Electric Car Running Flat? The AAA Has You Covered

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AAA's Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging truck

AAA's Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging truck

Enlarge Photo

You want to drive an all-electric car, but you've got range anxiety: the fear that you'll run out of charge in the middle of no where, miles away from the nearest charging station. 

Now there's a solution that lets you drive an all-electric car and know you'll not get stranded without hope. 

Enter the AAA. Last year, in select parts of California and Oregon and four other states, it started testing roadside assistance for rapid charging of electric cars whose owners were stranded because their car ran out of charge. 

If you’re lucky, the chances are you’ll never see the specially-designed assistance truck, because you won’t run out of charge. 

Which is probably why the AAA has announced a demonstration morning at Portland State University’s Electric Avenue this week in order to show electric car drivers how its recovery truck works. 

AAA's Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging truck

AAA's Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging truck

Enlarge Photo

“We’ll demonstrate the truck’s charging capabilities on a Nissan Leaf and have experts on hand who can explain how the truck works and answer your questions,” AAA spokeswoman Marie Dodds told OregonLive.com.

Fitted out with AAA livery and driven by specially-trained operatives, the assistance trucks look like any other breakdown truck. 

What makes them different however, is the large charging station mounted behind the driver’s cab. 

Capable of providing either a level 2, 240-volt charge or direct- current fast charging, the units are designed to give stranded electric cars a 15 minute top-up charge. 

Depending on the car and its charging specifications, those 15 minutes should provide up to 15 miles of range. 

Rather than being a one-trick pony, the AAA is keen to emphasize that the specialist mobile electric car charging roadside assistance vehicles will be able to carry out other repair work too, including tire repair and work on conventional gasoline vehicles. 

If you live in Portland, but don’t want to run out of charge to see the AAA’s latest weapon against range anxiety, the demonstration will take place on Friday, August 3 between 9am and 11am an Southwest Montgomery Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. 

Is the new AAA service a worthwhile one? Would you join the AAA just for this service?

And would knowing it existed help you make the decision to buy an all-electric car instead of a plug-in hybrid? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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Comments (6)
  1. I hope I never need it. But as an AAA member I'm glad to see them putting this into practice. People run out of gasoline all the time. Rarely on a per-person basis but daily for AAA. With EV ownership increasing, there will be a need. It will be interesting to watch stuff like this evolve from newsworthy, to a normal part of our lives.

  2. 15 miles range in 15 mins? Let us say 4-5 miles per KWh, that is a little bit less than 4KWh in 15 mins. Let us say 3KWh in 15 mins. That is 12KW charging system. Not many cars can do that today unless you have a fast DC charging. Level 2 charger will work up to 50As, but no car chargers are that powerful to do it except for Tesla... Ford Focus EV certainly can't.

  3. The picture clearly shows a Chademo DC fast charge connector in the AAA drivers hand.

  4. So, why bother with Level 2 charging then? Plus, how many EVs in the US beside Nissan Leaf comes wtih DC fast chargers?

  5. 15 minutes of Level 2 might not be enough to revive your turtle. glad I have a DC CHAdeMO connector on my car.

  6. Drive a Volt and forget about range anxiety..


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