FT - AA roadside service

Following successful implementation across the Swarco E.Connect UK network over the summer months, the AA is set to roll out a dedicated EV Support package for other operators in the domestic, workplace and public charging environments.

Alongside contact centre staff who provide EV drivers with support at the end of the phone, the AA is also exploring a field-based technician option to maintain the country’s growing EV infrastructure.

The AA says it is responding to demand following the news that demand for all forms of battery, plug-in, and mild-hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) has risen significantly, representing a quarter of total new car market share in July or just over 44,000 new vehicles on the roads, according to SMMT data. There are also more than 33,500 charging connectors on the UK public network.

Almost half of all drivers (47%) say they will consider buying an electric vehicle when they next change their car, according to the AA’s exclusive poll of 17,628 drivers. Government incentives also support the drive to EV, with more than £1bn committed to incentivising the switch in the February 2020 Budget, and £500m dedicated to the roll-out of a super-fast EV charging network.

To support its commitment to EV, as one of multiple alternative powertrains on the market, the AA also released a standalone report ‘EV and Future Fuels’ to coincide with its Founding Partner role for World EV Day on September 9, 2020. The report features contributions from Swarco, as well as Uber and Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association. It highlights the opportunities for fleets and SMEs looking to make the switch to EV, as well as suggesting some of the questions they should address in the process.

Dean Hedger, EV new business development manager, said: “We have a deep and continued commitment to ensuring the availability of both the expertise and technology to meet the needs of fleets and drivers throughout their vehicle lifecycle. With more EVs on UK roads, it is important that we deliver a service that ensures excellent driver experience, for new users and EV-angelists alike.

“The AA EV Support Service builds on our existing capability across the business, including having the largest group of EV Level 2 trained technicians in the UK. One third of the AA Prestige garage network is already EV capable, most of our company cars are already EVs or plug-in hybrids, and AA Drivetech provides specific EV driver training. The logical next step is ensuring we can support the infrastructure accompanying EV vehicle adoption.”

As part of the EV Support managed services offer, the AA will support drivers if they need help at the charge point, handling calls about both the electric car and electric charging infrastructure. Refuelling routines are different for EV drivers; networks vary widely and so does the charging technology available, hence the understandable confusion new EV drivers often face.

Hedger adds: “It is clear there is a way to go before universal adoption can be achieved. Perceptions need to change – but for that to happen, the reality must alter too. Batteries, range, payload and charging infrastructure are just a few of the areas which will need to develop significantly. That is why simplifying the journey for all EV drivers is a huge priority. We are keen to help both established and new EV drivers get to grips with technology so they can get as much enjoyment as possible from their EV driving experience, ensuring they are fully supported at every mile of their journey.”