Emergency battery: Nashville one of 16 pilot cities for AAA mobile EV charging

Posted at 12:56 PM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 13:56:49-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Electric vehicles don't have the same maintenance needs as their gas-powered counterparts. With more electric vehicles hitting the road, it begs the question: what happens when a driver needs help?

Sales of electric vehicles shot up 62% in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2021, according to electric vehicle database That jives with the 60% uptick in electric vehicle registrations in the first quarter of the year, reported by Automotive News.

This year, AAA Tennessee launched a pilot program geared toward helping stranded electric vehicle drivers. Nashville is one of 16 cities where a version of the program has launched to gauge demand for mobile charging technology.

"You call for AAA service as a member and one of those light service trucks is dispatched to you," explained AAA Tennessee spokesperson Stephanie Milani. "Similar to what we do for our gasoline vehicles, we will provide enough charge to either get you home or to get you to a nearby charging station."

Locally, they equipped one of their trucks with a Blink Charger, which can give a stranded driver a mile's worth of charge per minute.

AAA hopes the tech, which can be mobilized 24/7, helps not only with emergencies but with overall "range anxiety" related to electric vehicles. That's fear of the battery running down before the car makes it home or to another charger.

"This technology helps alleviate that stress and as more people adopt EVs, more charging stations will pop up," Milani said, "but you kind of need that little extra help to not feel stranded, and that’s where AAA’s pilot program steps in."

Milani says the auto club doesn't yet have the numbers to determine how much demand there's been for the program which launched earlier this year.

Despite increasing sales, overall electric vehicle numbers are still low, with less than 20,000 fully electric vehicles registered in Tennessee in 2021, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation's deployment plan for the Tennessee Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program.

With dozens of new, electric models on production lines, the federal government has pledged $88 million from the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to help TDOT build a fast-charge network across the state. Interstates including Interstates 24, 40 and 65 will have a fast charging station located at least every 50 miles.