Disastrous road-trip experience with electric truck turns Winnipeger off EVs
By Bradford Betz, Fox News, Aug. 11, 2023
A Canadian man is calling electric vehicles the “biggest scam of modern times” after his frustrating experience with an electric truck.
Dalbir Bala, who lives in the Winnipeg area, bought a Ford F-150 Lightning EV in January for $115,000 Canadian dollars (around $85,000 U.S. dollars), plus tax. Ford said the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the vehicle is $77,495 U.S. dollars.
He told FOX Business he needed the vehicle for his work, but also wanted something suitable for recreational activities such as driving to his cabin or going fishing. He also wanted an environmentally friendly vehicle as owning one is “responsible citizenship these days.”
But Bala was quickly hit with the reality of owning and operating an EV soon after the purchase. The vehicle compelled him to install two chargers – one at work and one at home – for $10,000. To accommodate the charger, he had to upgrade his home’s electric panel for $6,000.
In all, Bala spent more than $130,000 – plus tax.
Not long after the purchase, Bala got into a minor accident which, he said, required “light assembly” on the front bumper. Bala took the vehicle to the body shop and did not get it back for six months. He said no one from Ford answered his email or phone calls for help.
Chargers didn’t work on road trip
The limitations of the EV truck became even more apparent when Bala embarked on a chaotic 1,400-mile road trip to Chicago.
Fast-charging stations – which only charge EV’s up to 90% – cost more than gas for the same mileage. On the family’s first stop in Fargo, North Dakota, it took two hours and $56 to charge his vehicle from 10% to 90%. The charge was good for another 215 miles.
On the second stop, in Albertville, Minnesota, the free charger was “faulty” and the phone number on the charging station was of no help, he said. The family drove to another charging station in Elk River, Minnesota, but the charger was faulty there as well, Bala claimed.
“This sheer helplessness was mind-boggling,” Bala wrote in an online post. “My kids and wife were really worried and stressed at this point.”
Charging problem might have been vehicle’s
The Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) has disputed Bala’s account, saying the charge “was prohibited because of a ‘Vehicle Protocol Error’,” suggesting the problem was with the vehicle, not with the charger.
“This is verified further because the charging station’s reporting shows several successful uses before and immediately after this incident,” WH President and CEO told FOX Business in a letter.
Charging data shared with FOX Business show Bala had a successful charging attempt the same day.
Bala said he ultimately had the vehicle towed to a Ford dealership in Elk River and rented a regular gasoline-powered vehicle to complete the family’s trip to Chicago. The family picked up the F-150 Lightning on their way back to Winnipeg.
“It was in [the] shop for 6 months. I can’t take it to my lake cabin. I cannot take it for off–grid camping. I cannot take for even a road trip,” Bala wrote. “I can only drive in city – biggest scam of modern times.”
Consumers need to get ‘right information’
Bala told FOX Business he believes the government needs to do more to “provide consumers with the right information.”
“The actual thing they promised is not even close. Not even 50%. And once you buy it, you’re stuck with it and you have to carry huge losses to get rid of that. And nobody is there to help you.”
Ford, in a statement to FOX Business, noted that driving ranges can be impacted by weather and geography, but also acknowledged some of the challenges facing the industry.
“This customer’s experience highlights the urgent need to rapidly improve access to public charging across the U.S. and Canada. Ford’s EV-certified dealers will install public-facing DC fast chargers at their dealerships by early 2024, providing alternative charging options to those available today. Ford was also the first in the industry to gain access to over 12,000 Tesla Superchargers for Ford drivers.”
GM also announced a deal with Tesla Supercharger stations starting early next year with the use of an adapter plug, giving them access to 12,000-plus chargers.
Then, in 2025, GM will start integrating Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) connecter design in GM’s EV vehicles so customers can plug into a Supercharger without needing an adapter.
This story, originally published on Aug. 10, 2023, has been updated to include a statement from Ford and to clarify that the cost of the vehicle is in Canadian dollars.