The roadside assistance provider has announced a pilot scheme using a Renault Zoe-based van to answer certain types of common call-out.
It said that while electric vans were not yet capable of dealing with certain breakdowns or with towing vehicles, the smaller Zoe Van E-Tech was able to carry the tools and parts to deal with four out of five breakdowns on the spot while meeting the RAC’s range requirements.
The van will be put to work in a variety of urban and rural settings to assess how well it works as a patrol vehicle.
The RAC said that with 7,000 unpredictable call-outs per day, a range of more than 200 miles was critical for its first electric patrol van. The Zoe van has a 55kWh battery, and a claimed range of up to 245 miles on a single charge.
The Zoe Van will be used mainly to attend battery and tyre related call-outs - the most common incidents RAC patrols attend. As such the van can carry up to six replacement 12v car batteries, two tyres, a trolley jack, a battery tester, diagnostic tools and a host of standard patrol tools.
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.
“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.”