Electric vehicles without power should not be towed to charge points

Posted: May 17, 2019 by oldbrew in News, Travel

Towing is not suitable for EVs

All wheels should ideally be off the ground when moving EVs from point to point. But now a diesel rescue van can generate enough of a boost charge to enable stranded drivers to get to the nearest charge point in their own EV – in parts of the UK at least.

In readiness for the UK’s expected electric vehicle boom, the RAC has developed its EV Boost system – the first lightweight mobile EV-charger capable of giving stranded out-of-charge cars a power boost from one of its standard orange roadside rescue vans, says NextGreenCar.

The bespoke solution can be rolled-out to hundreds of patrol vehicles ensuring the RAC can match the scale of demand as electric vehicle ownership grows in the coming years.

The first six Ford Transit Custom patrol vans equipped with the new EV generators will take to the roads in June in London, Birmingham and Manchester and will be rolled-out to areas with high call-outs.

The charger, which was developed by the RAC’s technical experts in partnership with automotive engineering firm Original Ltd, is capable of delivering a ‘top-up’ roadside charge from a standard Euro 6 diesel RAC patrol van sufficient to get a stranded EV safely to a nearby charge point.

The RAC EV Boost charger works with all Type 1 and Type 2 connections ensuring it will charge 99% of electric vehicles on UK roads today.

EVs present a particular challenge as many cannot be towed normally and ideally should be transported with all wheels off the ground which usually requires a flat-bed vehicle. So, if an electric car runs out of charge in a busy urban location, such as a red route in London or even just a narrow road, it can’t be towed to the nearest charge point – and is likely to cause traffic jams and frustration — [and penalties for the driver].

RAC 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.

“With nothing like it on the market the real challenge was to develop a mobile EV-charger system which is compact and light enough to fit into our normal patrol vehicles without compromising on space so we can still carry all the normal parts and tools to help our patrols continue to fix four out of five vehicles at the roadside.

“Other solutions that are available require valuable van space to be taken up by heavy portable chargers that negatively affect fuel economy and also need to be recharged after use. Our on-demand solution means that the power is always available when needed.

“The number of electric vehicles on the road will grow rapidly in the next few years, in particular we are seeing increased interest and take-up from business and fleet managers, 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. The new mobile RAC EV Boost charger has also been well received by our manufacturer partners.

“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.”

Full report here.

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    Somehow I have missed the point of all this. All the hype and political wishful thinking is how wonderful electric cars are, and how the range problem has already been solved, yet here the RAC is planning for mass stoppages of electric cars in traffic.
    Would that those in favour of electrics also plan ahead, with first of all
    How to generate enough electricity to recharge even a quarter of the current fleet being converted.
    How to supply that electricity to people who don’t have off street parking with 3 phase supply.
    How to get rid of those idiots who sprout rubbish such using them as backup generation (while doing everything possible to reduce supply to charge them in the first place).

  2. ivan says:


    The problem is that those in favour of electric cars are not engineers and consider what the engineers tell them as being irrelevant. In their eyes all your points are covered by liberal use of pixie dust and unicorn farts.

    It appears that anyone contemplating long journeys in an electric car would be advised to invest in an hybrid model and use it on fossil fuels because there won’t be enough electricity produced by the unreliables to charge it (wind is producing 2.98GW for a demand of 25.21GW at 23:40 on 17/05/2018). Without nuclear and CCGT the country would be at a crashing halt – not a good ad for the unreliables.

    I assume the reason that electric cars shouldn’t be towed is that the electric motor is always connected to the back wheels and if it is driven round it becomes a generator and the reverse voltages produced can kill the control electronics if there is no voltage to activate the regenerative breaking system. What they need is a electro magnetic clutch that disengages the motor when the electronics shuts down at low voltage.

  3. In Australia towing a car in that way is not allowed. It has to be put on the back of a truck or on a properly designed trailer. There is also a law about towing vehicles. The weight of the vehicle must I think be 1.5 times the gross weight of the trailer.
    Agree with you Roger. Another way is to charge double the registration of electric only vehicles compared cars which can be topped up with fuel because when an electric vehicle runs out of charge they will cause problems and congestion on the roads. .

  4. oldbrew says:

    One of these should appear on the EV dashboard if power is getting low.

    Ignoring it could be expensive…

    DON’T BE A FUEL You could be charged with careless driving and fined £5,000 for letting your car run out of fuel

    Even if you think you know your car back to front, gambling when the fuel light comes on just isn’t worth the risk
    25th March 2019

    Causing an obstruction with a car that’s out of fuel falls under the careless and inconsiderate driving penalty.

    If you are forced to stop in the road and police spot you, they can slap you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

    But in serious cases – where you have caused an accident, for example – you could be taken to court and given a much more severe penalty.


  5. Phoenix44 says:

    Ah the joys of moving from a brilliantly efficient, cheap and simple system to a much more complex, costly and inefficient one. All to prevent something that either we cannot prevent or doesn’t exist.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    The UK is really turned into a draconian Police State, havn’t they? Collecting face images (fine of 95 pounds if you cover your face) at random, fines if you run out of gas, can’t use your car in London, etc. etc.

    At one time I’d mused about taking Mum’s passport to the Embasy and applying for UK Citizenship (which I can legally do). Now not so much….

    I would expect the car to shut down long before zero charge is reached (otherwise battery damage results). It ought to be possible to have a “roll charging” mode where the residual charge is just used to power the controller and any windings needed to cause generation, then towing becomes charging. It would be a very useful emergency mode to have.

  7. Andrew Brett says:

    I drive an electric car without issue, they are light years ahead of internal combustion engined vehicles. I commute daily 96 miles. I collected my car 320 miles from home, so getting home with it was, I thought, a challenge, but no, was easy, two 35 minute charges and home with 25 miles to spare. Accept that diesel and petrol cars are bad for local pollution!!!!

  8. Steve Clark says:

    This is *all* they’ll be doing in future; there’s just so little to go wrong in an EV that they won’t be needed for anything else.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Andrew Brett says: May 18, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    That’s fine apart from the taxpayer subsidy, as long as no-one thinks it has anything to do with the climate.

  10. Patrick healy says:

    An interesting point about the UK s major oil company (of which I know many things!) Called bp, is that it owns an outfit called Chargemaster – and intends to install chargers in all its 1200 petrol stations eventually. BP has invested in something called Free Wire – a mobile EV charging company.
    This, together with its ambitions to turn itself into the greenest watermelon company in the world, with its owning solar companies and using one of its chemical plants in Hull to turn food into electricity, proves that the world truly is going to hell on a handcart.

  11. dscott says:

    EVs present a particular challenge as many cannot be towed normally and ideally should be transported with all wheels off the ground which usually requires a flat-bed vehicle.

    Wait, what? So not only is the price of car insurance double the normal amount, a major derate on battery performance in subfreezing temps, you can’t tow it? That’s 3 pieces of important information left out of the sales pitch for electric cars. In the US it is not unusual to see a flatbed instead of a traditional tow truck.

    One would have thought that slightly depressing the regenerative brakes to allow a slow roll down a hill or even a tow would charge the batteries without doing damage to the electronics. That’s a major oversight in design. I wonder if Tesla models have the same problem?

  12. oldbrew says:

    Is the expensive insurance due to increased fire risk?

  13. dscott says:

    This an old article from 2015

    Why Car Insurance Costs More for Electric Vehicles


    “One big reason for the extra cost is that the electric cars are worth more. The base prices of the electric vehicles we studied averaged 70% more than those for their gas siblings (excluding the Smart For two, whose electric version is available only for lease). The more a car is worth, the more an insurance company has to pay if it’s totaled or stolen.

    And although electric cars require less service than their gas counterparts, it can cost more to repair them after an accident because of their expensive battery systems and the need to use specially trained mechanics.”

    Which is probably why Musk is trying to start up an insurance company division to specifically cover his vehicles.

    An insurance aggregator, Zebra echos this issue of repairs on EVs and also hybrids. https://www.thezebra.com/auto-insurance/insurance-rates-hybrid-electric-cars/

    Neither says the rates are double though.

  14. Ve2 says:

    Get serious dscott, who is gong to steal one.

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