The green emergency service? AA to roll out dedicated EV support

Roadside support specialist to launch new service for both EV drivers and charging network operators

The AA yesterday marked the first World EV Day by confirming it is to launch a dedicated EV Support Service for both electric vehicle (EV) drivers and charging networks.

The roadside support specialist said that following a successful pilot project with chargepoint services outfit SWARCO E.Connect UK over the summer, it is now planning to roll out a dedicated EV Support package for several other operators in the domestic, workplace, and public charging sectors.  

Moreover, contact centre staff are to provide EV drivers with dedicated support at the end of the phone, while the company said it is also exploring a field-based technician option to help maintain the country’s growing EV infrastructure.

Electric vehicles are significantly more reliable than conventional cars and tend to require less maintenance. But parts of the charging network have faced high profile maintenance challenges, while the AA anticipates demand from EV drivers for its services is set to grow rapidly in the coming years as the fleet of plug-in vehicles expands.

Almost half of all drivers said they will consider buying an EV when they next change their car, according to an exclusive poll of 17,628 drivers carried out for the company. Meanwhile, government incentives continue to support the purchase of new EVs and significant funding has been earmarked to enable the development of the charging infrastructure, including rapid chargepoints.

A growing band of leading corporates have also pledged to switch their fleets to electric models by 2030, with Uber this week becoming the latest major brand to unveil plans for a fully electric fleet.

“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,” the company said. “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.”

The AA yesterday also published a new report titled EV and Future Fuels, which explored how a growing number of fleet operators are embracing EVs in pursuit of lower running costs and emissions.

“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,” said Dean Hedger, EV new business development manager at the AA. “With more EVs on UK roads, it is important that we deliver a service that ensures excellent driver experience, for new users and EVangelists 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.”

He added that the AA could play a key role in supporting a transition to electric fleets that still faces a number of technical and cultural challenges.

“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,” he said. “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.”

In related news, auto giant Nissan also celebrated World EV Day by revealing it has produced its 500,000th Nissan Leaf, helping customers chalk up over 14.8 billion “clean air kilometres” since 2010 in the process.

The 500,000th Leaf rolled off the production line at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland, which has now delivered 175,000 Leaf cars since it began producing the model in 2013.

“Consumers have seen what cleaner air and reduced noise pollution feel like during lockdowns,” said Helen Perry, head of electric passenger cars and infrastructure at Nissan Europe. “Now more than ever, they’re looking to take positive steps towards a more sustainable future and the Nissan LEAF contributes to this efforts.”

Read more: businessgreen.com