The RAC is the first major roadside assistance company in the UK to begin using an electric patrol vehicle to attend breakdowns.
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 EVs 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 range being compromised.
Unlike delivery companies which can carefully plan their routes, the RAC deals with around 7,000 random events every day meaning a 200-plus 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. As such the van carries up to six replacement 12v 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.
RAC group operations director Paul Coulton said: “We are very excited to be putting our first electric zero-emission patrol van into service. We have been assessing various electric vans for some time but have been frustrated by the fact there isn’t one on the market that can do what our diesel-powered patrol vans can do at the moment in terms of carrying 500 parts and tools and towing broken-down vehicles, with a range that’s even half what one of our standard vans can do on a full tank.
“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, and 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.”