A significant snowstorm in Virginia this week left hundreds of motorists stranded in freezing situations on Interstate 95, some of them for a lot more than 24 hrs.

That led a social media user to warn of what would have occurred if more of these cars and trucks experienced been electric automobiles.

“Envision if fifty percent the cars and trucks in the website traffic jam on I-95 in Virginia past night had been electric motor vehicles. And half of all those were to run out of battery electrical power,” A Facebook submit on Jan. 4 stated. “All those persons would be trapped in freezing temperatures with no a heated motor vehicle. And all the cars would be trapped unable to transfer simply because you cannot provide a charging station to them. In effect all all those electrical automobiles would come to be roadblocks to the gasoline powered vehicles. Just one thing to believe about when you hear politicians pushing electric cars more than gasoline and diesel.”

This submit was flagged as section of Facebook’s endeavours to fight false information and misinformation on its News Feed. (Go through extra about our partnership with Facebook.)

The submit suggests electrical motor vehicles would have been extra inclined to failure in these types of ailments than gasoline-run cars and trucks and vehicles. Other folks lifted similar fears, which includes a Washington Put up columnist, who shared a tweet from a trucker who recounted his working experience with a Tesla driver who was apprehensive about running out of power.

But are this kind of anxieties grounded in actuality?

Numerous variables have an effect on how a specified electrical car or truck would fare in these a circumstance, including the type of battery it has, the heating program it takes advantage of and irrespective of whether the vehicle was totally charged before the vacation. But there is no proof that EVs frequently would be more inclined to failure in a visitors jam like the just one that took place in Virginia.

The range of an electric powered motor vehicle varies extensively by design, from 110 miles in the Mini Cooper Electric powered to up to 373 miles in the Tesla Model S. And chilly weather can diminish the assortment of an EV, according to automakers and assessments by Consumer Stories. 

But when idling, as in a standstill traffic jam, an EV behaves in another way from a fuel-driven automobile. An electric vehicle’s motor does not run when the automobile is stationary, so the only attract on the battery is for the heating program and other electrical accessories. Drivers idling in a gasoline-powered auto would require to preserve the engine functioning, and gasoline burning, to retain the heat on.

In December, PolitiFact appeared into a comparable assert that mentioned electric automobiles are additional very likely to fail in site visitors jams in cold climate. We identified that to be false because the motor vehicles don’t use significantly power although at a standstill or in their weather settings.

To comprehend the vitality potential of an EV’s battery, Peter Wells, director of the Centre for Automotive Sector Investigation at Cardiff Enterprise School in Wales, informed PolitiFact that the typical U.S. property makes use of 30 kilowatt-hrs of ability per day, so a fully charged 62 kilowatt-hour battery in an electrical car could energy a residence for two days.

Even fifty percent-charged, a 62 kWh battery could yield 10 to 15 hrs of heating in a auto that’s stationary during a traffic jam, Wells claimed. A gasoline car’s heating or air conditioning, on the other hand, wouldn’t be ready to operate with out the motor working and consuming gas to ability the compressor and other sections.

Jeremy Michalek, co-founder of the Automobile Electrification Team and an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon College, said cold weather conditions can cut an electric powered vehicle’s vary, in miles, by as much as half, citing a analyze he co-authored. But array is a perform of a shifting motor vehicle.

While idling, a gas-run motor vehicle, assuming a comprehensive tank of 15 to 18 gallons, could take anywhere from about a working day to up to a 7 days to burn off as a result of that gasoline, Michalek mentioned. A stationary Tesla Model 3, he said, could exhaust its battery in as very little as eight several hours or as substantially as a few days, based on the wattage of the heater.

So which would fare superior stuck in a daylong targeted visitors jam like the one particular in Virginia? It relies upon, Michalek mentioned, on how comfy anyone requires to be, whether the motor vehicle has a warmth pump and other variables.

“Base line: A gasoline car can hold the cabin heat though idling for a more time period, on regular, but in practice it will depend on how a great deal electrical power is remaining in every single vehicle at the time it is stranded and how efficiently the heating possibilities are utilized,” Michalek claimed. “For illustration, electrical seats in EVs can be more successful at maintaining an grownup entire body heat than heating the whole cabin in an emergency condition.”

It is easier to refuel a motor vehicle that runs out of fuel in a visitors jam than to recharge an electric powered auto, which can acquire several hours, but no motor vehicle is truly built to outlast a 24-hour traffic jam. Dozens of cars had been remaining abandoned or ran out of gasoline in the Virginia jam and had to be towed, the Washington Write-up documented.

An electric powered car or truck that runs out of battery electricity on the road would generally will need to be towed to  a site where by it could be recharged. But some new choices are starting to be readily available. Blink Charging Co. in Miami sells a portable charger for use by roadside support expert services to offer EVs with ample battery electricity to get to a charging station, and Lightning Cell is developing a cellular electric charging station that it hopes to provide to operators of professional electric auto fleets, in accordance to Automotive News

Our ruling

A Facebook post implied that a substantial targeted visitors pileup all through a Virginia snowstorm would have been significantly worse with additional electrical cars on the street.

Cold climate can diminish the vary of an electric motor vehicle which is going. But there is no evidence to counsel electric powered autos idling in standstill visitors would have fared any even worse than gas-driven vehicles, which have to have a jogging motor to give heat and can operate out of fuel when idling. 

Electric powered motor vehicles really do not use a great deal energy although idling, and drivers can use even significantly less by employing the seat heaters instead of the heating process.

We price this declare False.

Monique Curet contributed to this point-verify.

By Tara