AAA unveils service trucks for electric vehicles

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AAA is expanding its service to electric vehicles. Image: abraham.williams/Flickr/CC BY-SA

For many motorists, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has long been the go-to place for roadside assistance. But what about the rising number of electric and hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) on our road? Who will service their needs? AAA will test one possible solution with a six-city trial of the service’s new mobile charging service trucks.

More EVs on the road

During his State of the Union Speech in January, President Obama stated that he wanted to see 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. A Google study predicts that as many as 90 percent of all vehicles by 2030 will be EVs and hybrids. State and federal government incentives are also helping entice consumers to consider alternative-powered vehicles.

AAA addresses rising need

“AAA has been a leader in addressing the needs of motorists for more than a century, and the introduction of mobile electric vehicle charging continues that tradition,” said AAA Vice President, Marshall L. Doney, at a news conference. “As the electric vehicle market continues to emerge, AAA is ready to help alleviate some ‘range anxiety’ with the ability to provide a charge to electric vehicles on the roadside that gets drivers back on the go quickly.”

Service truck unveiled

AAA unveiled one of its mobile power recharging trucks Monday at the Plug-In 2011 Conference and Exposition. The conference is currently under way in Raleigh, N.C. The truck is powered by Green Charge Networks and features a removable lithium-ion battery pack for mobile charging. Another type of vehicle will also be used in the field. Those will be equipped with generators for recharging EVs, and will be powered by alternative fuels or other power sources.

Used on a trial basis

The mobile charging vehicles will be used on a trial basis beginning next month in six U.S. metropolitan areas. The six cities selected for the trials are Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., San Francisco, Calif., Los Angeles, Calif., Knoxville, Tenn., and Tampa Bay, Fla. Each area will receive one truck, and more cities will be added in the months to come.

Not just for charging batteries

The trucks won’t be used just for power-related emergencies. John Nielsen, AAA Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information, explained:

“AAA’s mobile electric vehicle charging is intended to be a service similar to what AAA has provided to motorists with gas-powered vehicles for nearly a century. When your vehicle runs out of fuel — whether it is traditional gasoline or electric ‘fuel’ — AAA can provide you with a limited amount to help you safely reach a location where you can fill up your tank or your battery.”

The new AAA service will provide 10 to 15 minutes charging in order to give a Nissan Leaf or a Chevrolet Volt enough juice to make it to a power station.


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