over 2.4 million drivers worldwide. PlugShare also provides sophisticated data tools, reports, custom consulting and comprehensive research on EVs for automakers, utilities, charging networks, government and the rest of the EV industry. It operates the world's largest EV driver survey research panel, PlugInsights, now with over 72,000 members. Back to News