AAA Is Now Providing Emergency Electric-Vehicle Charging Services To Stranded Drivers

If your EV stutters to a halt while you’re cruising down the highway, call the same people who fix flats on your regular car. And more mobile charging options may soon be coming to your street.

Range anxiety–the fear that your electric car will run out of power while you’re driving–is a mostly unfounded worry. After all, there are now a slew of maps and apps to help drivers find charging stations on the quick (and when was the last time you ran out of gas?). But what happens on the off chance that your car stutters to a halt while you’re cruising down the highway?


Call AAA

This is probably the easiest and most instinctive solution. AAA announced this week that it is sending out EV mobile charging units in its roadside assistance operations. The organization will start with six units in select states (including California, Florida, and Washington) in August. All of the charging units will come with Level 2 chargers, which can juice up a vehicle in a matter of hours, and Level 3 chargers that can power up a car in a matter of minutes. Only vehicles that feature CHAdeMO charging technology will be able to use the Level 3 chargers.

Call Nation-E (eventually)

Before AAA got on board with mobile EV chargers, there was Nation-E, a Swiss company specializing in smart meters, energy storage, and now mobile charging stations. Last year, the company claimed to have developed  the first mobile charging station for EVs–a portable device dubbed the Angel Car Mobile Service Unit. The unit comes with a charger that can juice up a vehicle in 15
minutes with enough power to go nearly 19 miles, which is theoretically enough to drive to a standard charging station. Nation-E hasn’t yet revealed a plan for commercialization.

Call the Japan Automobile Federation (if you live in Japan)

Nissan and the Japan Automobile Federation (the Japanese equivalent of AAA) announced earlier this month that they are launching a trial service with a mobile battery charging unit, much like AAA’s trial service in Japan. Japanese Nissan Leaf owners also have the option of signing up for Nissan’s optional towing plan, which covers up to $6,599 in towing fees, according to CNET.


So for now, at least, AAA looks like the best option for EV owners in the U.S. That’s not to say there isn’t room for enterprising startups to muscle in on their territory–but AAA has the name recognition, the cash, and a head start.

[Image: Nissan]

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.