Portable Charging Solutions for EVs

Sebastian Blanco | Sep 01, 2022

Running out of power in an electric vehicle (EV) is the equivalent of running out of fuel in a gas-powered car. If it ever happens to you, you should know that there are no nationwide companies that will provide roadside EV charging—not even AAA. Local towing companies may provide this service, but the most common solution for stranded EVs is to tow them to a nearby charging station.

Portable Charging Solutions for EVs

However, there are electrical versions of the well-known red gas container and other solutions to get you moving again. Portable charging solutions do exist today to rescue stalled EVs. To ensure you can take advantage of any of the solutions listed below, keep the charging cord that came with your EV in the vehicle whenever it’s not in use.

Portable Chargers: Handheld, Trucks, and Trailers

A few companies have released portable EV chargers in the past few years.

The SparkCharge Roadie is a modular system that can fast-charge an EV, providing around 35 miles using the smallest, two-stack model. Using the largest version, with four stacks and more battery capacity inside, the Roadie can refill an EV with up to 72 miles of range. The stacks detach from each other, and one person can carry them. The Roadie can charge any modern EV on the road today, but each unit comes with only one of the two primary DC fast-charge standards: CCS or CHAdeMO. You’ll need an adapter to recharge Teslas. SparkCharge does not sell its Roadie units to customers, though. Only to commercial businesses.

Blink has also designed a roadside charging solution called the Blink Mobile Emergency Charger. Blink has a long history with stationary EV charging stations and designed the Mobile Emergency Charger to perform similarly to the Blink IQ 200 charging station. According to Blink, the Mobile Emergency Charger can provide approximately 65 miles of range in an hour. Unlike the battery-powered Roadie, the Mobile Emergency Charger is a gas-powered generator that can produce up to 9.6 kilowatts of power at 240 volts to recharge your immobile car.

FreeWire Technologies sells a mobile power device called the Mobi EV Charger. The Mobi is a box on wheels with an 80-kWh battery inside. FreeWire designed the Mobi more as a temporary EV charging station for use in parking lots. It features two power cords that can charge two EVs simultaneously.

Lightning eMotors is developing a trailer-based portable EV charging solution. This mobile charging unit will contain up to 420 kWh of battery and up to five DC fast-charge ports.

Another option comes from EV charging station company SETEC Power, which has developed an emergency mobile EV charging system that fits in the back of a midsize commercial van. The system uses a built-in 56-kWh battery pack and can provide up to 60 kW of DC power to charge an EV. The company can expand the battery up to 1,000 kWh.

Can AAA Charge an EV?

The American Automobile Association (AAA) used to offer roadside charging from its service trucks as part of a limited trial program. The company installed batteries and charging cords on its trucks and offered up to 15 minutes of charge for its members when they depleted their EV’s battery. At the time, the Association said the quick charge would be sufficient to enable the customer’s vehicle to travel an additional 10 miles or so, depending on the model and charging speed. The Association’s trucks offered both DC fast charging and the slower Level 2 charging speed.

Today, AAA’s policy is to tow a stranded EV to a nearby charging station. The company discovered that electric-vehicle drivers were “very aware” of their remaining range and needed less assistance than drivers of gas cars. Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said in 2016: “Our feeling is that they keep a pretty close eye on it and manage their drive accordingly—much more so than a driver of a gasoline vehicle.”

Towing is also the option that most insurance policies will cover. Automakers from Ford to Tesla also require towing any depleted EVs to a station in their roadside-assistance programs.

Despite how AAA and the insurance companies now handle EVs with dead batteries, it doesn’t mean there are no providers offering roadside EV charging services. Rather than individual car owners, commercial customers are the target audience for the portable solutions listed above. SparkCharge and Blink specifically say roadside-assistance companies could use their chargers if they wanted to offer roadside EV charging.

Summary

The world of roadside EV assistance has evolved along with the vehicles this past decade. Official range estimates for new EVs are higher than ever, but sometimes even the largest battery can run out. While towing to the nearest charging station is the most common solution to running out of battery power on the road, some portable EV chargers are available if you prefer to use them.

Check out our Shopping Guides section if you’d like to learn more about new EVs.

Explore new car previews
2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty Preview
2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty Preview
F-Series Super Duty trucks got what they needed for the 2023 model year. Ford announced a more powerful line of heavy-duty trucks with a load of available new tech, great standard safety features, and unique upfits to make the trucks more appropriate for specific industries.
Read the full review
2023 Honda Pilot Preview
2023 Honda Pilot Preview
The fourth-generation 2023 Honda Pilot is about to go on sale, and Honda substantially upgrades it over the popular third-generation model it replaces. Honda will offer the redesigned 2023 Pilot in Sport, EX-L, TrailSport, Touring, and Elite trim levels in December 2022.
Read the full review
2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel Preview
2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel Preview
Ram used the 2022 State Fair of Texas to show off its new 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel, a beefy off-road truck that retains its work-truck capabilities. It brings hardcore off-road upgrades such as an electronic-locking rear differential and a rear limited-slip differential.
Read the full review
Read all articles


Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2023 Nissan Ariya Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Trucks
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Compact SUVs and Crossovers
New Model Update
New for 2019: Mini
New Car Preview
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC Preview
More related
articles