Fuels

Polar Power Introduces Portable Charger to Prevent EV Range Anxiety

Lightweight charging unit designed to provide emergency roadside assistance for stranded EVs
Polar Power portable charger
Photograph courtesy of Polar Power

Polar Power has developed an answer to so-called range anxiety, the nervous dread electric-vehicle drivers might have when they are driving to an unfamiliar area and are concerned about not being able to find a charger before their vehicle runs out of energy.

The Gardena, California-based manufacturer of direct-current power systems is taking advance orders for its upgraded mobile CHAdeMO charger, a portable generator of electric power that fits in the back of a pickup truck, said Shawn Severson, co-founder of Water Tower Research in St. Petersburg, Florida. Severson is an analyst who covers Polar Power and provided information about the charger to CSP Daily News.

The company expects the chargers to be available for delivery in first-quarter 2024, it said. Supply-chain issues are responsible for the long wait time between pre-order and delivery, Polar Power said. They have also affected installations of EV chargers at convenience-store chains such as Plaid Pantry. More c-store chains, from Sheetz to Circle K and 7-Eleven, are installing charging ports, as demand grows for EV charging thanks to the Biden administration's support of cleaner energy and reduced emissions. It's also bringing new competition for fuel stations as charging stations are being installed in many different locations.

Polar Power  currently is testing a new 9000 series of its CHAdeMO EV charger with a 50-kilowatt charging output, but the first units to ship will be smaller 15-kilowatt and 30-kilowatt chargers that use propane, natural gas or diesel. They’re about half the weight and size of a regular charger. The company has sold these portable chargers to automakers for fast-charging EVs during field testing, according to a news release.

Gas stations and other companies or government agencies providing emergency roadside assistance would be natural customers for the chargers, Severson said. The company did not announce the price.

The portable charger is designed to give a fast, temporary charge, sufficient for recharging an EV so it can drive to a charging station for a full charge, Severson said. He compared it to the emergency can of gas a service station might bring to a gas-powered vehicle that ran out of gasoline on a highway.

Gas stations will be able to bring the portable charger to a stranded EV and charge it in about 15 to 20 minutes, he said. “This will be on-road emergency charging,” he said. The only other viable option might be waiting for a flatbed tow truck to arrive and load the empty vehicle on its flatbed to bring it to an EV charging station, Severson said.

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