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Triple-A's mobile charging service helps stranded electric vehicle drivers

Run out of charge on the road? Triple-A can help, and the process is going greener quickly.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Range anxiety is one the biggest barriers to getting more drivers into an electric vehicles (EVs) to start with. It's the fear of running out of charge while on the road in your EV.

Triple-A wants to ease that stress by offering mobile vehicle charging as part of their roadside assistance plan.  

"Portland and Bend are two of only 14 cities nationwide that currently offer this service," said Marie Dodds with Triple-A.

In the months ahead, four more markets are joining that exclusive list: Eugene-Springfield, Salem-Corvallis, Ashland-Medford and Boise, Idaho.

"We’re looking at keeping our members on the go, no matter what kind of vehicle they use," Dodds said.

For nearly a century, Triple-A has been helping stranded U.S drivers with emergency roadside assistance, from a tow, to a repair shop, to a few gallons of gas. In 2011, they added mobile charging to their list of services. 

"We learned a lot through that program …and so this is the new iteration of our mobile charging service," Dodds said, standing in front of Triple A's new Ford F-250 mobile charging truck.

Credit: Triple-A Oregon/Idaho

"The unit is kind of a smart generator and it cycles through different colored lights. We wait for it to turn bright green and then your vehicle is ready to plug in. Once we plug it in and it’s pulling charge, the generator will display blue and then we charge your vehicle for 30 minutes," said Triple-A responder Cody Bentley. "It depends on the EV, but that should give you enough to get you home, to a charging station … somewhere to avoid a tow."

Right now, the set up uses a gas-powered generator on board a gas-powered truck. 

"We consider this a safety issue. We're getting about one to four calls per month," Dodds said. 

Avoiding a tow means less overall carbon emission for the service.

Oregon expects a five fold increase in EVs on the road over the next few years, likely increasing the need emergency mobile charging.

Supply chain issues have slowed the rollout, but Triple-A expects to have the all-electric Ford F-150 lightning in its fleet early this year. 

Next year, they’ll ditch the gas powered generators and use portable battery backs for a zero-emission roadside charge.

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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