NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A pilot program from AAA – The Auto Club Group is bringing electric vehicle owners more roadside assistance options.
According to AAA Spokesperson Megan Cooper, AAA is currently operating a mobile EV charging pilot program in select cities across the country, including Nashville.
“What we know is that range anxiety is one of top barriers for people in making that decision to make the switch to electric vehicles. Because of that, we are introducing these pilot programs to see how we can better help our members that drive electric vehicles,” she said. “Through this program we are providing them a boost if they run out of charge at the roadside and really just trying to figure out what the best and quickest way to get those electric vehicles back up and running when they do run into issues on the roadside.”
As electric vehicles are growing in popularity, the needs of EV owners are also growing, including emergency roadside assistance, Cooper said.
“We know that our AAA members are interested in electric vehicles, and this is just one of those ways that we are really connecting with members and the type of vehicle that they’re driving,” she said. “We want to be able to serve all of our members, whether they’re driving a regular gas-powered car or an electric vehicle.”
Nashville is “one of those cities that is growing pretty rapidly,” according to Cooper, as are the number of electric vehicles driving in the city. Because of that, Nashville was one of the locations that AAA felt fit for the pilot program.
“It’s a good place for us to see how to serve our members,” Cooper said.
Having the mobile charging unit will allow AAA members more comfort when dealing with the range anxiety that comes with operating an EV, she added.
“The benefit of this mobile charging unit is easing some of that range anxiety, as a AAA member, knowing that if something happens, if you run out of charge on the roadside, that we’ll be there to help you and assist you.”
So far, the use is “limited,” but as EVs grow in popularity, Cooper said the program would be more likely to be utilized, giving the group more data to see how beneficial and useful the option is for EV drivers.
“We realize that more and more people are becoming interested in electric vehicles, and with advancements in technology and more and more manufacturers announcing that they’re going to offer electric options, that’s something that AAA is really keeping an eye on. We’ve done a number of research surveys on this. We recently released our used EV Buyer’s Guide, which includes tips and some considerations if you’re looking to get into a used electric vehicle, which are becoming a more viable option. As we go into the future, this is a topic that is going to continuously be looked at by AAA.”
The Nashville AAA office only has one Blink mobile charging unit currently. According to Technician Eric Sutor, the Blink charges all electric vehicles, including Teslas, Chevrolet Volts and others. The Blink unit comes with a standard charging cable, but any model-specific adapter will have to be used by the vehicle owner.
If the mobile charging unit is called, Sutor said a technician will meet the member where they are, start up the blink charging station, plug into the EV and charge them for 10 to 15 minutes. Each emergency charge will give EV drivers anywhere from a half-mile to mile-per-minute, which will get them either to the next charging station or to their home.
Like any other roadside assistance benefit offered by AAA, all EV members need to do to access the mobile charging unit is reach out for the assist.