The RAC has developed and launched new industry-leading equipment that effectively brings flatbed recovery capability to its breakdown patrol vans, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of drivers time and stress every year.
In what is believed to be a first in the roadside assistance industry worldwide, the RAC’s orange patrol vans now have the capability to fully lift all four wheels of broken-down vehicles, enabling patrols to recover more themselves and removing the need to call out an additional recovery vehicle.
Crucially, vehicles that normally need to be recovered separately – including crossovers, SUVs, 4x4s, pick-ups, vans, automatics, hybrids and even electric vehicles – can now all be recovered by a single patrol van, as can those with faults which make towing impossible, like multiple punctured tyres, handbrake or transmission failures and many breakdowns caused by potholes.
The new All-Wheels-Up technology builds on the success of the RAC’s existing rapid deployment trailer, which is fitted to all RAC patrol vans and can tow broken-down vehicles by lifting two wheels off the road. The RAC was the first UK roadside assistance company to introduce this equipment in 2001, and since 2010 its patrols have completed more than 37 million miles of recoveries using it on the UK’s roads.
The new equipment stows easily into the back of an existing long wheelbase RAC van, and can be deployed by a patrol in a fraction of the time it would normally take for a standard recovery truck to arrive, meaning the time taken to get a stricken vehicle home or to a garage is cut dramatically.
RAC technical director Kate Burn said “Our patrols’ first priority, after ensuring the safety of the driver and their passengers, is to try to carry out a permanent or temporary vehicle fix at the roadside – this delivers the best outcome for drivers and means that in the vast majority of cases they can soon be on their way again.
“But there are times when, due to the nature of the problem with the vehicle, a roadside fix is impossible. And, as a result of the rise in the number of crossovers, SUVs, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles on our roads, there has also been an increase in instances where our patrols can’t recover a vehicle using our existing trailer. In both scenarios, our customers previously had to wait for a recovery truck to arrive.
“The changing nature of breakdowns has meant we have completely re-thought our recovery technology, and the new All-Wheels-Up equipment is the result. This one piece of kit has the potential to transform the service RAC patrols deliver to members – they can now recover more vehicles than ever from a standard patrol van, reducing waits at the roadside.
“We are steadily rolling out the equipment to all our new patrol vans, so more and more of our members will begin to benefit. I’m pleased to say that feedback from personal and business customers, as well as from our motor manufacturer partners, has been extremely positive.
“We have a long and proud history of innovation at the RAC, finding solutions to problems our patrols and our members face at the roadside. The new All-Wheels-Up equipment is just the latest example of this.”
RAC patrol Martin Payn, who works in Somerset and Dorset and regularly uses the new equipment, said “In the rural parts of the country I cover, I see a lot of breakdowns involving SUVs and 4x4s. In the past, on the occasions where I couldn’t fix their vehicle, customers always had to wait for a recovery truck – which was frustrating for them, and for me.
“This new kit has been very well received by customers who have seen it in action, with many remarking how clever and compact the design is. There are times when customers are fully expecting to have to wait for a recovery truck, and they are genuinely surprised and then very impressed that I’ve now got the ability to recover them myself, with my van.”
The All-Wheels-Up equipment complements the RAC’s range of recovery options, which in addition to the existing rapid deployment trailer includes a fleet of RAC-branded flatbed trucks and a nationwide network of contractor partners.