Angel to the Rescue

By Bill Moore

Posted: 13 Sep 2010

Somebody was bound to come up with the idea sooner or later. It appears that 'somebody' is Swiss-based Nation-E, and the when is now. Founded by Daniel Jammer, at one time the world's largest producer of titanium, Nation-E bills itself as providing "energy storage solutions for smart grid infrastructure and e-mobility."

What Herr Jammer and company have developed is the 'Angel Car,' a rolling electric car emergency charing station. Based on a PSA Kangoo/Berlingo light delivery van platform, the vehicle pictured above supports a 230V Level II 3kWh peak charger that is able to recharge a stranded electric car's battery in less than 15 minutes, giving it a limp-home range of up to an additional 30 km, according to the company press release.

Think of it as the EV world equivalent of the AAA roadside emergency service vehicle that comes along to repair flat tires, add a couple gallons of gasoline to an empty tank, jump-start a dead starter battery or tow a broken-down vehicle to the nearest repair shop. The company points out that the big green charger bolted to the bed of the Angel Car is more than just a scaled-up version of your conventional car battery charger. It has intelligence built into, states the company.

"The communication between the stranded vehicle and the Angel Car is facilitated through Nation-E’s high-end Battery Management System. This system is capable to converse and examine the parameters and the verification permits of the car battery, and determine the quantity and intensity of energy that should be fast-charged into the stranded vehicle. This hyper-intelligent unit is equipped with a touch screen that enables the controlled flow of energy."

It will be comforting for future EV owners to know that Angel Car-like services are available in their area, just in case. After all, gasoline cars run out of gasoline; electric cars can also run of the electric power, leaving both stranded along the roadside. What we don't know about the vehicle is what powers the onboard generator/charger. Presumably the charger is powered by the vehicle's own IC engine spinning a fairly hefty DC generator, whose output is then channeled through the DC-to-DC charger. Photos of the vehicle don't show a separate engine generator. I've emailed the company for clarification on this question.

Overall, the concept is a good one, apart from the likelihood that the Angel Car itself is powered by petroleum, as might be the generator/charger. We also don't know what the business model will be: probably some sort of service fee per rescue or annual subscription, or possibly a combination of both. The company has demonstrated the vehicle to "key industry players and politicians" in Brussels. Given the drive in the Netherlands to promote electric cars, it would seem a good bet that the Angel Car, or something akin to it will appear there in the not too distant future. At which point, the theological question of the age won't be how many angels can sit on the head of a pin, but how many EVs can this Angel rescue in any given day?

Angel Car with 230V charger mounted in the back and designed to provide emergency charging services to electric cars.

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