Roadside Mobile Charging

Discussion in 'General' started by Nathan P, Aug 14, 2023.

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  1. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    Hello everyone! First post on the site. EV owner for about a year now with a 22 Ford Mustang MachE GT Performance. We’ve loved having an EV for daily use/around town. Have taken on the occasional longer trip, but usually will still take our truck on those.

    I’ve noticed a lot of folks lately that seem to have run out of charge and get stuck on the side of the road waiting on a flatbed to tow to the next closest station. I’m debating starting a mobile Level 2 charging company in my area.

    Does anyone else think such a service would be helpful, if it existed in your area? What would such a service be worth to you? $120? $150? Obviously if someone out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, those kind of costs would go up.

    Mainly gauging interest and to see if you would have less “range anxiety” if you knew an alternative recovery option existed vs risking damage from an inexperienced tow operator.
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  3. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    At age 73, my first and only tow, $180, was 1/2 mile to the Superchargers I was headed to. Your proposed service would have the same 'wait time' and similar costs. Today, it is easier to get towed to the fast DC charger and be on my way.

    As a preventative, I've ordered a $200 instrumentation package that should report the actual battery reserve capacity. Before finding this package, I was looking at a Walmart portable generator, $300, to actually measure the real world reserve capacity ... the 'forbidden experiment.' As long as I know the actual battery capacity at all times, I can avoid a tow.

    BTW, I've signed up for road side towing with my insurance company since I have to carry liability anyway.

    Bob Wilson
  4. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    I appreciate the response and feedback. Just curious, what was the wait time for a tow truck to come to you and get you to the charger?
  5. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Welcome to the forum! Have you really seen a lot of stranded, chargeless EVs? I've never seen one in my southeast Michigan area.

    AAA has a pilot program in 15 cities to provide mobile charging. With all their experience, it will be interesting to see if they decide to expand the program.

    It seems like it would be problematic to provide such a service because I don't think there's a way to provide fast DC charging so the person bringing the electrons would have to hang around for a long time waiting to be sure the EV could get to a working charging station. A tow to the charging station would be much quicker, requiring less waiting around for the driver on the clock.

    I drive a MINI Cooper SE with a paltry 110-mile EPA-rated range. I've never gone below 15% charge because I don't want to be calling a tow truck if the charging station I'm targeting is down.
  6. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    Yes, actually. Very regularly around here! Lots of freeways where there are no stations to charge for miles and miles. Or busy folks that drive a lot that just might forget to stop or run out a mile away.

    There are DC fast charge options, but quite expensive.

    Would take around 25-30 minutes to give most people enough range to make it to a charger or home. Since EVs are flatbed tow only, that can take a while longer for them to arrive. Then they risk damage to vehicle loading it, then still have to tow you to a charger. Most around here are $120 just took hook you up and $5/mile. Especially in the hot southwest, I want to be back on road asap!
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  8. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    Also when I called for a tow truck (flatbed) a couple weeks ago for another vehicle of ours it took almost 3 hours for them to arrive.
  9. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    How would a stranded EV driver find you? Maybe Plugshare could create a rescue category. If they found your phone or website and there was more than 1 EV already waiting, there's a chance it would take you a significant amount of time to get to them.
  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Rough timeline:
    • 15-20 minutes - to get through AARP screeners to learn my membership does not cover towing.
    • 1:30 hours:minutes - waiting for tow truck to arrive.
    • 20 minutes - to get Tesla on tow truck, a non-trivial task as the parking brake must be released by the now weak, 12V battery
    • 15 minutes - to get through traffic to Supercharger and unload car
    • 45 minutes - car is charging while I eat a late lunch
    Bob Wilson
  11. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    Very valid points for sure.

    If the demand existed would definitely build up my own infrastructure to support more people in need, get in with applications to show as roadside for EVs etc. So if someone already waiting, it may be faster for a tow.

    But a good chance also that I can be to most people within 10-15 minutes, charge you enough for 15-20 miles of range in 30 min, and you can go on your way.

    Not a perfect system and obviously too we are in different areas of the country. The charging infrastructure out here is weak and you can go hundred + miles with no Tesla or EA/CP etc.
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  13. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    I appreciate your insight into the experience!

    So roughly 2 hours or so before you made it to the charger and $180.
  14. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I remember once reading that AAA was planning to have their trucks equipped with a generator for a quick charge. But reading it once and no follow-up, I didn't follow-up.

    IF I were interested in your business model, I would probably investigate a high-energy, thermal, primary cell. A semi-pryro battery like those in guided missiles, once ignited, you would have a short interval for a fast DC charge, to add 4-5 kWh.

    But the best answer is a credible battery capacity including the reserve. Had I know the reserve was not there, I would have gone less than a mile away and put a L2 charge for double the 5 mile distance to the Supercharger.

    One viable hypothesis is the 95 F heat may have led to an unknown, battery cooling load. Actually there are a bunch of hypothesis which are difficult to test and risky to battery life. So for now, I'll start with all knowable battery capacity and work it from there.

    Happily, my battery capacity does not appear to have a dip in capacity. I'm still seeing the same 161-163 mile range at 75%.

    Bob Wilson
  15. hobbit

    hobbit Well-Known Member

    Sparkcharge was one of the first players in the mobile rapid-charging [sorta, about 25 kW] market,
    and I was really interested in their developments, but they refused to sell their "jerry can" to anyone
    other than roadside rescue outfits. Still, a van with one of those units and a few packs, or as mentioned
    a decent-size generator as a far less clean solution, is probably a simpler mechanism to push a few
    needed miles into a car than a whole flatbed trip and the associated damage risk.

    Nathan P and bwilson4web like this.
  16. Puppethead

    Puppethead Well-Known Member

    I think they started in Denver, and it looks like AAA has been expanding service to other cities.
  17. I'm in Florida. My wife and I have driven to the northeast, NC and Iowa on trips over the last four years and for around 63k miles. So far in 5 years of EV driving we have not ran out of juice, yet, though in my ICE days I ran out of gas twice, maybe that is part of the reason why we stop to charge with plenty of buffer LOL. I did have a Ford Focus Electric EV towed once to a dealer in PA, actually from an EA station when the car would not roll, and just needed a sleep cycle, apparently. That took over an hour to get the truck there and load up the FFE. I can't remember very many instances of seeing a stranded EV myself, just one Bolt roadside in MD fall 2019, and a city-owned Leaf towed to an EA station last fall in FL. However, nothing surprises me.

    That said, with more un-informed-as-to-charging-habits and new-to-EV drivers on the road these days I can see mobile EV charging becoming a thing. Personally, I would rather just get a charge on the spot, than be towed to get a charge. Especially for EV's with 240V power port outputs like the Lightning has built-in. Maybe someday DC power out for EV to EV charging will become a thing.

    @Nathan P very cool and congrats on the Mach E GT Performance. I'm looking forward to your posts in the Mach E forum. We now have a '21 California Route and a '21 Select, both RWD, and love them.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2023
    Nathan P likes this.
  18. Nathan P

    Nathan P New Member

    Really appreciate all the feedback!
    I’ll see folks on the MachE forum. I’m a notorious forum creeper without ever signing up!

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