Running out of charge is about the worse thing that can happen to any electric car owner, and while it rarely happens, it’s an often-cited reason why people won’t make the switch to a plug-in car.Traditionally, running flat has meant that you’ve had to wait around for a tow truck, beg an agonisingly slow charge from a 13-amp wall socket, or find another way to finish your journey, but as InsideEVs reports, a company from Italy has another solution: get a fellow EV driver to give you a boost in an EV-to-EV Jump start.
Enter Andromeda Power and its latest product, the ORCA Inceptive. Designed in Italy, built in the U.S., and available to buy in both Europe and the U.S., the ORCA Inceptive is small enough to fit in the boot of a Nissan LEAF, and can recharge a stranded CHAdeMO-compliant car like the LEAF from empty to 20 percent full in around five minutes.
Here’s where it gets clever. Because the CHAdeMO DC charge protocol supports two-way power flow, the ORCA Inceptive can be specified at the factory to have not one but two CHAdeMO connectors on it: one to take power from the battery pack of a charged electric car; and one to feed power into another vehicle’s battery pack. Meanwhile, an ad-hoc connection from the unit allows users to remotely start and stop the charging process using a smartphone, tablet PC or other networked device.
If the thought of sucking power from one EV to another sounds a little too much like the EV equivalent of a blood transfusion, then don’t worry: Andromeda Power says the ORCA Inceptive can be configured with a secondary power source able to accept power from a variety of sources, including single and three-phase mains power. If you’re really desperate, it will even run from a large static battery pack, or a diesel or petrol generator.
While it might sound like the perfect aftermarket accessory for the budding LEAF, Mitsubishi i, Citroen C-Zero or Peugeot iOn driver however, there are a couple of caveats you should be aware of before rushing for your credit card.
First, while the ORCA Inceptive fits into the boot of a NIssan LEAF, it doesn’t leave you with much room for anything else. Second, at a massive 81 kilograms in weight (180 pounds) driving around with one in your boot will give your own car a serious knock in performance over longer distances. Then there’s the price: while it might be subtantially smaller than your average rapid charge station, we’d be surprised if its comparative price matched its relatively small dimensions.
Where we can see the ORCA Inceptive being of most use however, is in the fleet market, where vehicles cover predictable, daily routes but their drivers either forget to charge or underestimate the effect their driving has on range. In those situations, where the cars may not be physically far from a base but still cover a large radius around it, the ORCA Inceptive could save a large fleet tens of thousands in recovery costs and lost man-hours.
Naturally, the ORCA Inceptive would be a great addition to any breakdown service, being far more cost-effective to send out a dedicated ‘Jump-Start’ minivan to a stranded EV driver than it would be to arrange for a larger, less-efficient flatbed trailer to take them to their destination. But we’d also like to see this clever device at EV Rallies and on crazy cross-continent trips, where the only way to get a quick recharge is to live by your wits and plug in to whatever power is going.
Which makes us wonder: how easy would it be to cross Europe with an ORCA Inceptive strapped in the boot…?
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