AAA tests electric vehicle charging in Oregon
By Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
Oregon's AAA club is one of the first in the nation to test roadside assistance for electric vehicles.
Oregon’s AAA club is offering roadside help to electric vehicle drivers, putting battery-charging assistance on the road as part of a pilot to evaluate the use of different technologies.
The pilot put one EV-charging service truck in six metropolitan areas — Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Knoxville and Orlando — starting in June. They're called Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging Units and are the first phase of a project intended to add EV-charging vehicles to the company’s services nationwide.
AAA’s mobile EV charging vehicles provide DC fast charging in a pinch — enough juice to power a depleted Nissan Leaf to 80 percent in 30 minutes — in addition to Level 2 AC charging at 240 volts. They are intended to charge depleted EVs for 10 to 15 minutes roadside, allowing EVs to be driven three to 15 miles to a charging station in an emergency.
Because nothing like the service vehicles existed, AAA developed them at a cost upwards of $100,000 each and plans to test them vigorously.
“Because this is a first-of-its kind and we really are on the cutting edge here, we wanted to take the time to properly vet these technologies before we mass produce any of these,” said Marie Dodds, director of public and government affairs for AAA.
Oregon’s mobile EV charger powers up with a generator fueled by compressed natural gas. AAA is also testing generators powered by two other technologies, including hydraulic power take-off from the truck’s transmission and a removable lithium-ion battery pack. The goal of the pilot is to evaluate which technology work best according to climate before building out a fleet of EV charging vehicles nationwide.
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