A Tesla driver from California thought they could quietly borrow some joules in the EV-barren town of Ekalaka, Montana — population 400 or so — but their Model Y ended up on the front page of the local newspaper, dubbed a UEV (or unidentified electric vehicle). “Borrowed Volts,” read the article title in the Ekalaka Eagle, which mentions that it might be the first electric vehicle ever to charge in the town.
The port was a NEMA 14-50, the kind often used to power RVs, and despite the passenger’s concern about charging at a random outlet, it was better than their original backup plan of finding a 120-volt plug that might take days to charge the vehicle. As they returned for a second round of charging and found the plug shut off, a local drove by and told them they’d made the front page of the newspaper.
The manager for the local utility co-op’s been thinking about adding EV chargers “in the next decade,” but state funds aren’t prioritizing the backroads that lead to the town.
It’s possible that, if the driver were cruising at a higher speed on the highway during the trip, the vehicle could have started warning them to keep a lower steady speed to reach the next charger. (Although Teslas reportedly can paint a rosy picture of how far they can go on a single charge.) But even if they made it to the next station, they probably wouldn’t have had as good of a story to tell.
Personally, my favorite part of the story was when the driver and his travel partner were met with a room full of laughter at the power utility after they came in to “pay for the crimes of the UEV,” as the concerned passenger put it. No harm, no foul. They paid $60 for the charge — which included the cost of power for a musician who used the same port for a street dance event as part of the town’s dinosaur festival.