Fleet News

AA speeds up recovery of EVs and 4x4s with new ‘freewheeling hub’

A new towing solution developed by the AA promises to cut the waiting time for electric vehicle (EV) and 4x4 drivers who require recovery.

The freewheeling hub can be fitted to the rear wheels of broken down vehicles that could not usually be towed by a regular patrol van.

These include vehicles with seized brakes, failed wheel bearings or electric handbrakes, plus 4x4s and EVs.

Prior to the introduction of the freewheeling hub, these vehicles would need to be recovered by a larger AA vehicle – adding additional waiting time.

The invention is now being used by more than 900 patrols and will be rolled out to all patrols in the coming months.

AA chief engineer Steve Ives came up with the solution. He said: “I worked on the concept for many hours in my shed at night and eventually crafted a wooden prototype. This has now been further developed and put into production with our partners AE Oscroft, and is working well.”

The freewheeling hub works in conjunction with the AA’s Multi-Fit wheel and new heavy-duty Multi-fit wheel for larger vehicles, enabling patrols to fit temporary spare wheels to almost any vehicle. It has its own heavy-duty high-speed bearing making the wheel turn independently from the car. The AA collaborated with presswork and prototyping specialist AE Oscroft to develop these solutions.

The device will also enable the movement of vehicles in confined spaces which cannot be reached by larger recovery vehicles.

James Hosking, chief operating officer – Roadside at the AA, said: “We tasked the team to come up with a cleaner, safer, smarter solution to towing certain categories of vehicles. Our chief engineer took on the role of ‘Q’ in the fictional research and development in James Bond and invented the ingenious high-speed freewheeling hub.  

“This fantastic innovation will help to future-proof our service and rescue customers more quickly than our competitors. We have already seen a big increase in SUV sales and are likely to witness an electric vehicle revolution in the coming years. Our innovations keep us ahead of the game.” 

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