RAC patrol vans will soon get portable electric car chargers to help vehicles that run out of battery at the roadside.

The system, which was developed by the RAC and partner firm Original Ltd, is designed to give stranded electric vehicles (EVs) a “top up” that allows them to reach the nearest charging point. The “lightweight” EV Boost chargers can take power from a standard Euro 6 diesel patrol van and work with all Type 1 and Type 2 charging connectors. This, the RAC claims, allows the chargers to work with “99 percent of electric vehicles on UK roads today”.

According to the company, the solution is needed because many electric cars cannot be towed normally and should be transported with all wheels off the ground - a process that usually requires a flat-bed vehicle. As a result, electric cars that run out of charge on busy roads, they will often be stranded in the road, causing an obstruction to traffic.

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Initially, just six of the breakdown organisation’s Ford Transit Custom patrol vans will get the technology, with these vehicles being deployed in London, Birmingham and Manchester from June. However, the RAC says the tech will be rolled out into further vehicles as the demand for electric cars increases.

The company’s head of roadside rescue innovation, Chris Millward, said: “Our solution enables our patrols to help stranded EV drivers at the roadside with a power boost, equivalent to a top-up from a fuel can for a petrol or diesel car, to get them on their way again.

RAC EV Boost emergency charging kit

“The number of electric vehicles on the road will grow rapidly in the next few years - we are seeing increased interest and take-up from business and fleet managers in particular - so it is critical that we have an effective mobile power source for these cars in an emergency giving EV-owners complete peace of mind. We also expect it will help address the anxiety some potential EV buyers have about the current charging infrastructure and vehicle range.

“The RAC is constantly looking to evolve and invest in technology to meet the changing needs of drivers and their modern vehicles, and this EV-charger fits perfectly with this strategy.”

Electric car charging

Melanie Shufflebotham, co-founder of EV charging map Zap-Map, said the announcement would give drivers more confidence in taking electric cars on longer trips.

"It's great to see the RAC leading the way and introducing this new mobile EV charging system to its fleet of vans,” she said. “While the UK public charging network already has over 14,000 public charge points and is growing at a rapid rate, this service will give electric car drivers additional confidence as they plan longer electric journeys."

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