The Dead Zone: New Roadside Service Sees Electric Hyundais Take One for the Team

Steph Willems
by 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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • El scotto El scotto on Jan 20, 2018

    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.

    • See 4 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jan 21, 2018

      @geozinger - agreed. Travelling with a family means frequent stops. Solo travel, I usually need a bladder break and leg stretch every 3-4 hours.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Jan 21, 2018

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

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.