Article date: 1 December 2008
RAC is the first recovery company to trial hybrid vehicles, as part of a wider initiative to reduce CO2 emissions.
Two vehicles from RAC's fleet are being trialled with the Hybrid+ system, one in Norwich and the other in central London. RAC will be monitoring the fuel consumption over a period of two months to measure the savings.
If the trial successfully reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions, RAC aims to increase the number of hybrid vehicles in its fleet.
Steve Lydon, RAC quality manager, said: "The Hybrid+ system is bolted on to the engine of the vehicle. When you pull away, it kicks in and turns the engine using the electricity it has stored, as opposed to fuel. A 20% fuel saving has been proposed but we want to test this to make sure it is effective.
"There is a certain technique required to drive the hybrid vehicles to get the maximum benefits in terms of fuel savings. The two patrols that will be driving the vehicles are going through training to learn the new driving style, which involves having to change gear below 2100 revs/minute."
RAC is working to reduce carbon emissions through various other initiatives, according to Lydon: "Where possible, we are using our network of RAC approved local garages to fix the problem near to the breakdown site, as opposed to towing vehicles a very long distance.
"The weight of the patrol vehicles is also a factor that affects fuel usage and CO2 emissions. We are constantly appraising this, for example at the moment we are testing a lightweight jack and generally making sure patrols remove any unnecessary weight from the van.
"Fix Without Resource is an additional initiative that saves a lot of CO2. This is where we use the skills of the technical call centre staff to fix problems over the phone."
RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn on 01603 684224/07800 692909 or Elinor Graveson at Staniforth on 0161 919 8025/ 07973 360141.
Notes to editors:
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.
RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by JD Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the past two years.
Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.
RAC is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 27 countries.
RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.