AAA Goes Electric


The American Automobile Association, or the AAA, has announced the operation of the first roadside assistance service able to assist hybrids and electric car vehicle users. The new trucks providing the Triple A service would be able to recharge batteries for electric vehicles.

Each vehicle would be able to provide about ten to fifteen minutes of charge time for vehicles with discharged batteries. With this emergency charge, the vehicle would be able to drive to up to fifteen miles to a charging station to be able to complete the charging of the electric vehicle.

The mobile charges would be at Level 2 (240 volts) or Level 3 (480 volts) chargers, making them able to charge batteries at a faster rate than a normal household outlet.

AAA said that the initial deployment of these service trucks with charging capabilities would be in six major areas such as Portland in Oregon, Seattle in Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, Knoxville in Tennessee and Tampa Bay in Florida.

The charging system was built by Green Charge Networks. The system has a lithium ion battery pack that can be removed for mobile charging. Further models are designed to house generators that are powered by alternative fuels and other sources. The charging levels for the electric cars are as follows:

  • A Level 1 charging station is the normal 120-volt outlet in a normal home. A full charge for a normal battery pack for an electric vehicle takes twenty hours.
  • A Level 2 charging station would have a 240-volt alternating current outlet. The normal time for a normal battery pack for an electric vehicle would take six hours.
  • A Level 3 charging station is a direct current charging allowing up to 500 volts direct current. The normal time for a normal battery pack for an electric vehicle would take only thirty (30) minutes.

The announcement was made during the Plug-In 2011 Conference and Exposition. AAA provides its 52 million strong membership with travel, insurance, financial as well as automotive related services.

Partnerships Formed for Electric Car Charging Developments


In the near future, your laptop can manage your entire electric car charging requirements. Cisco, the technology goliath, has made its presence into the market by partnering with ECOtality, a San Francisco based charging company.

The development would be on ECOtality’s Blink electric charger. The partnership would create a linkage between the battery charging times using Cisco’s Home Energy Controller System.

The charger would send a message wirelessly to the car owner’s home computer for data on charging, where the user can set up parameters for the electric car’s charging. This would help in preventing overusing the home’s electric grid during peak hours, often in the mornings and the early afternoons. Many utility companies are advising EV owners to charge their car’s batteries during the evening when energy demand is lower and off peak rates for electricity are in effect.

This would be helpful in neighborhoods that have several residents owning electric vehicles. Electric vehicles use the equivalent of one home’s electricity demand when charging. Thus, charging electric vehicles during peak hours can place overwhelming demand on a community’s electric grid.

“The Blink interface communicates directly with utilities to determine off-peak and low-cost charging times, and allows consumers to maximize energy usage and reduce costs,” said ECOtality chief executive Jonathan Read.

He added that the partnership with Cisco would provide solutions for consumers to utilize renewable energy using efficient technologies supporting smart grid deployment. It is also working with Sprint for the wireless connectivity to its Blink station.

This is only part of ECOtality’s $230 million project for electric vehicles, which would include installation of 15,000 public and private electric car chargers. This program is supported in party by the US Department of Energy.

Other companies have entered into similar partnerships. General Electric had teamed up with Juice Technology on home energy management systems on their car charging stations. Better Place, a battery swapping station has a partnership with the home technology giant, GE. Silver Spring Networks is currently working with ClipperCreek for the same kind of systems. Siemens has Coulomb Technologies on its wing to offer Siemens’ smart grid technology packaged with Coulomb’s charging station package.