Electric car, breakdown: this is what you should do with an empty battery

What to do if the e-car breaks down?

In most cases, when an electric car breaks down, the cause is a dead battery. AUTO BILD explains what you should do then. And what better not!

Car broke downbecause the fuel is running out? Annoying, but in an emergency a filled reserve canister or the trusted automobile club can help. And in the worst case it becomes easy towed away (Read here what you have to pay attention to). For many owners of Electric cars however, a roadside accident is a horror. But actually that’s not necessary. AUTO BILD answers the most important questions:

What to do if the e-car breaks down?

How do you avoid lying down?

Just listen to the car. Every Stromer has an on-board computer, which usually clearly indicates an impending empty battery and describes the way to the next charging station. These signals should by no means be ignored, even if it takes time.

Can you just tow an e-car?

Usually not. Electric cars cannot be towed safely because energy is usually generated in the electric motor via at least one axle. If the energy flows in the electric motor without an activated on-board system, high induction voltages can occur, which damage the control electronics. Therefore, an e-car usually has to be loaded.

Do electric cars often get stuck?

No. According to its own information, the ADAC had to turn out to about 400 breakdowns with electric vehicles in 2018 – also to provide start-up assistance or to help with tire damage. With more than 3.9 million missions in total, this is an extremely small number. Overall, electric cars are less prone to breakdowns than vehicles with combustion engines because there are fewer fault-prone assemblies on board.

Who can help if an electric car breaks down?

In many cases the manufacturers help with their mobility guarantee. As the portal found out in a survey, you can usually have the car transported to a service partner, a charging station or even home. The emergency services are mostly specially trained for electric cars, and many manufacturers offer a rental car as a temporary replacement.

Who else can I turn to?

To the breakdown helpers of the automobile clubs. The Yellow Angels from ADAC, for example, have been trained in handling electric cars and always know what to do. If an e-car-experienced workshop is nearby, they can help too. Helpful passers-by should be given clear instructions.

What shouldn’t you do in the event of an electric car breakdown?

Even “play around” with the vehicle’s high-voltage system. Put simply, all orange cables under the sheet metal of your own electric car are taboo. Exceptions only apply to experienced specialists. Everyone else should call such a specialist in the event of a breakdown.

Is there a mobile charging service?

Yes, Hyundai and ADAC have been testing so-called mobile charging in Hamburg and Duisburg since 2019. The Sangl car dealership in Landsberg am Lech also has a rolling charging station in its fleet. BMW i sent mobile helpers to work in urban areas under the name Mobile Recharger Service. However, these were retired by 2020 – due to lack of demand.

Can all e-cars be charged on the move?

What other mobile charging solutions are there?

VW presented a kind of power bank for electric cars at the end of 2018. The fast charging station can be set up in public parking lots, for example, but it can also be permanently connected to the power grid. Their charging capacity is up to 360 kWh and enables up to 15 electric cars to be charged in self-sufficient operation, up to four of them at the same time. Thanks to fast charging technology, a charging process should only take an average of 17 minutes.

There are also various start-ups that are trying their hand at mobile charging. For example, in Berlin brings green electricity in a battery box to a broken-down electric car by bike courier.

Hyundai, the ADAC and mobile emergency charging

Hyundai IONIQ Mobile Charger

The Ioniq Elektro Mobile Charger donates electricity to the damaged vehicle from its own battery.

© Hyundai Motor Germany

Automaker Hyundai and the ADAC Service GmbH (not the ADAC breakdown service) have one in Hamburg and Duisburg mobile loading aid tested. According to ADAC spokesman Christian Buric, the aim was to investigate the occurrence of breakdown situations in the two large cities with different charging infrastructures. On Hyundai Ioniq – even a fully electric vehicle – hurried with one Mobile charger E-cars stranded on board to help. In the so-called V2V charging (Vehicle to Vehicle) gave the Ioniq new juice from its battery to the victim. Was loaded with Direct current (DC-DC), a CCS connector (Combined Charging System).

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Renault Twizy INTENS, electric

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The specially equipped loading vehicle loaded with an output of maximum 20 kW. This gave the broken-down electric car within 15 minutes a range of about 25 kilometers – enough to reach the nearest charging station. An emergency of its own for the Ioniq was ruled out: as soon as its charge level dropped below 30 percent, the help process was automatically canceled.

* Further information on the official fuel consumption and the official specific CO2 emissions and, if applicable, the power consumption of new cars can be found in the “Guide to Official Fuel Consumption”, which is available free of charge at all sales outlets and from “Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH” (www


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