Roadside Assistance Considerations for Electric Vehicles

Roadside Assistance – Implications for Electric Vehicles

During July 2023, there is no doubt that Electric Vehicles (EVs) are being adopted at a rapid rate for their green credentials and decrease in the total cost of ownership (factoring in energy consumption and maintenance). Highlights include:

  • China is likely to hit 80% EV market share by 2025. The Chinese are on track to sell 21.5million EVs per annum
  • Europe is banning petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035
  • Volvo Australia sells more than 50% new vehicles as EVs currently and will only sell EVs by 2026
  • The UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030
  • New car sales in Australia saw 9% EVs sold in June
  • The Federal Government now has a framework for EVs and will soon legislate to limit tailpipe emissions from petrol and diesel cars. This will mean that OEMs will have to increase their percentage of EVs imported and sold

EV Charging capability

Government and private sector destination fast charging is certainly required and welcomed to give holiday makers and tow truck operators more volume of options across the country when an EV is stranded due to lack of charging. There’s a need to decrease the distance to a charging point from all locations by adding more frequent, reliable EV chargers.

The world’s longest EV charging superhighway was recently touted by the Queensland Government. WA has joined the party with over 6,600 kilometres covered by 98 chargers in 49 locations from Kununurra in the North and Esperance in the South. Destination roadside fast chargers in countries like Norway can be unreliable, broken and out of action (where 80%+ of new cars sold are EVs). The lack of genuine infrastructure investment and consistency for public use is one point against EVs currently and pushes owners to sort home charging in their garage, outside or in the basement of their unit block carpark.

Tesla’s network is far and away the most reliable destination public charging setup, in line with numerous surveys. Their charging for EVs is so well planned that Ford, GM, Polestar, Mercedes and others have requested access to half of their North American sites (12,000 locations).

EV Charging options

At home charging represents the majority of sessions, charging duration and kilometres added in the market. B2C owners of 1-2 EVs like to charge at home, often linking their rooftop solar panels to a solid state home battery and charging unit to receive a full charge and 300-600kms of driving range for around $15 worth of electricity.

Portable charging options are now dropping in price as the technology adoption curve improves rapidly. The units require power from a mobile van or tow truck operator with some companies even trialling a huge towable diesel generator for this purpose. The more sustainable options are roughly the size of a suitcase with similar wheels for mobility from the van to the stranded vehicle. These units are designed to add 10-50kms per hour, allowing the customer to limp back home or to a destination charger with their EV.

Running out of charge is the equivalent to driving without enough diesel or unleaded petrol, despite having the distance to empty gauge in your view for each trip. Modern EVs have accurate mileage estimates from in-car computers within the vehicle so the risk of human error is minimized as much as possible. A small roadside benefit could be possible, depending on your provider’s coverage and your policy. This service could be offered via portable charge or towing as a bonus to help customers out of a situation of their own making or it could be charged in full due to the customer’s poor planning for their vehicle and trip distance. However, the onus is on the vehicle owner to operate their car correctly and act with common sense. Most EV owners realise that if they run out of range there is a big inconvenience in their near future and they are likely to require a tow that they will pay for.

Range anxiety is so well written about and understood. Another key factor in the decision to purchase an EV, known by the owner beforehand.

As the appetite for more affordable motoring with a lower impact on the environment is better understood and adopted, EV share of the car park will continue to rise. Education on the change from stopping for 5 minutes at a petrol station, towards destination charging for an hour or topping up your vehicle at home overnight is the key for drivers to avoid embarrassing, expensive and time consuming roadside cases for EVs. This space is particularly relevant at this time and could evolve as quickly as the in-car software is being written.