AAA Starts Juicing Up Electric Cars

If you are one of the few U.S. customers who has already bought into the latest fuel-saving technology of the all-electric plug-in car, you will soon see new options for AAA assistance. The Automobile Association of America announced Monday that it plans to deploy a few new trucks in select areas of the country to power up electric cars that are “depleted” on the road.

Although U.S. purchases of plug-in cars are not perhaps as prolific as they could be, a variety of car makers have been aggressive in rolling out all-electric models for market in 2011 and 2012. GM has been hyping the Chevy Volt for months now, and Ford has gotten into the mix with its own all-electric car. Other models, like the Nissan Leaf, represent choices from foreign car makers for the North American electric car audience which industry analysts expect to grow as this new kind of infrastructure appears on American roads.

The first cities to see AAA electric car assistance will be Portland and Seattle in the Northwest, San Francisco and L.A. in the Southwest, and Tampa Bay in Florida, as well as Knoxville, Tennessee. East Coasters above the Mason-Dixon line will have to wait until program extensions happen in the fall to get AAA assistance for their vehicles. This move by AAA reflects places where electric cars are already common, and other areas where charging stations still haven’t appeared in force.

The AAA service for plug-ins will in some ways resemble other services for drivers of stranded traditional cars: the power-up will take the car 3-15 miles to the nearest charging station. It’s likely that the future will see graduated rates for more powerful charges or other “service plus” options. But no matter how it’s priced, electric car owners can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their AAA card will help them out if a charge doesn’t last as long as it should have.

Some customers who may have been on the fence about buying all-electric may be taking the leap as electric charging stations pop up in American cities and these sorts of news reports show dedication to the plug-in principle on the part of those who build U.S. infrastructure. If you are looking to upgrade to an all-electric ride, make sure to do the required research on how to get the best prices and financing for these rides, to maximize the savings you will get by breezing past the pumps.