By on June 6, 2011

„When you run out of battery with your EV, no AAA will help you – except with a tow.”

This line is a favorite weapon in the low-level propaganda war between gas and electric. Now Nissan, purveyor of the Leaf, goes on the counter-attack. Nissan deployed its first roadside service vehicle equipped with a charger to assist EVs that ran out of juice.

So far, it’s a trial only, together with the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), Japan’s counterpart of the AAA. The trial service commences on June 7, 2011.

JAF will deploy the roadside service vehicle with the charger from its Kanagawa branch office and will use it on a trial basis as part of its service menu from fiscal year 2011.

There are other precautions that need to be taken. Masakazu Kume, Executive Director of the JAF said: “We have already prepared insulated gloves and goggles for our service vehicle staff to assist EVs. We will actively respond to requests from EV motorists as more and more EVs hit the road.”

Remember: This is only a test. There is only one vehicle in Japan, in Kanagawa, outside of Tokyo. AAA doesn’t have such a truck. So keep watching that gauge.


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27 Comments on “Stranded EV? Help Is Near. Well, Not Quite …...”

  • avatar

    Maybe if that piece of junk had a GASOLINE ENGINE as a backup, you wouldn’t be stranded?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      An integrated, onboard diesel generator would work fine, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Or, an optional hitch-mounted range extender APU, rentable at a dealership for road trips and other long-distance needs. The EV would need a class 2 hitch, a power connector next to it, and software mods to control the range extender turbine and permit charging while in motion.

        Oh, and make it a Bladon Jets microturbine with 5 gallons of fuel, should be doable in 50-70kg combined, and well within the tongue weight of a class 2 hitch

      • 0 avatar

        @ kenneth


    • 0 avatar

      Here to set record straight; The non-genset integrated AC/DC power system was developed in USA by me to be used for fire trucks, military trucks, the FBI, etc. Over 1.5 years past we added level three high speed mobile charging to our application base; the automotive companies were and still are a little late at where the power is going to come from. The system can fully charge a level 3 car or truck(85-100miles) in less than 15 minutes for less than 1 gallon of fuel. The practial result is prox 90 MPG on any level 3 EV anywhere one of these trucks set; and if any car needs a tow the truck is a two for one. All fuel must be deliveried; don’t think that your gas falls into the fuel stations tank from the sky. The only rating for better fuel economy is fuel economy. If the small or hybrid car gets greater than 90 MPG that is a win. If it does not work harder to improve; than is what I am doing every day.

  • avatar

    I Agree. Thats when one wakes up to appreciate the Chevy Volt. I also wonder what that charging truck uses to reach the depleted Leaf. Gas????How Stupid do you think people are.?! Or if its on battery again, are they gonna have another charging truck to charge the first and then to the Leaf.??
    Imagine all 3 wired up together. C’mon Nissan who you kidding.

  • avatar

    Buy a Volt and call it done, or be comfortable and get an Impala!

    • 0 avatar

      It’s quite a leap of faith to expect a car owner to pay attention to the amount of energy being used. I guess it’s like gasoline use but shorter in range and the expression YMMV takes on enhanced meaning.

      If they intend to raise awareness about energy use this will surely do it. Ordinary people will soon discover how much it takes to move a large object through the air and over hills at speed.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie


        An EV is like driving a car with a 1 or 2-gallon gas tank.

        That takes hours to refill.

        You better believe the driver pays attention to the remaining energy.

        That said, a lot of driving is energy intensive, and gravity is a stern and unforgiving mistress.

      • 0 avatar

        re: SVX Pearlie:

        “That said, a lot of driving is energy intensive, and gravity is a stern and unforgiving mistress.”

        Her sisters friction and wind resistance are mean bitches, too. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Yeah, but friction and wind resistance can be minimized by driving at a snail’s / Pious’ pace.

        Gravity, either you’ve got the stored energy to go over the top, or you don’t.

  • avatar

    At least the owner is acting in an environmentally responsible fashion, bless his heart.

    I guess the truck and resulting generator runs on unicorn farts or some other environmentally responsible renewable energy source generated from waste produced by the climate change deniers.

  • avatar

    no EV owners are self focused individuals that think others should do as they do, however, once your out of that circle of thought, they dont care about what resources are used to recharge their cars when suffering from range anxiety. They just dont get it that a small Cruze is better than what they’re driving in the long run. Do you have any idea just how pollutant unicorn farts are! Worse than Methane gas!

  • avatar

    How many charges does it take to offset the emissions generated by the truck to come out and charge your stranded car? A few years worth?

  • avatar

    I see a huge market for this service in the coming years. In addition to tow trucks waiting near the expressway for accidents we will have pickup trucks with portable generators waiting for EVs to drop dead.

    How much per minute will the driver be paying to recharge his EV to get him home? I’d run it as a cash only business, much more profitable that way.

    California will probably take tax dollars and buy mobile recharging stations and set them up on the 405. I mean, hey, why stop with taxpayer funded recharging stations in town when you can bring the precious juice right to the stranded motorist in the HOV lane.

    Or we could ticket EV drivers for running out of power and forcing us to drive a fossil fuel vehicle with fossil fuel generator to them and waste foreign made oil recharging their car. The crime would be an environmental one, with serious consequences. How about preventing their car from starting until it’s fully charged again?

    The sky is the limit with this stuff.

  • avatar

    People love to take offense at any mention of electric cars. Personally, I have no intentions of buying one in the foreseeable future however I am appreciative of the people that choose to “invest” in a new and upcoming technology. When or if oil reaches the point where it’s just too expensive to burn as fuel and alternative powered cars become more mainstream, we’ll all be thanking the early adopters for putting an infrastructure in place to make a transition for the masses an easier event.

    Additionally, don’t judge somebody’s choice to buy what they want. A “bigtruckseries” may not be for everyone but as soon as you start knocking their vehicles of choice, they’d have every right to make their voices heard about the associated problems with yours.

    • 0 avatar

      The vast majority of us didn’t choose to invest thousands of dollars in tax credits for someone else to make that choice. I get to judge their choice because it cost me and the guy next store big bucks in many ways when they made it.
      When they pay their own freight with their gloried golf carts they will get all the respect. They can trade their own dollars for a cleaner world and I’ll be much obliged.

      And they already make their voices heard about the choices we made with regards to vehicles, all over the back of their cars.

  • avatar

    This does not appear to be totally practical. For how long does the charging rescue vehicle have to wait to give the run-down vehicle a charge? Five minutes of charging gets you 10 seconds of driving? We know charging times are of the order of hours.
    The only way to make this really work would be for the rescue truck to swap out the dead batteries.

    • 0 avatar

      It depends on the charge rate and the actual vehicle. Ford claims at the “boost” setting that the soon to be released Focus BEV can get a full (100 mile)charge in 4 hours. So at that rate it’s under 3 minutes per mile. Of course that is assuming that the drive that follows is of that best case scenario.

    • 0 avatar

      The charger in the picture is plugged into that Leaf’s Level 3, DC-fast-charging Chademo port which provides about 30 miles of range in 10 min. As for the power source, the truck’s engine has to put out about 70 hp to provide the 50kw of electricity that the car expects.

      The Leaf’s Level 2 J1772 port is on the right side of the charging area (when facing the car – it’s got an orange cap.) Plugging into that port will give the driver about 15 miles of range per hour of charging and require roughly 4 hp from the truck (about ~3.3 kw.) A company called Club Assist (in Australia) is working on providing a mobile charger compatible with the J1772 port.

  • avatar

    “We have already prepared insulated gloves and goggles for our service vehicle staff to assist EVs.”

    What does the JAF expect the charge vehicle drivers/helpers will encounter? Wouldn’t it make more sense to swap out the batteries as described by tced2? Or wouldn’t a tow home make more sense?

    I’m not really an EV basher, but the above scenario is the wrong paradigm applied to the situation.

  • avatar

    For this to make practical sense, that truck is going to have to be equipped with one of the 440v fast chargers. Something that an hour’s worth of charge would let you get straight home.

    And yeah, I don’t get the EV hate, either. There’s a lot of people out there who are really resistant to any kind of change, obviously.

  • avatar

    I’m a Leaf fan, but that picture is not very compelling for EVs.

  • avatar
    George B

    I would guess that it would be faster and cheaper to simply tow the car to the nearest charging station or home.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    I think EVs running out of juice will be relatively rare, not much more frequent than gas cars running out of gas, which does happen. EV drivers are acutely aware of their remaining range, and take that into consideration, along with nearby recharging points and distance to home. Furthermore, as with drivers whose gas cars are running on fumes, EV drivers are at least likely to try to get themselves off of a freeway or other crowded street if they’re about to run out, so I don’t think you’ll see them clogging up freeways either.

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