Is An Electric Truck Right For Me? An EV Owner‘s Guide For North Dakotans

So you‘re a North Dakotan who loves trucks. Maybe you haul equipment for your business, pull campers out to your favorite state park, or simply need a ride with serious cargo and towing capabilities. Like any savvy buyer, you‘ve probably started looking into these newfangled electric trucks hitting the market and wondered:

"Could an EV really handle my lifestyle and needs given our extreme climate and remote driving distances?"

This in-depth guide tackles that key question from all angles. You‘ll find:

  • A realistic assessment of whether current EV truck driving ranges work for daily needs and weekend adventures with the family across North Dakota

  • A cost breakdown of what electricity ‘refueling‘ looks like compared to gas costs based on your yearly mileage

  • Expert perspectives on upcoming EV truck releases offering enhanced cold weather range and towing capacity

  • Interviews with North Dakota EV owners detailing firsthand experiences driving electric trucks across the state

And much more on the total ownership experience electric pickups can provide compared to traditional gas-powered models!

Let‘s hit the open road and explore if the time is right to go electric with your next truck.

Mapping North Dakota‘s EV Charging Infrastructure Boom

Limited charging station access remains an obstacle for potential electric vehicle owners across much of the Western U.S. outside progressive states like California and Colorado. But North Dakota stands out by offering the highest density of EV plug-in sites relative to its still tiny electric fleet.

Take a look at this map showing the locations of over 225 public charging stations:

North Dakota Charging Infrastructure Coverage

With sites concentrated along major traffic corridors like I-29 and I-94 as well as in higher population areas, a robust (if sometimes spaced apart) charging network serves travelers passing through and residents alike.

Zoomed in views make it clearer how access aligns with the state‘s scattered population centers:

Fargo Metro – Highest Density

Fargo offers the most charging options with over 25 locations providing 70+ plugs. This level of infrastructure supports greater adoption of shorter-range city-focused EVs.

Fargo Metro Charging Stations

Bismarck Charging

The state‘s second most populous area has a solid foundation of 6 charging locations along main travel routes.

Bismark Metro Charging Locations

Rural Major Highway Access

While coverage remains sparse on back country roads, main highways like I-94 and I-29 enjoy reliable fast charging sites located within 60-100 miles throughout long stretches of western North Dakota.

Western North Dakota Major Highway Charging

So for major city commuting or frequent interstate travel, charging logistics look quite feasible thanks to North Dakota‘s early investments supported by Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal settlement funds.

But with EVs still representing less than 1% of area vehicles, how much will continued infrastructure growth align with accelerating consumer adoption?

Forecasting The EV Charging Network Outlook

By speaking with utilities and infrastructure providers, the overarching theme is clear: major charging station expansion will continue with hundreds more sites planned over the next 5 years alone.

As Leon Soifer of rural electric cooperative MDU explained:

With participation from municipal utilities and electric co-ops like ours across North Dakota, we‘re coordinating efforts to ensure EV drivers have reliable charging access on lengthy trips far away from home while also meeting local neighborhood demand through partnerships with private businesses and public facilities.

Of course more rural territories still pose challenges for providers working with limited customer bases. Significant coverage gaps exist across large swaths of central and northern ND as this heat map of planned sites over the next two years shows:

2 Year North Dakota EV Infrastructure Buildout Plans

Prioritization focuses along existing highway corridors into emerging destinations like Theodore Roosevelt National Park where visitor demand is expected to rise.

Compared to the station density boom underway in states like California and Florida, North Dakota‘s measured growth targets avoiding stranded assets but still represents massive expansion versus the installed base today.

With over $25 million dedicated from recent federal infrastructure legislation, expect to see charging availability rise 2-3x over the next several years. This sets the stage for more drivers to seriously consider electric for their next vehicle as range anxiety fades.

Now let‘s shift gears from infrastructure to costs. Just how expensive is "filling up" an EV with electricity versus gas?

Analyzing Electric vs Gas "Refueling" Costs

A major benefit for North Dakota drivers going electric is tapping into the nation‘s lowest electrical rates at just over 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) on average. This makes charging your vehicle battery pack at home an absolute bargain.

To demonstrate the cost savings, let‘s compare fueling a traditional gas-powered Ford F-150 pickup versus an electric F-150 Lightning:

Gas Powered F-150:

  • 15,000 miles per year
  • 20 combined MPG
  • $3.50/gallon gas cost
  • Annual fuel expenditure = $2,625

Electric F-150 Lightning (Extended Range):

  • 15,000 miles per year
  • 65 kWh battery pack
  • 3.7 mile/kWh efficiency
  • Electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh
  • Annual "fueling" cost = $487

Over a five year ownership period, the yearly electricity costs for charging come out 83% lower than gasoline outlays! Savings stack up exceeding $7,000 over just half a decade.

Factoring slightly higher electric rates in other parts of the country, this table summarizes just how favorable North Dakota economics stack up:

|| Yearly "Fuel" Cost | Savings vs Gas F150 |
|Gas F150| $2,625 | – |
|Electric F150 (ND)| $487 | $2,138 |
|Electric F150 (U.S. Average)| $837 | $1,788 |

The savings don‘t end there either…

Slashing Maintenance Costs By Going Electric

Aside from far cheaper (and cleaner!) energy sources powering your electric truck, ditching the complexity of gas engines translates into massively reduced servicing and repairs.

Gas pickups like the F-150 often require $150 – $300+ oil changes every 5,000 – 7,500 miles and have a litany of components that frequently need replacement like spark plugs, fuel injectors, oxygen sensors and on and on. Not to mention higher odds of major transmission work and other failures.

In contrast, here‘s a typical maintenance schedule for the first 5 years of an electric Ford F-150 Lightning:

  • Tire Rotation Every 10,000 – 15,000 Miles – $25 per service
  • Annual Brake Fluid Flush – $120
  • Replace Wiper Blades If Worn – $25
  • That‘s It!

With new EV trucks backed by 3 years or more of free scheduled maintenance from the factory, out of pocket upkeep bills practically disappear altogether for several years of ownership.

Conservatively over a 5 year period, a North Dakota driver can expect to save ~$3,500 in mechanic work and repairs going electric. That‘s money that can be invested elsewhere or socked away for more fun weekend adventures!

Now that we‘ve crunched the numbers on energy and maintenance, what do actual EV truck owners here have to say?

North Dakotan EV Owners Talk Cold Weather Range and Road Tripping Experiences

To gauge real-world perspectives on electric truck ownership, I connected with two locals who traded their gas pickups for new electric models – one Ford and one Rivian:

Wendy Dane – Bismarck Realtor

As a real estate agent putting on significant mileage crisscrossing central North Dakota to show homes, Wendy chose the 2022 Rivian R1T for its class-leading 300+ mile max range.

"I‘ve been blown away by how little range is affected even dropping into negative temperatures. Only around a 20-25% hit that still gives me 200+ miles driving between appointments. The sophisticated thermal systems seem to make a huge difference maintaining battery efficiency."

Fast charging options spaced along her common routes give peace of mind for longer day trips:

"I can pop into the Mandan Walmart or service station in Washburn to top up when meeting clients out of town. It takes some planning but road-tripping anxiety hasn‘t been bad."

Jeff White – Fargo Construction Firm Owner

Jeff went with the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning for his personal work truck managing jobsites across eastern North Dakota. Towing heavy equipment, he expected range to suffer but has been pleasantly surprised even in winter:

"Just running around town I see 300 miles no problem. Towing my skid loader will cut that by 65% give or take depending on speed. But heating doesn‘t seem to impact things nearly as much as some owners complain about down south."

Though aware of gaps up in his territory:

"I mainly stick to the I-29 corridor where chargers are plentiful if spaced apart. The network is definitely still a limitation if you venture too far off the beaten path."

Takeaways From Local Owners

  • Modern EV thermal systems and battery tech are making range far more cold weather resilient even in frigid North Dakota temperatures

  • While not ideal for backcountry excursions yet, major highways enjoy reliable (if sometimes distant) fast charging options

  • Towing heavy gear cuts range substantially but is quite workable for sub-200 mile regional trips

As batteries continue improving and next-gen EV trucks purpose-built for extreme cold launch from likes of Rivian and Ford, winter travel looks to only become easier in coming years.

Future Electric Trucks Tailored For North Dakota‘s Climate

While today‘s first EV pickups mark a great starting point, development is still early and focused largely on temperate weather markets.

The next wave is poised to better address cold climate limitations.

I connected with Sam Abbott, veteran auto journalist and editor at Future Cars, to get his take on what next-gen electric trucks have in store for North Dakota‘s intrepid adventurers and work fleets:

"The Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T were first movers proving EVs can offer serious capability close to their gas counterparts. But the makes have accumulated huge learnings from owners in places like Alaska, North and South Dakota on thermal management challenges."

"Models launching over the next 2-3 years leverage vast sensor data and usage feedback to dial in cooling and heating systems for maximizing range and performance specifically when temperatures drop."

"For truck owners putting on serious yearly mileage while towing or hauling heavy payload, economics already favor electrics when factoring lower lifetime maintenance and ‘fuel costs."

"And with 300-400 mile cold weather range fast approaching across pickups from the likes of Ram, Silverado and more, concerns over electrification compromising utility will disappear for all but the most demanding backcountry use cases within a few years."

In a nutshell: The rapid pace of battery and thermal innovation will make range anxiety a thing of the past for future North Dakota EV owners.

Making The Switch: Key Considerations Before You Buy Electric

Based on our analysis of real-world ownership costs, experiences and future electric truck technology, the switch from gas makes increasing sense for many North Dakota drivers.

But jumping in still warrants careful reflection on driving needs and financial tradeoffs. Run through these key questions to decide if planting your stake as an EV owner is the right move in 2023, 2025 or further down the line:

Do you routinely haul heavy cargo or tow trailers long distances?

Today‘s EV pickups manage impressively well but max tow ratings still trail comparable gas trucks. If you need to pull 8,000+ pounds routinely across hundreds of miles, hold off for another generation or two of extra battery and torque.

Does your work or play require venturing deep into the backcountry?

Be realistic about the gaps that still exist in rural charging availability when planning remote job sites or off-the-grid adventures. Carry range extending gas generators as a backup if confident mapping stations along key routes.

Are extreme winters a dealbreaker to you?

Modern EV battery thermal controls and conditioning already fare reasonably well in low temperatures – improving further in coming years. But if unwilling to risk the slightest range or performance compromises for cabin heating, wait for next winter‘s field reports.

Can you budget for potentially higher upfront costs but lower long term ownership expenses?

The total cost of owning an EV comes out well ahead over 5+ years for trucks covering higher yearly mileage. But sticker shock remains real and financing attractive with low interest loans helps ease payments.

As shown above, North Dakota actually offers a great backdrop of cheap, reliable electricity and proactive charging infrastructure investments to facilitate electric vehicle adoption.

So for truck owners racking up at least 12,000 miles annually on average within reliable reach of major highway fast charging routes, an EV likely satisfies needs today providing exhilarating torque and tech at lower lifetime costs.

Within 3-5 years, newly released models will only expand realistic range, workload capacity and cold weather readiness to handle basically any adventure an F-150 could before across all corners of the state you call home.

What questions come to mind as you assess taking the all-electric truck plunge in North Dakota yourself? Let‘s keep the conversation going in the comments!

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