Tesla owners charged up over RAC roadside assistance service for stranded EVs

The RAC rolled out its first electric roadside assistance van in Perth this week complete with a mobile charger that can top up a stranded EV with 15km of range in about 20 minutes, enabling the driver to get to the nearest charging facility in the metropolitan area.

Peter Petrovsky, commercial relations spokesman for the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia, has some reservations about the initiative.

Olga de Moeller

Contrary to some of the nonsense on social media, the RAC EV mobile charger uses a battery rather than a diesel generator — but even if it did use a diesel genset, so what? Even if an EV needed rescuing with a diesel generator every single week, it’s still better for our air and the environment than a traditional petrol car.

I love the RAC, they’re a great organisation and it’s good they are thinking this way. I just wish they’d consulted the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia (TOCWA) first because I wonder whether it may be a case of a solution looking for a problem.

An EV is not like an internal combustion engine car; it’s actually a lot harder to run out of charge in an EV. Not only is the instrumentation much more accurate than a petrol gauge and not only does it scream and yell at you before you’re at risk of running out of electrons, but like most EV owners, I wake up every morning with at least 10 days of driving so it’s near impossible to run of out of charge in the city.

I’ve also driven the shortest range car that Tesla makes — all 13,600km around Australia and I was using the battery virtually 24/7 for 17 days straight because I was either driving, charging, watching YouTube and Netflix or using the climate control while camping in the car every night. Not only did I not run out of charge, but the battery didn’t skip a beat.

I also now own five Teslas and rent them out. None of my renters, some of whom have driven the cars to Esperance, Geraldton, and so on, have ever run out of charge, either. Also, the TOCWA is approaching 5000 members on its private Facebook page and I don’t think there’s anyone there who’s run out of charge as yet.

The fact is when you run out of petrol, your only option is a service station but, in an emergency situation, an EV can charge at any petrol station, even off-grid ones. You can also pull over at any business or house because wherever you can plug in a hair dryer, you can charge an EV. That said, Synergy and Horizon Power have installed more than half of the WA EV network DC chargers which, in a couple of months, will cover most of the State at approximately 200km average intervals. Therefore, I wonder how much use the mobile RAC charger will get, especially in the metropolitan area it seems designed for.

I just don’t want it to cause more harm than good, especially if it’s advertised to non-EV drivers, for whom it may only reaffirm their misguided preconceived beliefs that EVs are not feasible in a city like Perth or a state like WA.

Pete Petrovsky, TOCWA



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