When it comes to cross-country travel, many electric vehicle owners have learned to take their vehicles’ range readings with a grain of salt — especially in cold weather.
That’s a lesson one man learned the hard way last week when he tried to drive his Rivian electric pickup truck through a rural part of Wyoming — with disappointing results.
Tow truck operator Jake Yeaman of Specialty Towing in Laramie shared the story on his Facebook page.
“Towed my first EV Today,” he said.
“A brand new $90,000 electric pickup from the rest area on South Pass to Rocksprings…
“He had charged in Riverton enough to go 120 miles, but ran out of kilovolts halfway over the mountain (about 60 miles) so you might want to make sure your tank is full of electrons before tackling any mountain passes.”
The comments on Yeaman’s post were less than sympathetic.
“Now that’s funny,” one wrote. “No thank you. I’ll just keep my old gas run car and pickup. Those idiots don’t have a clue how we live in Wy.”
One had a helpful suggestion: “He should’ve been pulling a trailer with a horse in it…he would’ve made it then!! good thing it’s you to the rescue Jake!!”
“Haha,” another wrote. “It is not even extreme cold and not overly windy … Just wait until they start trying to go that route at -20 and with the 60 mph winds…”
A Californian took his brand new Rivian through central Wyoming, an area of snowy mountains and long stretches of open highway between charging stations. He had to be towed from a rest stop about 80 miles from the next charging station. https://t.co/qoJZDdaQ96
— Kevin Killough (@kevindkillough) April 25, 2023
The Cowboy State Daily interviewed Patrick Lawson, an electric vehicle dealer from Riverton, who owns a Rivian.
Lawson confirmed that weather conditions like cold and wind — which are an everyday obstacle in Wyoming for much of the year — “can quickly drain the battery,” according to the report. Even the rate of speed can affect vehicle range, he said.
Because of those limitations, Rivians are not the best choice for a cross-country trip in rural areas, Lawson told the Cowboy State Daily.
When he drives the same route that Yeaman’s customer got stranded on, Lawson said he charges up to 200 miles of range to make the 120-mile journey.
Media outlets have reported on several recent instances in which EV owners have found themselves dealing with longer charging times, greatly reduced acceleration and even inability to run the heater in frigid temperatures.
Others have encountered logistical nightmares just trying to locate chargers when driving long distances.
One vehicle owner who spent three years on a waiting list to get the electric vehicle of his dreams — also a Rivian — found himself with a $2,100 tow bill when he tried to drive his new truck on a snow-covered road and ended up with an error message and a vehicle that refused to move.
“I hit about 2½ feet of snow and it just stopped right there,” Chase Merrill told Insider. “I had seen all the Rivian marketing campaigns with the cars just eating through the snow so it was kind of like, ‘Man, this is disappointing.’”
After that experience, he decided the Rivian was not the vehicle for him, but he said he is still a fan of the brand.
“The car is super impressive and I want the company to do well,” Merrill told Insider. “I think I’m just not the right person to be an early adopter.”