AAA Unveils Tow Truck Capabale of Electric Vehicle Charging

AAA Oregon/Idaho is proud to unveil a truck that can charge electric vehicles on the roadside. AAA Oregon/Idaho is one of six AAA clubs in the country taking part in a pilot program to test roadside assistance vehicles with the ability to charge electric vehicles. In addition to Portland, other markets are Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Knoxville, Tenn., and the Orlando area. The phased rollout will continue over the next several months.

The launch of the AAA Mobile EV-charging trucks means the automobile and travel club can now come to the rescue of its members with depleted electric vehicles and provide AC and DC charging on the roadside.

New Member Benefit

AAA proudly makes this kind of service available to its members. We’ve been a leader in addressing the needs of drivers for more than a century, providing jump starts, tows, new batteries, fuel and locksmith services to our members in need. Now the introduction of mobile electric vehicle charging continues that tradition.

The truck deployed by AAA Oregon/Idaho is powered by a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled generator. Trucks being tested in other markets will be equipped with generators powered by other technologies, including hydraulic power take-off from the truck’s transmission and a removable lithium-ion battery pack. This will allow AAA to evaluate multiple technologies in different environments.

Oregon has been a key market for electric vehicles, and our members are very interested in roadside assistance for EVs. This development alleviates some ‘range anxiety’ with the ability to provide a charge to EVs on the roadside.

Charging Duration

AAA provides 10 to 15 minutes of charge time to members with discharged electric vehicles, which will allow the vehicle to go up to 10 miles (depending on the vehicle) to an electric vehicle charging station.

AAA has long been able to serve drivers who’ve run out of gas. We deliver a small amount of fuel to them so that they can safely get to the nearest gas station. Now we can offer a similar service for drivers of EVs. There are three charging levels for electric vehicles:

– Level 1 is a standard 120-volt household outlet. For reference, this would take roughly 20 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf.
– Level 2 is 240 volts AC (alternating current). Level 2 is commonly found in household electric clothes dryers and can charge a Nissan Leaf in approximately six hours.
– DC Fast Charging is DC (direct current) charging at high voltage—up to 500 volts DC. This allows a large amount of energy to be delivered to an EV in a very short period of time. A “depleted” Nissan Leaf could go to 80 percent state-of-charge in roughly 30 minutes with DC Fast charging.

All AAA mobile EV charging roadside assistance vehicles can provide DC Fast Charging and Level 2 AC Quick Charging to electric vehicles. The two-port charging station’s connector (plug) will work with most late-model EVs, and the charger is compatible with most currently produced EVs from large automakers.

More than Just a Charge

The mobile electric vehicle charging truck is very similar to AAA’s other light services vehicles — a noted difference to mobile charging vehicles recently unveiled in other countries. The truck is equipped to allow AAA’s technicians to provide traditional AAA Roadside Assistance capabilities to all motorists, such as battery testing and replacements, jump starts, tire changes and fuel delivery.

The first Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt shipped out to customers in December 2010. 2012 continues to be a busy year for the vehicle manufacturers. Nissan announced in April that LEAF sales had surpassed 20,000 units worldwide. GM, after scaling back production of the Volt in early 2012, has increased production to meet growing demands. Current manufacturer projections have 1.2 million electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. by 2015.

AAA Oregon/Idaho has chalked up many firsts in the AAA federation. In 2009, the club was the first in the U.S. to offer roadside assistance to bicyclists. And in 2008, AAA Oregon/Idaho unveiled its DriveGreen program, where members can purchase carbon offsets.

Learn about more of AAA’s member benefits around electric vehicles at AAA.com/charge.

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