Somewhat surprisingly given the early stage of the EV rollout we're in, there are already lots of ways to recharge empty electric vehicles along the side of the road, both official (see choices from AAA, Club Assist and Nation-E) and DIY. At the 2011 AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, CA, this weekend, another option, the EV Mobile Charger from Cross Country Automotive Services was on display and it's got something that would make Hank Hill proud: a propane tank.

Yes, this little trailer would be right at home in Arlen, TX but that's not where the first units will be deployed. Currently, there are two in use in Los Angeles, one in San Diego, one in Phoenix and moree are coming to Portland and Nashville. Astute readers will notice that these cities mimic the roll-out of the Nissan Leaf. When the all-electric Ford Focus hits the stage, the locations where the mobile charger will be used should grow.

When mounted on a trailer or onto the back of a tow truck, the EV Mobile Charger burns propane in a Generac two-stroke engine to generate electricity and then feeds the energy to a car through an Eaton EVSE. This way, the EV Mobile Charger can put a few miles of range into a pack in 15 minutes. Thus, this isn't a DC Fast Charge solution, but it's still useful for both driver and tow truck operators.

The reasons that a roadside charger are better than a tow are many, and fairly easy to figure out. Spending 15 minutes with the car plugged into trailer is more convenient than loading an EV onto a truck, driving to a dealer or a local charge point and waiting around there while the battery fills up. The EV Mobile Charger also has another feature that should get tow truck business operators to take notice: a $9,999 MSRP. Bigger versions of the EV Mobile Charger (to charge four vehicles at once or a complete van conversion that includes a comfortable waiting area with WiFi), are also possible.
Show full PR text
Cross Country Automotive Services Launches Nation's First Electric Vehicle Mobile Charging Roadside Assistance Program

Initial metro markets include Los Angeles; Phoenix; Nashville; Portland; San Diego; San Francisco and Seattle
Service designed to address electrical vehicle range anxiety
Program features environmentally friendly mobile chargers
First electric vehicle charge in conjunction with program completed on August 26 in Phoenix

MEDFORD, MASS, AUGUST 29, 2011 – Cross Country Automotive Services (Cross Country), a leading provider of driver and vehicle assistance services in North America, is introducing the nation's first mobile charging warranty roadside assistance program for electric vehicle owners.

The program offers emergency charging assistance – approximately 5 miles of range for as little as 15 minutes of charge – to drivers whose electric vehicle batteries have been depleted, relieving driver anxiety about being stranded. Services will be provided through specially equipped mobile charging units manufactured to serve the emerging electric vehicle (EV) service market.

The seven initial markets where the program will be available are: Los Angeles; Phoenix; Nashville; Portland; San Diego; San Francisco and Seattle. The first mobile charge within the program was successfully completed on August 26 in Phoenix, taking only 15 minutes to provide driver with an additional 5 miles. Cross Country will be adding additional mobile charging units to other areas throughout its national service provider network across the country.

"Serving as the roadside assistance provider for a number of electric vehicle companies, Cross Country recognizes the need to provide unique solutions that are specific in assisting the emerging number of electric vehicle owners, ensuring they will receive the same high levels of service and peace of mind they've come to expect whenever they were behind the steering wheel," said Dave Ferrick, senior vice president at Cross Country. "As a result, we've developed a program that offers mobile chargers in the largest number of markets of any roadside assistance program in the country. Our green solution relies on propane fuel, which burns cleaner than gasoline and avoids significant weight to the service truck, thereby not impacting the truck's fuel efficiency."

These mobile charges may be mounted on small trailers, and consist of 10 kWh propane-powered generators that efficiently charge the disabled electric vehicles.

Available to both Service Providers and dealerships, the chargers offer the capability to quickly and safely charge multiple vehicles concurrently through a Level 2 charging protocol, delivering consistent utility grade power. In addition, the charger is capable of back-to-back services without the need to recharge any onboard batteries.

For more information, visit

About Cross Country
For nearly 40 years, Cross Country Automotive Services has been a pioneer and thought leader in creating and delivering technology-enabled service solutions for the auto and insurance industries.

Cross Country manages roadside assistance programs in the U.S. on behalf of global automobile manufacturers and U.S. insurance carriers, providing solutions for the nearly 6 million roadside service events experienced by their consumers each year. In addition, Cross Country provides accident scene management, vehicle release management and total loss screening services for insurance carriers, customer care services and connected vehicle services for a number of automotive manufacturers.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      But wait aren't 90% of drivers only within range for these EV cars? So now instead of a $100 tow there will be a $200 Tow truck service fee plus the fee for running the gen for 30 minnuets to give the driver 5-10 more miles. Best cure and fix (I know most of you won't like it but I REALY DO NOT CARE) buy a car that will do the distance to begine with an ICE or a Volt.
      • 3 Years Ago
      a 2-stroke towed by a diesel truck ? even if it is a 4-stroke, it probably doesn not have near the pollution controls of most modern (gas-powered) automobiles if you want to tow an extended-range trailer behind your Leaf; why don't you just pull a trailer full of batteries ?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice article
      • 3 Years Ago
      your article is too good
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dallas May
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wish Nissan would release an "Extended Range" towing package. Imagine being able to tow a 4-cylendar generator that is towed behind the vehicle and connected to the Leaf's Electrical system. That would be perfect.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dallas May
        And there you have it! The correct answer to the time problem of short-range BEVs; If Nissan doesn't do it, look for the hack to be spelled out on The Leaf Forum...Look for someone to build this so you can charge while underway using the trailer. As you only need it for distant travels, perhaps renting it from a central location would be the ticket. It's an idea just waiting to be brought to market.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Rofl. That would be humorous (sorry, Dan's head is exploding) your electric vehicles stops on the highway (on your way to protest big oil) so you call the towing service. Out comes on F-450, with a 2 stroke, belching blue smoke, to charge your environmentally conscious car! Yes yes, some 2 strokes are now very clean, yes, the tow trucks are cleaner as well, yes, this prolly has a 4 stroke, I was just having need for a pile of corrections....
        • 3 Years Ago
        Whoops, this was meant as a reply to spec, below. I was just smiling too hard.
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      15 minutes on a L2 charger only provides about 4% of the pack capacity. Better to have a mobile DC Quick Charger on truck with a diesel generator (running on B99 biodiesel, if I had my druthers). This is the plan for the AAA mobile units.
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      A 2-stroke couldn't run on propane. The propane vapors couldn't carry the necessarry lubricating oil to the bottom end. I know for a fact that the generac home back up systems, which look extremely similar to this unit (hint hint) use 2-CYLINDER 4-stroke propane engines, and burn very clean.
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      15 minutes of L2 will only get around 4% into a LEAF battery pack, and in the bottom end of the pack the discharge is not so linear, so it's doubtful you'll much more than a couple of miles range for your time. Better to fit a truck with a DC Quick charger, or even both L3 and L2 (which is what AAA is pursuing), that way you'll get almost 50% charge for the same 15 minutes.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Michael Walsh
        They may as well just tow you a couple of miles. It would be quicker and AAA wouldnt have to purchase additional equipment.
      • 3 Years Ago
      2 stroke? Really?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I seriously doubt it's 2 stroke. The unit pictured looks exactly like a normal stationary Generac generator that can be fueled with natural gas and easily converted to propane. Generac's 10kW standby unit is a 530cc V-twin which consumes 1.25 gal/hr of propane at half load. They tout the fact that they are OHVI, which would not be necessary for 2 stroke. There is also a typo in the press release: "10kWh propane-powered generators". kWh is a unit of energy like battery capacity, not power. It is 10kW, which even seems overkill when the Leaf's charger can only take 3.3kW. At least they'll be ready for the Focus which will have a faster on-board charger.
    • Load More Comments