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Startup idea: Electric "tow truck"? Would you pay for that?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by drodio, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. drodio

    drodio New Member

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    I'm a startup guy in silicon valley and I've always wondered about this, so I figured I'd go to the source and ask Tesla owners:

    If you run out of charge on the side of the road, how much would you pay to have an "electric tow truck" show up, that was basically a Supercharger on wheels and could provide you some charge, for some amount of money?

    Specifically, I'm wondering:

    - How much minimum range would it have to provide you to be worth it?
    - How much would you pay?
    - How fast would it need to charge your car?
    - How long would you be willing to wait for it to arrive?

    Seems like a totally do-able idea from a technical perspective. Mostly just wondering why I've never seen anyone do it yet.
     
  2. constraint

    constraint Member

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    Honest opinion is that if there is a high enough density of EV's in a given area, there is also a fairly high density of L3 charging stations. It would almost just be as easy to tow the car to one of those charging stations.

    Somewhere like Minnesota where I am from, charging stations are almost non existent and would benefit from a service, but not sure how many calls you would get.
     
  3. csshih

    csshih whirrrr

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  4. brantse

    brantse Member

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    I don't think you'd need anything near 150 kW for this to make sense. This wouldn't be a "normal" situation, so if stranded, you'd be happy if you could even charge at level 2 speeds. Not sure if they all do, but I know our local Ranger has something like a 5-6 kW portable generator in his van. He said, fortunately he's never had to use it, but I'm sure that's what it's there for.
     
  5. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    In my many many years of driving, I've never run out of fuel and for the last 3 years that I've been driving EVs I've never run out of a charge. while there is a place for a service like this IMHO it wouldn't work as a stand alone service, it would work as an adjunct to a AAA type road service but I just don't see a stand alone mobile charger as being a profitable business.
     
  6. mikeash

    mikeash Active Member

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    AAA offers emergency charging in some places. It's hard to find details, but it looks like they provide L2 and CHAdeMO and charge up to 60MPH.

    Answering the questions, minimum range would be whatever it takes to get me to a "real" charger. That could be anywhere from just a couple of miles to hundreds of miles depending on where exactly this happened. Cost would have to be cheaper than towing my car to the nearest charger, by a decent margin. Charging speed depends on how far the nearest charger is. If it's a few miles away, then typical L2 charging rates of 20-30MPH would be fine. If the nearest charger is a hundred miles down the road, I'd want top-of-the-line CHAdeMO speeds (150MPH) at least. How long would I be willing to wait, well, if I'm stuck on the side of the road I don't exactly get to be picky there. But if a tow truck can get there significantly faster, that option is going to win.

    I agree with the others that this is not likely to be all that useful. Running out of charge is pretty tough to do. The car displays the current remaining range pretty obviously, and it will start to complain at you if it looks like you're going to drive beyond the range of known charging locations. If it doesn't look like you're going to make your destination, you can slow down to regain efficiency. On long trips we're usually headed to a Supercharger for the next charge, but in a pinch we can use an L2 charging station or even a regular 120V outlet if it turns out that we're not going to make it, and there are tons of those almost everywhere. You have to really work at it to strand yourself.

    A mobile charging truck is only useful for stranded EVs and won't see much use. A normal tow truck is useful for many things, including stranded EVs. I think that's why you haven't seen many mobile charging trucks.
     
  7. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    Parade has officially been rained-on.
     
  8. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    By the way, I have never seen an EV stranded on the side of the road yet. As someone said earlier, it's quite difficult to get stranded.
     
  9. AndreSF

    AndreSF Member

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    Pretty far fetched idea IMO... Even if there is market for such tow truck, it's easier to buy a portable generator for a couple of grand to provide such service. Don't think it's feasible to actually provide portable generator with output even close to Supercharger...so, stranded EV could be sitting on the side of the road charging relatively slowly from portable generator or a flat bed truck could just tow EV to nearest fast charging area (I would go for option 2 personally).
     
  10. csshih

    csshih whirrrr

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    Fair, but since the tow truck driver's time is valuable, I would not want them waiting any longer than an hour or so.. thus faster charging the better! :)

    But yeah, rained on :(
     
  11. StaceyS

    StaceyS Member

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    I think it would be pretty easy to set up, and I'm actually sort of surprised that Tesla hasn't considered this option yet:

    You don't need a generator, all you need is a stack of Model S packs all wired together. Here's the theory:

    If you have an empty rechargable battery, and you connect a fully charged battery, the stronger battery will charge the weaker until you end up with 2 half-charged batteries.

    So, the idea is that you get a stack of Model S packs, stick them on the back of a flatbed, add some charge control electro-jumble and bob's yer uncle. Should give enough of a jolt to get the stranded Model S to somewhere chargable...
     
  12. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    #12 calisnow, Mar 16, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
    What's a startup guy? Is it like a Standup guy?

    Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 6.40.04 PM.png

    Or this guy?

    Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 6.42.38 PM.png

    No wait, I know - you're this guy:

    Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 6.46.56 PM.png
     
  13. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Wait what? I just realized that the OP says he is not just any startup guy - he's a startup guy "...in Silicon Valley." Let's not be so quick to dismiss his plan - he may have some vision we just can't see.
     

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