EV owners in Sydney and Canberra offered the NRMA mobile charging solution, but if you miss out, you’d better be close to home.
Sydney and Canberra electric car owners will soon have a lifeline – courtesy of roadside assistance provider NRMA – if they run out of battery power.
However, e-car drivers are well advised to get out near their home or place of work, because for the time being only two patrol cars will be equipped with the booster technology.
The service will be integrated into the network’s existing roadside assistance program and will initially only apply to NRMA members.
Two NRMA squad cars have been specially fitted with 4.8kWh lithium-ion battery packs, which the NRMA says will provide a one-kilometer charge every two minutes. After a 10-minute charge, an electric vehicle gets about three miles of range to hobble home or to the nearest charging station.
The new service will be included as part of the company’s regular roadside assistance product at no additional cost over petrol and diesel members. An NRMA membership also gives access to a network of over 50 fast charging stations.
NRMA roadside assistance Tim Bryant has been specially trained to take care of EV drivers who have run out of charge.
“We see that more and more (electric car) drivers are asking us for help, so it is clear that the need for this type of support is increasing,” Bryant said in a media statement.
“NRMA patrols are now trained to service both internal combustion engines and electric vehicles. The new mobile (electric car) chargers being introduced in our patrol cars mean we will be able to get more cars back on the road faster. ”
This latest service is part of NRMA’s broader electric vehicle strategy to support a national transition to electric vehicles. This strategy follows partnership with state and state governments to build and manage a fast charging network covering key tourism and transport corridors in New South Wales.
While some may be surprised at the relatively small battery capacity – which offers a charge at a comparable rate to a regular outlet – the service is equivalent to roadside assistance, delivering a few liters of extra fuel for ICE vehicles to get to the nearest gas station. With such a low charging capacity and the sparse number of electric car chargers in Australia, a standard flatbed tow truck may provide a more appropriate service.
NRMA is not the only provider of this emergency charging solution. Local BYD distributor EVDirect is planning a similar mobile charging service called EV2U, which will charge all electric vehicles in an emergency. It is scheduled to launch in March 2023. Similarly, RACV has funded start-ups Start anew which uses a DC fast charging system.
It is not the first time that NRMA itself has offered such a service. More than 10 years ago, the company introduced a dedicated electric car escort vehicle and equipped a Mitsubishi i-MiEV with a portable electric car charger for those in urgent need of extra vehicle charging. However, this latest initiative is a much broader application of the concept and plays into the company’s broader EV adoption strategy.
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