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The Battle of the Mobile EV Chargers is On

by Roger Lanctot | Sep 04, 2011

Cross Country Automotive Services (CCAS) and AAA have almost simultaneously launched mobile EV charging programs in the U.S. CCAS described its program as “the nation’s first mobile charging warranty roadside assistance program." AAA announced in July its first roadside assistance truck with the capability to charge electric vehicles.  These programs are the precursors of ubiquitous mobile EV charging services, removing range anxiety from the psychological barriers to EV acceptance, but leaving sticker shock yet to be overcome.

Both programs are offered in a limited number of cities and are clearly targeting the earliest of adopters – ie. purchasers of Nissan’s Leaf EV – while anticipating the arrival of more Leaf-like vehicles.  The AAA program appears more forward looking than the CCAS program in that it offers two charging level options along with all of the usual roadside assistance services (tire replacement, battery charging, etc.) and, if all else fails, it can tow the customer’s vehicle.

CCAS says its mobile chargers may be mounted on small trailers and consist of 10 kWh propane-powered generators that charge the disabled electric vehicles. One of the AAA vehicles shown earlier this year features a removable lithium-ion battery pack for mobile charging.

AAA describes its program as a pilot via which the organization will evaluate the appropriateness of different technologies for use in different geographies around the U.S.  Other vehicles will be equipped with generators powered by alternative fuels and other power sources.

Both the CCAS and AAA programs offer emergency charging assistance – five or more miles of range for as little as 15 minutes of charge - to drivers whose EV batteries have been depleted.  Available to both service providers and dealerships, the CCAS chargers offer the capability to quickly and safely charge multiple vehicles concurrently through a Level 2 charging protocol, delivering consistent utility grade power. In addition, the charger is capable of back-to-back services without the need to recharge any onboard batteries.

AAA says its mobile EV charging roadside assistance vehicles can provide Level 3 (DC fast charging) and Level 2 (AC quick charging) to electric vehicles.

The seven initial markets for the CCAS program are: Los Angeles; Phoenix; Nashville (Tenn.); Portland; San Diego; San Francisco and Seattle. The company says the first mobile charge within the program was successfully completed on August 26 in Phoenix, taking only 15 minutes to provide driver with an additional 5 miles. Cross Country will be adding additional mobile charging units to other areas throughout its national service provider network across the country.

AAA announced it initially will deploy its trucks with mobile electric vehicle charging capability in six metropolitan areas across the U.S. as a pilot program, including Portland, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Knoxville (Tenn.) and the Tampa Bay area. The phased rollout will begin later this summer and continue into the fall. Let the charging begin.

Additional insight:

http://bit.ly/qlP7i1 - When is 54.5 mpg not 54.5 mpg? US CAFE Targets May Disillusion US Car Buyers - Insight - Ian Riches - Automotive Electronics Service 

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