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Milwaukee Auto Show attendees shed light on Wisconsin’s lagging embrace of electric

In her heart, Mary Haag wants to join the electric vehicle revolution.

Haag, of Menomonee Falls, is ready for a new car. It’s time, she said, “to spoil myself and get something fun.”

She’s thought long and hard about an EV, but a lack of public charging infrastructure in Wisconsin and concerns about range for longer trips make her leery. A plug-in hybrid probably makes more sense, she thinks.

“My heart wants to, but I’m just not there yet,” she said of an all electric vehicle. “My eco sense wants to do it, but Wisconsin is not a very EV-friendly state.”

Cox Automotive Economic and Industry Insights has dubbed 2024 “the Year of More” when it comes to EVs as automakers increase inventory and push out new models, more vehicles qualify for federal tax incentives and EV charging infrastructure improves. Cox forecasts EV share of the U.S. market in 2024 will reach 10%, up from 7.6% last year and 5.9% in 2022.

EV adoption has been slower in Wisconsin, which ranked lowest among the Great Lakes states with 15,700 EV registrations, or about 2.8% of all passenger vehicle registrations at the end of 2022, the most recent year for which state-level data is available.

Currently there are only four public high-speed charging stations in the sate that are compatible with all EVs, and buildout of a privately-owned network along Wisconsin’s interstates and other major highways is stalled until state law changes to allow gas stations and other private businesses to directly sell electricity to drivers. The state Assembly last week passed legislation to address that problem and free up nearly $80 million in federal dollars to fund it. A Senate vote is expected in March.

More: Wisconsin Assembly backs buildout of statewide electric vehicle charging network

That issue is only part of the reason for Wisconsin drivers’ reluctance to embrace electric vehicles. Also on the minds of shoppers and tire-kickers at this year’s auto show are concerns about how far cars, trucks and SUVs can go before recharging and the impact of cold weather on range and charge times.

All of those things were part of the conversation as Steve and Kelly Payne of South Milwaukee looked at a Mazda CX90 plug-in hybrid SUV and discussed the pros and cons of all electric, plug-in hybrid and tradition internal-combustion vehicles.

Chief among Kelly Payne’s reservations is charge time. The couple have two young children and she just doesn’t see a way that a stop of 20 minutes or more will work with antsy kids in the car, but her husband seemed to be gaining traction on the idea of a hybrid’s better gas mileage and convenience.

“That’s what I want,” Steve Payne said. “I think that gas is done. It’s out dated and this is the future, but she doesn’t trust it yet.”

Eric Brandt, a Green Bay-based vehicle reviews editor for Autotrader, said all of those concerns, particularly cold weather performance and charging infrastructure, make it likely that EV sales will grow slowly in Wisconsin in coming years even as they surge in other, warmer states.

Charging infrastructure, he said, is fixable over time, but reductions of as much as 40% of a car’s range in 20 degree temperatures will be a persistent problem, he said.

“It’s going to be hard to engineer away the problems that come with the cold weather,” he said.

For that reason, he expects Wiscosinites looking for a greener driving alternative will continue favor hybrid vehicles, of which there are more than 100,000 on Wisconsin roads. Meanwhile, the majority share of the fully-electric vehicle market is likely to be two-car families who buy an EV for commuting and other in-town driving, he said.

“Especially around here, there aren’t a lot of people who have an EV as their only car,” Brandt said. “You know, it’s something that they have in the garage next to a regular gas powered car for those longer trips, but I think we’ll keep seeing a slow kind of steady growth.”

Maura Johnson of Wauwatosa was looking at a Kia EV6 at the auto show with her husband, Ethan. She said she’s done a lot of research on EVs and is pretty sure she isn’t ready to to make the leap. Cost is an issue, she said, with a child still in college, and they’re content to wait for batteries to improve and for costs to come down.

Until then, the couple’s Subaru Crosstrek plug-in hybrid cuts fuel costs and serves as “a toe in the water.”

“There’s still a lot of hurdles to be cleared,” she said. “I think we’re at the beginning of the world of EV cars.”

This article was originally published by a www.jsonline.com . Read the Original article here. .

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