By on January 19, 2018

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Image: Steph Willems

Reading about Hyundai’s new customer service program, it’s hard not to think of the M*A*S*H episode where a supply shortage forces the surgeons to donate their own blood to the patients they’re operating on.

That’s very similar to how Hyundai Canada’s just-announced “Charge Here” service works. Unlike in the United States, where EV drivers stranded with a drained battery can pick up the phone (in some markets) and call AAA for a top-up, no such service exists in the Great White North. With its first electric model now plying the country’s roadways, the automaker figured the best way to help stranded Ioniq Electric drivers was with other Ioniq Electrics.

The service, which starts in the EV-heavy Montreal area this spring, sees Ioniqs come to the aid of overly optimistic drivers sidelined by their car’s modest 124-mile range. The savior Ioniq drains 7 kWh of juice from its own battery to the recipient car, resurrecting it with about 25 miles of range — enough to make it home or to a public charging station.

The hookup lasts about 20 minutes. A trunk-mounted converter and two Level 3 charging cables allow the donor car to reverse the normal flow of electrons — out from the car’s charge port to the convertor, and then on to the dead vehicle.

“It’s still early days for the adoption of battery electric vehicles by customers in Canada,” said Don Romano, president and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada, in a statement. “We often hear from customers hesitant to make the switch to an EV that they are concerned about range. Frankly, we can’t blame them as no one wants to be stranded on the side of the road. So, with Hyundai Charge Here, we’re giving EV owners peace-of-mind that Hyundai can help them get home or to a nearby charging station.”

Hyundai Canada’s offering the complimentary service as part of its roadside assistance program, available without cost for five years after the purchase of a battery electric Hyundai. It’s also studying “whether the program should eventually be expanded to other regions.”

Choosing Montreal as the debut city was an easy choice, as 50 percent of Ioniq Electric sales arise from Quebec. The model’s availability remains limited in the U.S., however, with sales relegated just to California.

It’s worth noting that Tesla’s roadside assistance program covers towing for battery or drivetrain issues, but doesn’t offer roadside recharging or tows for vehicles with a discharged battery. Still, Fred Lambert will surely come up with a reason to call Hyundai’s service a dumb idea.

Interestingly, in 2016, five years after it started its roadside EV recharging service, AAA commented on how seldom customers used it. Apparently, nervous EV drivers automatically give themselves a 20 percent “reserve” while driving.

A man’s got to know his (car’s) limitations.

[Images: Steph Willems/TTAC, Hyundai]

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41 Comments on “The Dead Zone: New Roadside Service Sees Electric Hyundais Take One for the Team...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nice idea, but with two issues:

    1. EVs don’t run out of juice because their drivers always plan ahead. It’s a pain, but that’s how it works.

    2. The Hyundai Ioniq EV sells in such low volume that it’s improbable help is nearby.

    • 0 avatar
      mxs

      1) Not all people can plan and do little math in their head … the early adopters/enthusiasts, yes, but the EV’s will start to be adopted by people who really are not either.

      2) For now, even that will start changing.

      It might be a good service for some, especially in areas where public charging is not readily available.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      I will counter that with a fact that a few years ago I was working for a tow truck company while attending college. Do you know I lost count of how many BEV’s I towed because they ran out of juice because they ‘forgot to plan ahead’ and didn’t plug in their car over night or simply didn’t look at the gauge to see how much juice was left and how far they would get before they would run out. Mostly women, but men forget those things too. Also, A.M./P.M. didn’t seem to make any difference, and people run out of gas in I.C.E. and BEV’s regularly.

      The trouble is, AAA only allows a certain amount of loaded mileage before the customer has to pay, and road side assistance only allows towing to the nearest dealership if the vehicle is inoperable. Tesla is generous with 500 miles, but that is because they don’t have a lot of service centers like marque dealerships have.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Living in the Northern Part of the Great White North, I have yet to see a BEV.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Dead EVs are a common sight in Norway, especially during the winter. People in a rush to get someplace in an EV that is not fully charged and/or with a cold battery, using heat to stay warm and keep the windows clear of ice during the drive, and poof there goes the range you were counting on with no quick way to “fill the tank”. So with the realization you are marginal on being able to get to your destination, you turn the heat off and shiver as you nurse the car along in the slow lane, and ignore the impending instrument panel warnings to just get that last few miles home – and sometimes it still doesn’t work – time to call the Auto Club towing service. Yes similar things can happen with gasoline/diesel cars in cold weather, but typically it is when they are old beaters. Since most EVs are less than 4 years old and still in the “prime of life”, its not hard to imagine how winter unreliable they will be when they get to be 10-15 years old (if they survive that long).

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    124 mile range? That’s pretty weak, the rescue car is in peril if it’s more than 99 miles away.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Why didn’t you factor in the need for the rescue car to get back to a charger? In too much of a hurry to bash ev’s, or just not that bright?

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        Considering how Montreal is only 166 square miles, all you would need to do is have 3 or 4 Ionics stationed at various locations along the center ‘spine’ of the city. Montreal is sort of long and narrow, at approx. 33 miles long and only 18 miles wide. I’m sure if there were three charged vehicles staged centrally it would work.

        My question is, what happens when those owners venture outside of the city limits?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “My question is, what happens when those owners venture outside of the city limits?”

          No different than venturing outside the city limits in a fuel powered vehicle.

          Check your fuel/energy supply and calculate your range!

          In Southern Canada, 124 miles (198 km) will get you to the next town.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeremiah Mckenna

            “No different than venturing outside the city limits in a fuel powered vehicle.”

            Absolutely different. In an I.C.E. you can get more gas at the station or call road side assistance if you run out. But with the BEV, and the Ionic, if you run out of juice, you can’t simply call road side if you are out of the city of Montreal. They only cover that city.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          They’re supposed to take government choo-choos. Run by government workers; paid for with government money-printing; and searching passengers beforehand as government TSA workers now do at airports.

          This government-encouraged fantasy of battery-powered cars, is just a back door into forcing marginal, unworkable technology to displace proven, practical technology that’s worked fine for a century.

          And unless the government planners ALSO plan a series of new nuclear power stations, that electricity which demand-for will double, is not pollution free. Given modern car exhausts, or coal-fired powerplant emissions…I’ll take the tailpipe.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        The distance to a charger is an unknown quantity. I’ll say it’s 25 miles to a charger, so the rescue car will have to be within 74 miles of the dead EV for both of them to get to the charger. This assumes, of course, that the rescue car was fully charged to begin with. There, hopefully this illustrates my point more clearly. 124 mile range is woefully inadequate.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          You might not have to make it to a full-blown charger. All you need to find is a 120v outdoor outlet. I know parking locations that have them. Some businesses list them on the plugshare app and don’t mind letting you use them as long as you are a customer. I have two work locations that were happy to give me access to their 120v/20a outlets. I’m usually there at least 8 hours and it’s plenty of time to charge to 100% even with 120 volts.

          Other good non-charger spots are campgrounds with NEMA 14-50 outlets. They’re usually listed on plugshare as well and for a fee will let you pick up a charge. For NEMA 14-50 outlets you’ll need a portable charger. I have a portable with a number adapters for different types of outlets.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            120 volt recharging means you will be charging 6-8 hours to get the 50 miles of range to get home – not very convenient when it -20.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @stingray: – not very convenient when it -20.

            Not really a problem since you can run the heat while charging – although that would really slow charging down on a 15 amp outlet. The outlets I know of are at businesses like restaurants where you can go in and order some food and stay warm.

            Ideally, you would use 120v as a rescue to get enough power to make it to a larger charger. Besides, if you are going out in -20 F in any vehicle, you need to plan if you are taking a trip.

            I did use a 120v 15a outlet to recharge to 100% before making the 80-mile return trip home during some recent -5 F temps. However, I arrived with maybe an 80% charge because I had been charging at stops I had been making along the way. I knew the car was going to be parked there for about 26 to 28 hours, so it wasn’t an issue.

            To be perfectly honest, in cold temps I actually feel more confident and secure in my EV. I’ve had more problems with ICE cars in the cold than this thing. For most of my around town driving, I don’t even have to pay attention to the charge level even with the climate controls set to 90 degrees F. Since the heating system isn’t dependent on engine coolant, it gets up to temp very quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      You ever heard of a thing called tow truck?

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Just this week my dad was telling me about his friend, about 30 miles outside of Montreal, who came to my dad’s house to recharge his e-Golf which was running on electron fumes to the point that he knew he wouldn’t be able to make it home. In fact, his wife was freezing by the time they arrived at my parents’ place because they’d turned off the heater in order to eke out a few more Joules. This is a guy who’s into his electric car enough that he waited for something like six months, installed a quick charger in his garage for over a thousand bucks, and paid a premium for a car which looks almost exactly like a mainstream Golf but much slower and with way less range – 125 miles, according to VW. Apparently, Hyundai has identified a problem which actually exists.

  • avatar
    ernest

    I’m just reading through this thread trying to understand why anyone would want one of the blessed things in the first place. At least a Prius wouldn’t make you walk home.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @ernest

      I’ve put about 60k miles on an EV without a problem. That includes some sub-zero temp trips. If you live in a remote area, you might not want an EV, but for many people, they are just fine.

      Funny you should mention the prius walking home thing. Once, I used my daughter’s prius and didn’t realize she didn’t leave enough gas in it to make it to the nearest gas station from my home. About 6 miles. It ran out of gas just a mile short of the station. If it had been the EV, there would have been a full charge and no issues.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        I think you nailed the inconvenience factor right there. We’re not in a remote area (just at the edge of suburbia), but that kind of range means we couldn’t even go to Corvallis for a football game and return on a charge. It costs roughly $120/mo to keep the wife’s Camry in fuel. Even a Prius doesn’t pencil out, let alone an EV. The combination of potential inconvenience and the inability to make sense of the dollars makes this a non-starter in my own mind. Then there’s the potentially explosive scenerio of combining the words “wife” and “stranded” in the same sentence. Speaking for my wife, the first time that happened would also be the last time.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      It wouldn’t make much sense to have a pure electric vehicle as your only car, unless you’re sure you will almost never have to make long trips. But many families have two cars, one of which is the “family car” (well, more likely family CUV or pickup truck these days) and the other which is a commuter car used pretty much only to take the breadwinner to/from work. In these cases, replacing the commuter car with a cheap pure-electric vehicle can make sense, and if someone needs to make a long trip, they just use the (gas/diesel-powered) family car instead.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I’ve heard tales of travelers who were stranded in dead EVs being rescued by Gaia, who pulled up in her Golden Prius of Love and wisked them to safety in an environmentally sound manner.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    I’ve heard tales of travelers who were stranded in dead ICE vehicles being rescued by trumpy – who saved them with a bigly bucket of coal – after splashing those middle-class-losers by running through a YUUGE mud puddle, on the way to Mar-a-Loco yet again for more gol – er, work!

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Ahhh…dreams, and fantasies, and visions of Utopia…die hard.

    The problem here is that too many people, with too much time, led by too many agitators…are emotionally invested in this fantasy of The Perfect Zero-Emissions Car.

    It won’t work. It cannot work as a general transport tool with our power infrastructure, with known technology, with the toxic materials used in these new batteries.

    And the agitators keep on screaming louder and louder, and the politicians keep on dumping more of YOUR money into this fantasy…because reality is just-so inconvenient.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I live in the western suburbs of DC. Plenty of charging stations; they do have an app for that. There’s even chargers at the Organic Food Store, thanks Mom’s. Most EV drivers know how much “juice” they have like most ICE drive know how much gas they have. The arguments about that can go into “Some nuns who took orphans to the mall and missed their bus and needed a ride home” category/anecdotal proof category. I know two Tesla Type S owners; both former Special Forces officers. Accela is the most comfortable way to go from DC to NYC. The bus is chepaer, 20$ each way. I’m waiting for one of the national truck stop chains to install chargers for EV’s. Pull-in, plug-in, go to the bathroom, maybe eat, get some coffee. Oh, I forget most TTAC readers drive non-stop for eight hours without stopping, drink from their thermos and eat two pre-made bologna sandwiches on their journey.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      And I guess everyone should just adjust to EVs: Stopping every 100 miles for at least 45+ minutes to pee and eat something while power trickles into your EV to get you another 100 miles, when you can take another 45 minute pee and eat, etc. That is unless your battery is too hot or too cold to charge properly, or if it cold outside and take 25+% of your range away, so those 100 mile stops become 75 mile stops. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to pay a 25-50% EV price premium for such convenience.

      Yes EVs can work for some people, and many are nice to drive, but they have a long way to go before they are a mass-market product for people who can’t/don’t carefully plan each journey’s recharging logistics.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Max is usually about six hours straight and then stop for gas and bio breaks. Can your EV drive 450 miles (75mph * 6h) and then allow me to eat and fuel up in about 20-25 minutes?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      LOL… I’m guessing everyone commenting here is male and making these long distance drives solo. When my and my wife’s mother were still living, we would make six hour trips home to see them. With my wife and two teenage daughters in tow, we would routinely make two to three stops on the trip (360 miles). Some were just bio breaks, but we usually stopped somewhere and got a meal, too.

      Actually, as I’ve gotten older, I like to stop after an hour or two, even if it’s just for 15 minutes to stretch. I don’t know if one could get an appreciable amount of charge in that time, but in the long run, it doesn’t add that much time to your trip.

      If I were to go “electric”, right now I think I’d go with a Volt. The best (or possibly the worst) of both worlds.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    This is a really clever engineering trick. Modern version of a gas tank siphon.


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