(LOS ANGELES, April 20, 2012) — The region’s first electric vehicle charging truck was commissioned for service today by the Automobile Club of Southern California and Assembly Transportation Committee chair Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), and the organization unveiled its first fixed-site electric vehicle (EV) charging station at its historic headquarters building in downtown Los Angeles. Two more charging stations were opened today in Costa Mesa.
“We are pleased today to bring the AAA Mobile EV charging truck to the Los Angeles market, one of the largest EV markets in the nation, and add another fixed-site charging station to the growing network of Level 2 stations in the region,” said Auto Club Senior Vice President of Member Services Michael A. Johnson. “Both initiatives are part of the Auto Club’s growing alternate fuel research program to understand and meet the future automotive needs of Auto Club members and the public.”
“With electric vehicle charging stations and the mobile charging truck, the Auto Club shows its continual evolution in services to serve members today and in the future,” added Johnson. “We’re ready to meet the needs of a changing California fleet of vehicles and to provide more options to our members.”
“Charging stations were the missing link,” said Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal. “We have the electricity, we're building the cars, and now we're making it easier to charge them up. This is absolutely crucial if we want to stay ahead of the demand curve.”
In about 15 minutes, the truck can provide a charge that will add a few more driving miles to new EVs. This is comparable to providing a gallon of gasoline to members whose vehicles run out of fuel. There will be no additional cost for the EV charge and the service call is part of the four allotted annual service calls within Auto Club membership. The truck provides Level 2 (AC) and Level 3 (DC fast-charging) capabilities, noted Johnson.
The Auto Club’s mobile EV charging vehicle is part of the national AAA Mobile EV Charging pilot program which has placed vehicles in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Portland (Ore.), Tampa Bay area and Knoxville. The AAA Mobile EV charging vehicles were developed by Huntington Beach-based Green Charge Networks. The Auto Club’s truck is equipped with a compressed natural gas generator to power the charging unit. It will provide service in the downtown Los Angeles area.
The new Auto Club EV charging station, developed by AeroVironment, Inc. of Monrovia, will be available free of charge to members and the public during regular business hours. The charging station has two ports that allow up to two electric vehicles to recharge simultaneously at 240 volts. Two additional AeroVironment EV charging stations are also open today at Auto Club locations in Costa Mesa.
These two EV initiatives are part of the Club’s growing alternative fuel research program that includes the Auto Club fleet of 20 smart fortwo EVs acquired last year to kick off its research program. The fleet is one of the nation’s largest private fleets of smart fortwo EVs.
Throughout the Auto Club's history, the member service organization has taken steps to understand alternate fuel vehicles and prepare for what consumers might purchase, according Johnson. In the 1970s, the Auto Club had a fleet of Ford Rancheros and Chevy El Caminos that were powered by Liquefied Petroleum Gas. The Auto Club's Automotive Research Center has tested alternate fuel and hybrid vehicles when introduced to the market, and produces a Green Car Guide for car buyers, he added.
More members are expected to drive alternate fuel and zero-emission vehicles in the coming years to escape from $4 a gallon gasoline. The Los Angeles average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline began 2012 at $3.65 per gallon and peaked at $4.40 per gallon, or an increase of 75 cents per gallon. The year-to-date average Los Angeles gas price is $4.08. At this price, the average household with two vehicles driven an average of 15,000 miles each annually uses 1,200 gallons of gasoline per year at a cost of about $4,900, or about $410 monthly.
In general, electricity is about one-fourth or one-fifth the cost of gasoline, according to the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor. Based on the Auto Club’s research and EPA estimates, the smart fortwo electric drive vehicle uses 0.39 kilo watt hours (KWH) per mile at 12 cents per KWH. The cost of two EVs driven 15,000 miles per year would spend $1,400 per year for the cost of electricity.
The Auto Club also has installed two charging stations in Orange County. One is at its Costa Mesa branch at 3350 Harbor Blvd. The station also is available during 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. branch hours. Another charging station is located at the Auto Club’s Administrative Offices where employees using Auto Club smart fortwo electric drive on business or who drive their own EVs will be able to recharge. As an added benefit, personal EV-driving employees may park in designated carpool areas and qualify for ride share credits.
Also, as part of its ongoing efforts to understand and learn more about alternate fuels, the Auto Club is sponsoring a hydrogen vehicle fueling station at Cal State Los Angeles which will open later this year.
The new EV charging stations also fit in with the Auto Club’s ongoing sustainability initiatives. These initiatives include energy efficient lighting, solar panels at headquarters, refurbished office furniture, low VOC paint and carpet installation, and Green Seal-certified cleaning supplies use. The Auto Club also recycles computer equipment and paper, and hosts periodic community Shred-a-Thons to collect paper and e-waste.
About the Automobile Club of Southern California
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.AAA.com.