AAA unveils new breed of road-side assistance

AAA worker Allan Stanley recharges a Nissan Leaf at the motor club's headquarters in Los Angeles.
AAA worker Allan Stanley recharges a Nissan Leaf at the motor club's headquarters in Los Angeles. Corey Moore/KPCC

The nation’s largest auto club unveiled a new breed of road-side assistance on Tuesday. Its new road-side assistance truck will recharge electric vehicles that run out of juice. AAA’s planning to introduce the service to Southland members as early as September.

John Nielsen is the director of AAA's Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information. He says the group is launching the pilot program in Los Angeles, and a few other cities, before taking it nationwide.

Nielsen maintains there is already a demand for this kind of service.

"Right now there’s about 4,500 electric vehicles on the road across the country. President Obama came out last week and projected 1.2 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. So where we actually end up, it’s hard to say but we are ready as the market ramps up, we’re ready to ramp up with it," he says.

At the group’s L.A. headquarters, AAA staff demonstrated to a crowd how the roadside charging works. The truck has an onboard lithium-ion battery pack that plugs into a disabled electric vehicle. A 10-minute charge gets the driver back the road for up to 15 miles, hopefully enough to reach a nearby charging station.

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