The RAC is the first major roadside assistance company in the UK to begin using an electric patrol vehicle to attend breakdowns. When the RAC, which provides more than 12.7 million UK personal and business members everything from breakdown assistance to insurance and other motoring services, starts using an electric vehicle (EV) it shows the revolution is happening and times are changing.
It’s a symbiotic moment for both drivers of electric cars and companies using them to support this. In the UK, the RAC joins Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which introduced the ABT e-Transporter electric van onto its Mobile Service Clinic fleet, and Mercedes, which launched its electric eSprinter last summer as part of its Service24h roadside assistance unit.
With no electric van yet capable of towing broken-down vehicles, the RAC is piloting a zero-emission Renault Zoe Van E-Tech which is one of the few electric vehicles on the market capable of carrying the necessary tools and parts needed to fix four out of five breakdowns on the spot, without its 245-mile (394km) range being compromised.
Unlike delivery companies that can carefully plan their routes, the RAC deals with around 7,000 random events every day meaning a 200-plus (322km) mile range was a critical requirement. The Renault Zoe patrol van will principally be used to attend the RAC’s two most common breakdowns – batteries and tyres – which together account for nearly half of all call-outs.
The Renault Zoe van will carry up to six replacement 12-volt car batteries, two tyres, a trolley jack, a battery tester, the RACScan diagnostic tool and a host of standard patrol tools. The RAC’s first 55kW Renault Zoe patrol van will be deployed in a variety of settings, both urban and rural, to assess its efficiency as a patrol vehicle.
Paul Coulton, RAC group operations director, said: “While we continue to talk to manufacturers about our requirements, we’re confident we can put an electric RAC patrol van into effective use on the road by carefully deploying it to jobs that won’t require towing.
“We’re already leading the breakdown industry in terms of EV breakdown with our award-winning RAC EV Boost technology which can get flat or severely depleted electric cars going again without the need for heavy and bulky portable batteries.
“Our All-Wheels-Up rapid recovery system, which enables a standard patrol van to safely tow a stricken EV with all four wheels off the road, so this was a logical next step.
“This first RAC all-electric patrol van may be small, but it’s easily capable of successfully attending nearly half of the breakdowns we get called out to on a daily basis. We’re confident it will prove the old saying that good things really do come in small packages.”