Combatting EV Range Anxiety with Roadside Assistance
Calm Down, We've Got Your Back
Nissan is really determined to become a leader in electric cars. They have a pretty aggressive release schedule for the LEAF, they successfully requested a $1.4B loan from the U.S. DOE, they're working with Hertz to have LEAF rentals, and they're already planning to double the LEAF's range for 2015. Another thing they're working on is reassuring potential customers that they won't be left stranded if they run out of juice far from an electrical socket (this fear is commonly referred to as "range anxiety").Part of the solution to that problem is to make it very easy to notice that you're out of range of a charging station; the LEAF's onboard computer will be "smart" enough to tell you when you are getting dangerously far from a charging point, and will help you find stations and plan your trips accordingly.
But if that fails and you still end up on the side of the road with an empty battery, Nissan claims that it will provide roadside assistance, and Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning, says that expects that roadside assistance companies such as AAA will put rapid-charging units on their trucks (possibly powered by the truck's engine, or by a generator -- probably not batteries at first, since that would be heavier and more expensive).
Probably Not As Bad a Problem as People Expect
Of course, that would be a last recourse and shouldn't happen too often if everything goes as planned. After all, most electric cars will be recharged every night and will be driven with a full battery most of the time, and the onboard computer will give real-time information about remaining range. Not to mention that the people buying an EV won't be people with extremely long commutes, or people that frequently take long trip and don't have a second vehicle.
Running out of juice should be a rare occurrence (it will probably happen more often than with gasoline cars, but since EVs are mechanically simpler, maybe other kinds of mechanical problems will be rarer once the technology has matured a bit).
Via Boston.com, ABG
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