One step forward, two back

Mobile charging stationI doubt if you read Autoweek magazine. That’s why I’m sharing this story from the October 31, 2011 issue.

AAA now has trucks devoted to charging stranded electric cars in six different US cities. At the moment, that would only be two vehicles — the Nissan Leaf and the Mistubishi i. And there are maybe 25 actual cars floating around the US. So it’s a near-future-oriented program.

Anyhow, I was amused at the thought of a relatively low fuel economy truck being driven across town to charge up an “ultra-green” car. It kind of defeats the purpose.

Another strange thing is that the trucks charge up the cars to travel another 3–15 miles … to “reach a charging station.” Good luck finding a charging station. You might know that most fully-electric cars take about 24 hours to charge from a regular household circuit. (A devoted 240- or 480-volt outlet drops the full charge time down to 3–6 hours.)

My constructive suggestion? Use a much cheaper tow truck and tow the car to the owner’s home. Or an office or store that has an electric extension cord.

Electric cars aren’t ready for prime time. Yet.

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4 Replies to “One step forward, two back”

  1. Hey Paul,
    I wonder about a swap out battery: Something small enough that it can be lifted out and switched with a fully charged one. The electrical equivalent of a little red 2 gallon gas can.

    Shane

    1. Batteries are heavy. Manufacturers try to minimize the weight of electric cars. However, a “second tank” might help owners who don’t plan ahead very well!

  2. I heard a guy speaking about energy and technology and he said the electric car is the next up and coming technology … and it always will be. He showed headlines from the 1950s (I think) that touted the electric vehicle. It said, all they need to do is get batteries lighter and to last longer. Then more headlines from the 1970s — same story. Yep. Still a problem today. I hope we can get there someday, but I agree with you, they aren’t quite there yet. Although, the Volt is a pretty cool car.

    1. Great observations, Joe.

      If someone offered me a Volt, I’d say yes!

      One of the possible down-sides to the Volt is that when its technology starts to break down, the repair bills might be really high. Also, as you know, first-generation products often don’t have the bugs worked out.

      One of my clients is a Chevy dealer, and the general manager told me that they are not getting any Volts. They’ve been able to sell maybe just two, because that’s all Chevy can delver! Their pipeline isn’t sorted out yet.

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