Tesla Drivers in Chicago Confront a Harsh Foe: Cold Weather

With Chicago temperatures sinking below zero, electric vehicle charging stations have become scenes of desperation: depleted batteries, confrontational drivers and lines stretching out onto the street.

“When it’s cold like this, cars aren’t functioning well, chargers aren’t functioning well, and people don’t function so well either,” said Javed Spencer, an Uber driver who said he had done little else in the last three days besides charge his rented Chevy Bolt and worry about being stranded with a dead battery — again.

Mr. Spencer, 27, said he set out on Sunday for a charging station with 30 miles left on his battery. Within minutes, the battery was dead. He had to have the car towed to the station.

“When I finally plugged it in, it wasn’t getting any charge,” he said. Recharging the battery, which usually takes Mr. Spencer an hour, took five hours.

With more people owning electric vehicles than ever before, cold snaps this winter have created headaches for electric vehicle owners, as freezing temperatures drain batteries and reduce driving range.

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