Modern-Day Donner Party—Power Out!

The Donner Party became stuck in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter of 1846–1847. Of course, they didn’t have the cutting-edge technology we do today, so things quickly got worse. You already know how the story ends if you are familiar with it. The zombie apocalypse wasn’t quite here, but it was near. What does this tale of tragedy and poor judgment have to do with the car sector? You don’t even realize it.



Let’s jump forward to the present. Because of the increased use of air conditioners during periods of intense heat, I’ve witnessed electrical grids in California fail. There have also been instances where the heat was turned off, albeit less frequently. On the West Coast, that is how it is. It probably doesn’t differ much from ice storms in the East that bring down power lines. However, a significant switchover to electric vehicles is about to occur. What would an electric car driver do if the East Coast’s or California’s power grid failed and they were left stranded?



I am aware of power outages and how they impact people because I live on the West Coast. However, I haven’t considered the potential repercussions of severely cold weather. I’m just not too familiar with that particular weather trend. That is precisely how tales of ancient disasters in the midst of circumstances that seem so avoidable by contemporary circumstances, such as the Donner Party, make their way from generation to generation. Have we not gained knowledge? Perhaps not.



Think about what happened recently on I-95 in Virginia. A 48-mile traffic delay was reported in a Washington Post piece, and it was 19 degrees outside. Big rig trucks, ICE (internal combustible engine) cars, hybrids, and electric cars were among the stranded vehicles. Many of these motorists relied on their automobiles’ heat to stay warm because they weren’t prepared for these circumstances (or this traffic jam).



With a car that runs on gas, you can just take a container and obtain some gas. even if it requires going to the closest gas station on foot. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, require charging facilities. If those charging stations aren’t available right away, it won’t be long until your supply of heat disappears. If the battery runs out (which happens more quickly in cold weather), the driver has no easy method to recharge the car, which then obstructs the path of other cars. Since you cannot simply drive into 48-mile traffic congestion to recharge your EV, there is no simple solution. There wouldn’t be a traffic bottleneck if you could!



I’ve now reached the main point of this blog.



The US federal government is drafting laws requiring automakers to completely phase out ICE vehicles, giving US consumers the option to only buy EVs. What would happen if every single car in the 48-mile gridlock in a 19-degree climate was an electric vehicle?



Should the NHTSA get involved in this situation? Once more, a car is viewed as a recall candidate if it doesn’t protect consumers. There is no malfunction in this instance, as there would be if an ICE car ran out of fuel.



Are we still failing to heed the cautionary message posted on I-95? What can we infer about this situation? The kindness of other motorists prevented the disaster, but what will happen when we are all operating electric vehicles? Nowhere is safe to flee.


Should there be a comprehensive plan for installing charge stations along every road and highway in addition to the ongoing fight for this legislation? Who does that, if so? The federal or state governments?



The EV infrastructure has a hole in it that could prove fatal. All of us are merely innocent travelers headed toward dire situations – a contemporary Donner Party if you will.



Something needs to be done to stop this kind of cold-weather scenario, where EVs are stalled because there aren’t enough charging stations, from happening again. The circumstances of the middle of the nineteenth century, which seemed so avoidable, have come back to haunt us in the guise of an infrastructure that is obviously not in place. We cannot pretend that Virginia never occurred. The only issue left to be resolved is whether or not we intend to take action.

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