Electric vehicle charging infrastructure may be growing rapidly, but running out of juice on the side of an interstate remains every electric vehicle current or prospective owner’s worst nightmare. That’s why Blink Charging Co, operator of the Blink Network, has come up with what it calls a “tremendously innovative” way to help stranded EV drivers: a portable gasoline generator.
Indeed, Blink boasts that its 240-volt AC generator—equivalent in strength to a “level 2” charging station—can offer fully discharged EVs up to 9.6 kWh of battery charge per hour, with 10.9 gallons of gas permitting up to nine hours’ running time. Depending on what you drive (and how), one hour worth of charging is enough to get an EV anywhere from 25 to 50 miles worth of range, or enough to reach your nearest charging station, provided you didn’t run out of charge halfway up the Alcan Highway.
Though Blink touts the generator as a “reliable, cost-effective, portable, and mobile EV charger,” a company spokesperson tells us that the “non-networked” generator aimed at roadside assistance services comes with a $6,500 price tag, meaning it costs dozens of times as much as a portable generator you could buy at a discount hardware store—or even a reputable brand like Honda. Granted, a Chinese-built generator probably won’t run as cleanly or reliably as the Blink machine, but again, you could literally burn out dozens of throwaway generators for the price of a single Blink unit.
If leaning on internal combustion to power an electric vehicle wasn’t ironic enough on its own, Blink’s generator will also be accessible in a “networked” form, which costs a lesser but still significant $3,500, and an additional $18 monthly to operate. On top of that, it will charge your Blink account up to $0.69 per kWh generated, which comes out to $6.62 per hour before the cost of the 1.2 gallons of gas consumed over that period. If you’re anyone other than the management team that came up with the Juicero, this will come across as an unnecessary complication to charging a car on the go—a solution looking for a problem. Blink admittedly deserves credit for looking for a way to charge stranded vehicles, but one can’t help feeling that flatbedding your car to the nearest charger is a better use of gas.
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