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Jun 5, 2019

Can RVers bring their Electric Vehicle (EV) Toad to Alaska?

Electric vehicles (EVs) have really taken off in the last few years, thanks to increasing concerns about climate change, rising fuel prices, and the government subsidies that make them much more economical. Many RV owners are also choosing electric cars for their tow-behind vehicles (toads) to offset the RV’s higher fuel consumption. EV charging stations are now located near most interstate highways throughout the country, making towing an electric car more practical than ever!

Alaska has been slow to take up this trend, though, with residents purchasing just a few dozen EVs each year. One of the biggest obstacles to using an EV in Alaska is the vast distances between the state’s communities. With a few exceptions, most EVs have a limited range and need to recharge at least every 200 miles. To go even that far, the cars need a full level 2 charge, which takes all night. In addition, the bitterly cold temperatures seen in northern Alaska wreak havoc on EV batteries, drastically shortening their charging capacity and limiting the vehicle’s range.

However, while the North Slope’s oil fields at Prudhoe Bay are some of the world’s most productive, Alaskan gas prices often hover around $4 per gallon. Those high prices, combined with the low cost of clean hydroelectric power produced in the Panhandle, are a recipe for a burgeoning EV community.

As Juneau’s most popular tourist attraction, the Mendenhall Glacier, rapidly shrinks, the city has made efforts to “go green” with all new electric buses. Now, there are over a dozen charging stations in the city, which are also available to EV toad owners. It also helps that the capital’s longest road, the Glacier Highway, only extends for forty miles outside the city – well within the range of most electric cars. As Juneau is not connected to the North American highway system, though, these efforts are only helpful to city residents and those using the state’s ferry system. Additionally, the city of Cordova, which is also completely cut off from the state’s highway system and only has twenty or so miles of paved road outside of it, boasts a single charging station. However, only a couple of its residents own electric vehicles.

Currently, RV travel with an electric toad is mostly limited to the south-central portion of the state, along the Kenai Peninsula. A single charging station has been erected in Anchorage, but more are likely to follow as many of the city’s residents switch over to EVs. There’s also a charging station in Soldotna, about 150 miles down the peninsula; these are the only two Alaskan communities with charging stations that an electric vehicle can drive between. It still won’t work as a day trip though, as most EVs will need to recharge for several hours before making the return trip.

It’s unlikely that charging stations will be installed in towns further north, as low winter temperatures will prevent electric cars from functioning well there. But the peninsula is likely to see rapid growth as more communities install the charging stations.

Traveling along the Alaska Highway through Canada, you’ll have a few opportunities to charge your toad and go exploring; Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, and Whitehorse all have a few EV charging stations. Past Whitehorse, though, there are no more stations until you reach Anchorage, 700 miles away!

While electric charging stations are currently sparse in the Last Frontier, this is likely to change rapidly in the next few years, as more residents adopt the EV lifestyle. Electric car owners will have to make due with slower home charging stations though until enough of their neighbors also purchase one and fast charging stations begin to crop up. With all of the recent developments though, this is an exciting time to travel at least the southern portion of the state with an EV toad.

Day Trips to Take with Your EV Toad (distances are round-trip):

  • Anchorage to Chugach State Park (40 miles)
  • Anchorage to Alyeska Ski Resort (84 miles)
  • Soldonta to Seward and Kenai National Park (186 miles)
  • Soldotna to Homer (150 miles)
  • Cordova to where the pavement ends on the defunct Copper Highway (24 miles)
  • Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier (25 miles)
  • Juneau to the end of the Glacier Highway (75 miles)

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