Running out of juice in an electric car tends to be more of a headache, assuming you’re stuck on the side of the road out of extension cable reach from an outlet, but Blink thinks it has the answer. The Blink mobile EV charger is designed for an emergency top-up to get your electric vehicle back on the road, though it doesn’t take eagle-eyes to see exactly where that backup power is coming from.
Indeed, you could think of the mobile EV charger as a portable gas generator matched with an electric vehicle charger. That’s because it really is those things.
Blink has effectively taken a gas generator – such as you might find on a job site, or being used in a power outage – and then permanently mounted one of its Blink IQ 200 chargers on the side. Add up to 10.9 gallons of regular gasoline, plug the standard EV plug into your car – via an adapter if you have a Tesla – and then start the whole thing running.
You’ll get up to 9.6 kW of continuous power out of it, enough for between 0-5 and 1 miles of range per minute plugged in, EV-depending. Blink says the generator should run for up to nine hours on a full tank, though that’s assuming 50-percent load. And, in reality, this isn’t intended to be a long-term solution.
While it may seem comical, for the intended purpose the Blink Portable Charger is actually fairly sensible. Although you could carry around a li-ion battery to do the same thing, it would need to be considerably larger than this generator in order to pack the same charging capacity for a vehicle. It’s as quick to refuel as, well, a regular generator, and although much slower than a full Level 2 charger or better, it would hopefully be enough to get you to that faster facility should the worst happen.
Blink is pitching it as ideal for roadside assistance companies, auto manufacturers, and others, as another possibility to help avoid range anxiety. It’ll have both standalone and connected versions, the latter using WiFi to link into Blink’s network of chargers. That way, an EV driver needing an emergency top-up could pay for it using their regular Blink account.
Using a small gas engine as a generator isn’t entirely new to the EV world, of course. Probably the closest we’ve seen to Blink’s idea is the BMW i3 Range Extender model, which fits a diminutive gas engine into the otherwise electric car. That’s not designed to directly drive the wheels, but instead acts as a source of extra power for the battery.
No word at this stage how much the Blink Portable Charger will cost, nor whether the company plans to sell it direct to EV owners.