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Delivering roadside assistance to electric vehicles

If there are no moving parts in an electric vehicle, can it breakdown? Yes, is the answer based on the experiences in other countries that have been early adopters of electric vehicles.

The most common reasons for vehicle breakdowns in cars today are batteries, fuel and tyres. Electric vehicles still have these three things. And while there are less moving parts, some fleet drivers will continue to test the limits of a vehicle’s endurance and drive them until they break.

So while breakdowns will happen, what may change over time is the way emergency roadside assistance is delivered.

Technology and connected vehicles will allow manufacturers and owners to constantly monitor vehicles which will lead to more preventative maintenance which could be provided as roadside assistance before you breakdown.

Some vehicle manufacturers are already upgrading vehicles by plugging them into a computer when they visit a dealer for servicing. While others are downloading upgrades to vehicles through connected networks.

So imagine the future when someone calls you and says, “We’ve been monitoring your car and we think you’re going to get a flat battery tomorrow, we’re sending someone out tonight to replace it so you’re not late to work in the morning.”

Until then, electric vehicles will still need emergency roadside assistance. The batteries aren’t the same as an internal combustion engine, though batteries will still go flat, or fail.

When an EV battery goes flat, it’s like running out of fuel but there’ll be no need for jerry cans. Roadside providers will carry mini EV charge stations to give flat batteries enough range to get drivers to the nearest charge point.

If there’s a battery fault in your electric vehicle, you’ll need a tow truck just like when a mechanical part fails on a non-electric car today.

Tyres are one component that won’t change with electric vehicles. They are round, black and filled with air which can leak out and leave you stuck on the side of the road calling for emergency roadside assistance.

Electric cars are packed with technology including sensors that warn the driver when the tyre pressure is low. Using this prompt, the fleet driver can get the tyres inspected for leaks before a failure occurs, eliminating any future breakdowns.

Accidents are another type of breakdown and electric vehicles need to be treated differently compared to petrol or diesel cars. There is potential for a fire to start at the scene, or a later date. While the risk is low, the way a fire can start is an issue for emergency services.

Electric vehicles don’t burst into flames as fast as a petrol or diesel car. They will smoke and smoulder. Sometimes for hours without any visible signs of a fire. To help first responders, state governments have introduced identification stickers on number plates so they can take the appropriate action depending on the type of powertrain.

Over the next five years, electric vehicles will become more popular with new technologies that may change the main causes of vehicle breakdowns. Until then, remind your fleet drivers to check their batteries in winter, tyres every month, and fuel gauge before starting a trip.

Written by
Marc Sibbald

Marc is a Senior Content Writer at Fleet Auto News and has an extensive background working within the fleet management industry.

We welcome him as a guest blogger to Fleettorque.

Follow Marc on LinkedIn.

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