China’s heat wave is creating havoc for electric vehicle drivers

The broke world records China’s heat wave, which began in June, has evaporated more than half of hydropower generating capacity in the usually southwestern Sichuan Province. You get 81% of the electricity from hydroelectric power stations. This reduction in energy supply, at a time when the need for cooling increased, brought industrial production and daily life to a halt in the region.

As the power supply has become unreliable, the government has imposed restrictions on electric vehicle charging in order to prioritize the most important daily electricity needs.

as Chinese leaflets informedFinding a working charging station in Sichuan and neighboring Chongqing – a task that took a few minutes before the heat wave – took two hours this week. The majority of public charging stations, including those operated by leading brands such as China’s Tesla, NIO and XPeng, have closed in the region due to government restrictions on commercial use of electricity.

A screenshot sent to the MIT Technology Review by a Chinese Tesla owner in Sichuan, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, shows that on August 24, only two of 31 Tesla Supercharger stations in or near the provincial capital Chengdu were operating. as normal.

A screenshot is available in a Tesla car showing just two of the 31 nearby Tesla Supercharger stations.
Screenshot of all Tesla Supercharger stations near Chengdu.

In addition to facing a mandatory service suspension, owners of electric vehicles are also encouraged or forced to charge only during peak hours. In fact, the leading local operator, TELD, shut down more than 120 charging stations in the area from 8 a.m. to midnight, peak hours for electricity use. State Grid, the largest state-owned electric utility company in China, builds and operates electric vehicle charging stations; It announced August 19 that in three counties with more than 140 million residents and 800,000 electric vehicles in total, the company will offer coupons for 50% off if drivers charge at night. State Grid also reduces the efficiency of 350,000 charging jobs during the day, so the individual charging time for vehicles will be five to six minutes longer, but the total energy consumed during peak hours will decrease.

The effect is evident in videos shared on Chinese social media, showing Long queues of electric vehicles Waiting outside the few working charging stations, Even after midnight. Electric taxi drivers have been hit particularly hard, as their livelihoods depend on their cars. “I started waiting in line at 8:30pm yesterday and only started charging around 5am,” Chengdu taxi driver said EV effect. “You always wait in queues. Like today, I didn’t get much work, but now I’m queuing again. And the battery runs out fast.”

Shipping challenges are also driving some people back to using fossil fuels. The Sichuan Tesla owner plans to visit Chengdu for work this week, but has decided to drive his other car, a gas-powered car, fearing he won’t find a place to recharge before heading home. Another driver from Chengdu, who owns a plug-in hybrid, told MIT Technology Review that she switched to gas this week even though she usually sticks to electric because it’s a bit cheaper.

The sudden difficulty with charging in Sichuan and neighboring provinces has taken the electric car industry by surprise. “A large-scale energy shortage like this is still something we haven’t seen before [in China]says Li Xing, auto industry analyst and former editor-in-chief of China Auto Review. He says the climate disaster is reminding the industry that while China leads the world in many metrics for electric vehicle adoption, there are still infrastructure weaknesses that need to be addressed. “It seems that China already has a good charging infrastructure…but once something like this power constraint happens, the problems are exposed. All electric vehicle owners who rely on public charging publications are having problems now,” says Xing.

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