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Recover-E: RAC adds ELECTRIC Renault Zoe to breakdown vehicle fleet

RAC customers who have had a breakdown with their car could soon be accommodated by an electric patrol bus, it announced this morning.

The roadside assistance company has added a pure electric Renault Zoe bus to its fleet of 1,600 patrol vehicles in a first test in the UK to understand how roadside assistance providers can operate after new petrol and diesel vans go out of business from 2030.

However, there are some limitations to its capabilities as a recovery vehicle, not least its inability to tow affected cars off the side of the road.

Recover-E: The RAC - one of the nation's largest roadside assistance companies - has added an electric Renault Zoe to its fleet of 1,600 recovery vehicles

Recover-E: The RAC – one of the nation’s largest roadside assistance companies – has added an electric Renault Zoe to its fleet of 1,600 recovery vehicles

Some – but not all – electric cars can’t be towed because of the extra weight, which puts too much stress on components like the brakes, but also potentially damages the electric powertrain itself.

This is because EVs use regenerative systems when slowing down – extra bulk from another vehicle will add a lot more kinetic energy when they try to slow down, which can overwhelm the electrical system.

While the zero-emission Zoe is unable to hook up a failed engine, the RAC says he can carry all the equipment needed to fix four of the five faults on site.

It will mainly be used to help solve two of the most common breakdowns for motorists in Britain: battery and tire problems.

It has been modified by the company so that – when fully charged – it can carry up to six replacement 12-volt car batteries, two tires, a trolley jack, a battery tester, the ‘RACScan’ diagnostic tool and a host of standard patrols. tools.

Because the RAC attends some 7,000 “random events” every day, bosses said it was imperative for the van to have a range of more than 200 miles to ensure it could reach customers immediately.

The chosen Zoe Van E-Tech – which starts from £26,450 (excluding VAT) – has an official range of 245 miles based on lab measurements; that means it’s probably closer (or less than) 200 miles in the real thing, especially when loaded with heavy batteries, tires, and tools.

UK's first trial is to better understand how electric vehicles could be used by roadside assistance after petrol and diesel vans are banned from being sold by 2030

UK's first trial is to better understand how electric vehicles could be used by roadside assistance after petrol and diesel vans are banned from being sold by 2030

UK’s first trial is to better understand how electric vehicles could be used by roadside assistance after petrol and diesel vans are banned from being sold by 2030

The electric Zoe recovery vehicle will primarily be deployed to attend to two of the most common motorists' breakdowns in Britain: battery and tire problems

The electric Zoe recovery vehicle will primarily be deployed to attend to two of the most common motorists' breakdowns in Britain: battery and tire problems

The electric Zoe recovery vehicle will primarily be deployed to attend to two of the most common motorists’ breakdowns in Britain: battery and tire problems

Another issue that is sure to raise eyebrows is the Zoe’s recent poor performance in crash tests.

Euro NCAP, the official body that examines the protection levels of the latest cars, awarded the Zoe electric passenger car a zero crash test late last year after it was found that Renault had removed a vital seat-mounted head protection airbag during a recent update to the vehicle. .

In a side-impact test, which mimics the car sliding sideways into a tree or lamppost, the assessment found that omission would likely cause fatal or serious injuries if a sold item penetrated deep into the passenger compartment.

It became only the third new car in 25 years of testing to score the lowest – zero – rating.

With patrols often forced to stop in precarious positions to escort vehicles that are broken down before they can reach a safe area off the road, some might argue that it’s imperative for salvage engineers to use models with better protective properties.

The van will only drive in urban and rural locations to assess its efficiency as a patrol vehicle, meaning those forced to stop on a highway are unlikely to see it appear on the horizon to assist them.

While the zero-emission Zoe can't tow a failed engine, the RAC says it can haul all the equipment needed to fix four of the five failures on site

While the zero-emission Zoe can't tow a failed engine, the RAC says it can haul all the equipment needed to fix four of the five failures on site

While the zero-emission Zoe can’t tow a failed engine, the RAC says it can haul all the equipment needed to fix four of the five failures on site

The Zoe bus can carry up to six replacement 12-volt car batteries, two tires, a trolley jack, a battery tester, the 'RACScan' diagnostic tool and a variety of standard patrol tools

The Zoe bus can carry up to six replacement 12-volt car batteries, two tires, a trolley jack, a battery tester, the 'RACScan' diagnostic tool and a variety of standard patrol tools

The Zoe bus can carry up to six replacement 12-volt car batteries, two tires, a trolley jack, a battery tester, the ‘RACScan’ diagnostic tool and a variety of standard patrol tools

RAC Group Operations Director Paul Coulton said it is imperative that electric vehicle trials in these scenarios take place now with the ban on sales of new combustion engine vans by the end of this decade, leaving fleet managers motors must be replaced regularly with no choice but to switch to vehicles with batteries and electric motors.

“This RAC’s first all-electric patrol car may be small, but it can easily handle nearly half of the breakdowns we are called out to every day.

“We have been reviewing several electric vans for some time now, but have been frustrated that none on the market can do what our diesel-powered patrol vehicles can currently do in carrying 500 parts and tools and towing breakdown vehicles, with a range that is even half of what one of our standard vans can do on a full tank.

“As we continue to discuss our requirements with manufacturers, we are confident that we can use an RAC electric patrol car effectively on the road by carefully deploying it for jobs that do not require it to be towed.”

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