More Mobile Charging Services Planned for Stranded Electrics


The million EVs promised by President Obama by 2015 would have a greater impact on our infrastructure than the huge number of charging stations and sufficient electricity needed to keep batteries charged, if such a hopeful number of EVs actually appeared on our roads by then. Mobile chargers would also be needed to assist stranded EVs with dead batteries.
AAA will be deploying its EV Assistance Trucks in Portland and Seattle in Washington; the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles in California; Knoxville in Tennessee; and Tampa/St. Petersburg in Florida to coincide with Nissan Leafs and other EVs hitting the streets. Other companies plan to offer mobile charging systems not exclusively dedicated to charging and towing EVs. They are less expensive and can be mounted in a small trailer or in a tow truck. These can provide sufficient charge in 15 to 30 minutes to enable a stranded EV to reach a nearby charging station.
Cross Country Automotive Services' EV Mobile Charger is mounted in a small trailer or in the tow truck itself. A two-stroke engine, running on clean burning propane, powers a generator to provide the charge. Club Assist's trailer mounted mobile unit uses a lithium-ion battery to do the charging.
While Nation-E has installed its mobile charging system in what it calls the Angel Car, the technology could be installed in about any larger vehicle. The system uses a large battery pack and a high voltage charger. Nation-E will offer the Angel Car as a completely installed package or as a separate system that can be dropped into a new or existing vehicle.
Realistically, it could a long time before there are enough stranded EVs to warrant large investments in mobile charging systems, even small ones. Until there are tens of thousands of EVs on the road these charging service vehicles probably would see seldom use. Most EVs drivers will never experience getting stuck on the side of a road with a dead battery. Even if there are a relatively large number of EVs, they will be dispersed over large areas like Los Angeles or Phoenix. If there are only a few EV rescue units in a region, it could be hours before they could reach a stranded motorist, especially in rush hour traffic. Finally, they are not needed for extended range electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt or other plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which have gasoline engines to provide power should the battery become fully discharged.