What happens if an electric car runs out of battery charge?

Running your electric car battery flat is something to be avoided. The inconvenience will be significant – and may affect the long-term health of the battery.

There will be no friendly good Samaritan with a can of volts to pour into the tank. Or indeed to give you a quick jump-start. The cruel likelihood is your electric car will have to be loaded onto a trailer and towed to a charging point.

You’ll then have another long wait before the batteries have charged sufficiently to continue your journey.

How likely are you to run out of charge?

The chances should be slim. The battery gauge will give you plenty of warning, and your satellite navigation or Zap Map will point you to the nearest charging point when you need it.

The majority of electric cars also have an inbuilt de-powering system. If the electronics detect you are close to running flat, the power available to drive the car will be decreased and the speed limited. This should give you the best possible chance of reaching a charging point.

Can I tow an electric car?

Not in the old-fashioned sense, with a rope or bar behind another vehicle. You need to refer to the specific instructions for each car; most need to be loaded onto a flatbed trailer, but some can be towed on a ‘dolly’ where the front wheels are raised and the rears remain on the road.

How are breakdown companies responding?

RAC patrol van with EV Boost

Some breakdown recovery companies are already innovating in response to the growth of electric cars. Hundreds of RAC patrol vans have already been fitted with a lightweight electric car chargers to help motorists reach the next charge point.

It’s called RAC EV Boost and has been developed in-house by the orange-branded company. It works from a second alternator fitted to the engine. It is currently a 3.5kW device, but there’s already work underway to boost this to 7kW.

It doesn’t require vans to lug around heavy batteries, either. Power is generated from running the van’s engine long enough for the motorists to reach the next available EV charger. This could take as little as 10 minutes by the roadside.

Vans carrying it carry EV Boost branding and a bright green logo. This alone, hopes the firm, might play a part in helping motorists overcome range anxiety, by knowing help is at hand in an emergency.

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