Is there an equivalent remedy for an electric car, other than having it towed?
No, not for a pure electric car (as opposed to a hybrid).
I recall some early ideas for electric cars involved fast-change battery-packs but so far as I know, no production electric-vehicles have these and the facilities were fixed rather than mobile.
The equivalent to having roadside assistance bring fuel is
- the car's navigation system alerting you when range remaining is soon going to be greater than range to nearest charger. (my conventional car never does that)
- The car putting itself into increasingly economical modes.
- roadside assistance towing you to a supercharger.
This is a problem faced by all pilots of conventionally-powered aircraft. They can't run out of fuel mid-air, they have to plan for refuelling stops en-route, and continuously monitor fuel remaining against range to nearest airport with refuelling facilities.
Long before you actually run out, the car will start warning you. The navigation system will give a warning when you get too far from known charging places, and the green bar ‘fuel gauge’ under the speedometer will turn first yellow and then, at about 5% remaining, red. A dotted line will appear on the power display, indicating that maximum power is limited, although the car will still drive normally – it is just maximum acceleration that is not available.
If you ignore these warnings and carry on driving, when the gauge reaches zero it is replaced by a red notice saying ‘Charge Now!’. After that, the maximum power limit is gradually reduced and the car’s performance will become noticeably sluggish, although it can still maintain 60+ mph. Eventually, power is lost altogether and the car gives a warning chime and a notice to ‘pull over safely’. All of the car’s safety systems are powered by a separate small battery so that the brakes, power steering, lights, instruments etc. will still work normally after the main battery has run out and switched itself off.
Having pulled off the road, you should now call Tesla Roadside Assistance for help. Usually, their response will be to arrange for your car to be transported to the nearest sensible charging facility – a Supercharger if one is nearby, or another public charging facility. Alternatively, they can arrange for your car to be taken to your home or your original destination, although you may have to pay for the cost of this if it is significantly further. Check the Roadside Assistance document or the Teslapedia article for coverage limits.
If you are a member of one of the standard motoring support organizations (AA, RAC, AAA, CAA etc), most of these now include towing of EVs within their standard policies. Occasionally they may be able to offer a faster response than Tesla’s towing contractors, so it is worth checking your coverage.