We've been following the progress of the Sparkcharge Roadie portable DC fast charging system since we first heard about it in early 2020. There has been a lot of improvements made to the Roadie system since then, and the company was even featured on the entrepreneurial reality show, Shark Tank, where it walked away with a $1 million inventment from sharks Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner.
We now have our own Roadie system on loan from Sparkcharge to test out and use on our InsideEVs 70-mph highway range tests. A few weeks ago we posted a video review of the system and how it works. A friend of mine that operates an electric vehicle car rental service in New Jersey saw the video and called me to ask about it when he saw the post here on InsideEVs.
About a week later, he called me again. This time he was asking if he could "borrow" the system to charge one of the Tesla Model 3s that he has in his rental fleet. One of his customers ran the battery flat before it could reach the Supercharger station. The person actually made it to the parking lot where the superchargers were, but the vehicle rolled to a stop about 500 feet shy of the stations.
If the driver was more experienced with EVs he probably could have made it to the supercharger if he had only turned off the vehicle, let it sit for a few minutes, and then turned it back on. Instead, he just called the rental car company and told them where the car was and that the rental was over.
The car then sat there for about a day (which is really not good to do with an EV that's flatlined) before my friend, Bob, could get to it to try to move it. He even received two tickets from the shopping center for parking the vehicle overnight.
I couldn't let Bob borrow the Roadie because our loaner agreement specifies that only I am allowed to operate it. In order to do so, I had to complete an online course to learn how the system works, and how to use it properly and safely.
So I agreed to pack it up and drive to the parking lot where the vehicle was stranded, which was only about 45 minutes from my house. I grabbed my camera and figured this would be a good opportunity to demonstrate how the system works in a real-life situation where an EV was stranded with a completely drained battery.
After plugging in the Roadie for about 10 minutes, we unplugged the vehicle and Bob drove over to the supercharger to fully recharge.
The Roadie is a modular system and you stack 1 to 4 battery modules on top of each other. The charger then snaps onto the top of the battery module(s). Each battery module has a total capacity of 3.7 kWh and a usable capacity of 3.5 kWh. A four-battery system can deliver a total of up to 14 kWh to the stranded vehicle(s). The Roadie is a DC fast charger (available in CCS1 or CHAdeMO) and can deliver up to 20 kW to the vehicle. That's good enough to charge at a rate of nearly a mile a minute.
The Roadie can be purchased or leased by roadside assist companies like AAA and private towing contractors SparkCharge is also rolling out a new service that uses the Roadie called ChargeUp.
ChargeUp mobile EV charging service
ChargeUp is a mobile EV charging service, and for as little as only $25 per month, ChargeUp service technicians will come to you and DC fast charge your EV wherever you want them to. That includes at home, work, or any location your vehicle is parked. In some circumstances, ChargeUp could actually end up costing less than what it would cost you to charge your EV at home using your own electricity supply.
ChargeUp is currently serving Dallas, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles. SparkCharge plans to expand to more cities soon. The ChargeUp app is available for download from both the Apple and Google Play app stores.
So check out the video and let us know what you think in the comment section below. Is the SparkCharge Roadie a game-changer for mobile electric vehicle DC fast charging?