A few days ago, Kia started offering a new service in a few California cities: electric car charging brought to your car, wherever it’s parked. The service, available through mobile charging provider Currently’s app, will be free to Kia drivers until April 30th.
Kia and Currently’s free service will be available for up to three charging sessions per week for two months, after which it appears that Currently’s normal rates will apply (assuming Kia doesn’t offer some kind of discount). Customers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose can get on Currently’s app and order charging just like a pizza. Currently then comes out with a mobile battery-powered charger and plugs your car in for a set period of time.
“The relationship with our customers does not end after delivery. In fact, that is just the beginning,” said Greg Silvestri, Kia’s Vice President of Service Operations, said. “Partnering with Currently to offer complimentary charging connects perfectly to our larger ‘Plan S’ strategy and amplifies our commitment to overall electrified vehicle adoption. We believe that making charging easy also makes ownership easy.”
If the pilot goes well, and there’s good customer feedback, Kia says it will expand its partnership with Currently to more cities. So Kia and Currently could be coming to a city near you.
“We couldn’t be happier to partner with Kia to give their electrified vehicle drivers the convenience of mobile charge delivery,” said Josh Aviv, CEO/Founder of SparkCharge, the parent company of Currently. “We created Currently to make ownership of these vehicles more convenient and accessible.”
A Quick Look At Currently
Details from Kia’s press release were a little sparse, so I decided to dig into Currently’s offerings a bit more to get a better idea of what its service is like, so we’d know what Kia and Currently are actually offering here.
The idea is just as described in Kia’s press release (the first section of this story relied on that for information). You reserve a time and place, and Currently will come out, drop off a charger, and charge your car. They use SparkCharge’s Roadie charging system, which comes from Currently’s parent company. This stack of batteries then delivers a Level 2 charge to your vehicle, delivering up to 50 miles of range.
They didn’t specify how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) they’re delivering or the charge rate on their website, but I’m guessing that they’re delivering around 12 kWh of energy. As usual, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). This means that for a reasonably efficient EV driven easy, you’d probably get at or near the 50 miles of range. If you’re calling them out to charge your Hummer EV, you’d get significantly less range. If you need them to boost an Aptera in a year or two, then you’d get over 100 miles out of it.
Currently’s website also had cost information on its FAQ page. If you’re on the Kia and Currently plan as described in the press release, you get the free charging as described up to three times weekly. If you’re not a Kia customer and want to order a charge, you can do that for a fee in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, or Dallas. I can’t find specific information on how big those service areas are, but if you use their “request a zipcode” feature on the app, and you live near one of those cities, I’m imagining they’d get to adding that zipcode a lot faster than if you requested for them to add some zipcode in the middle of nowhere with more cows than people.
Subscriptions start at $25/monthly with two charging sessions delivered for $9.99 each and max out at $80 monthly for six sessions delivered for $5.99 each.
If you have a vehicle with a charging port door that can’t be opened remotely, they want you to leave it open a bit for them to access it. If you can open it remotely, they’ll notify you when they arrive and you can pop it open for them. If neither of those works, you can run out and open it up for them if needed. It all depends on your particular vehicle’s setup. If I lived in Dallas and wanted them to charge my Nissan LEAF, I’d have to leave it open for them when I parked the car.
Who Would Use This New Service From Kia & Currently?
In theory, such a service probably won’t be used regularly by most customers who bought an EV. It only adds up to 50 miles of range to the car, so I’d think you’d only use it in a pinch if you needed to get a charge and you weren’t able to park at a charging station for some reason. For instance, you’re at work and know you’re going to be a little low, so you reserve a charging session to make sure you get home to charge.
One thing they won’t do is use their service for roadside charging. If you run out, they suggest contacting your roadside service provider for a tow or charge (some roadside services offer charging now). So definitely don’t count on Currently to get out of a bind if you are the kind of person who gets stuck on the side of the road. They only deliver the service to parking lots and driveways.
Another segment of the population that might find this service highly useful are people who don’t have charging available at home. I know some people rely on fast charging or workplace charging to keep their car going, and having someone who could spot you in a pinch would be great in that situation.
Finally, I think some future solar car owners may like this option, especially if they’re in the last category of drivers without home charging. If you know there’s not going to be sun for a few days, they could come out and give your battery a boost at home or work to make sure you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to take it to charge somewhere.
For those of us with home and workplace charging, this service probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but it does show that the industry is trying new things to see if they can help the EV driver community on the road. It might not be the most essential service for us, but for people in unique situations, it could prove to be the difference between being able to buy an EV at all. For that reason, it’s a pretty cool thing.