ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE: Alternative Fuels: Helping customers to embrace change

Date: Thursday, December 22, 2022

By James Starling, Director, AA Business Services.

Businesses have faced a lot of disruption over the past few years, and 2022 has been no different. Decarbonising transport has been high on the agenda, and we have been working hard to make sure that our customers have access to the support and information they need to make informed decisions about how to switch to low-carbon fuels when it comes to their van fleets. 

We run one of the UK’s largest and most complex operational van fleets, so we are in a unique position when it comes to understanding the challenges and difficulties facing today’s van fleet managers. We’re also partners with more than 30 trade associations providing breakdown assistance to van operators across a broad range of sectors, including van rental, small business and utility companies. Working with partners and industry experts gives us a great deal of operational insight that informs the advice and support we are able to provide to van fleet owners and operators. Indeed, this year, we celebrated 30 years of partnership with Logistics UK. As a Van Excellence Gold Partner, we provide specialist breakdown services to tens of thousands of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) delivering essential goods and services up and down the UK.

We understand vans are the workhorses for many businesses, and keeping them on the road is vital. Beyond our roadside assistance, we give fleets valuable insight into how to increase efficiency, stay safe, manage costs, remain compliant with evolving legislation, and help prepare them for the future as transport transitions to alternative fuels. 

Preparing for the decarbonisation of van fleets is a major change, and we have invested heavily in ensuring our technicians are EV and alternative fuels ready, giving van fleets the confidence we can support them whatever their future vehicle mix. With so many variables at play for van fleets, including the changing shape of the workforce and workplace following the pandemic, we strive to be a consistent support for our customers, including the leading provider of products, services and advice for electrification. 

A dedicated charge post-service

Some of the key initiatives we’ve put in place as part of this strategy in 2022 include providing a dedicated charge post service. In practice, this mean we can help EV van drivers 24/7 with technical support if they encounter any challenges when charging their vehicle and get them back on the road as quickly as possible. We currently work with ten providers, covering more than 7,000 charge points, handling over 12,500 calls per month. And there’s more – we are also completing a pilot for an industry-first in-field charge post repair service. Our dedicated technicians will be on-hand to attend EV charge
point ‘breakdowns’ for customers. These will get the posts safely up and running so they’re always in service for drivers. 

As well as introducing a range of electric vehicles into our yellow fleet as part of our ongoing EV transition programme, which we demonstrated in this year’s Great British EV Rally, we’ve recently launched the UK’s first hydrogen fuel cell recovery vehicle, as hydrogen is being trialled as a future fuel for our fleet. This level of innovation provides us with valuable insight to support van fleets as they evolve. 

Leading the debate

We lead the debate. Where others offer one-way advice to fleets, we bring our customers into the discussion, enabling them to hear first-hand from industry leading experts on the future of the industry, and have their voices heard. We work with almost 10m business customers, including around three fifths of the UK’s top 20 fleets. 

Now more than ever, we’re beginning to see customers make their transition to electric vehicles (EVs), which is why we’ve seen it as an imperative move for our business to build a new EV support service infrastructure which offers services for the next generation of vehicles over their entire life-cycle. This ranges from offering EV driver training from our partners Drivetech to those who need it, to EV servicing which is now available at more than a third of our Service, Maintenance and Repair (SMR) garages  across the UK via Prestige Fleet Servicing.

Supporting every aspect of EV driving

Here at the AA, we’re committed to supporting our customers with every aspect of the EV driving experience. Knowledge building is a key part of our drive to support the transition to alternative fuels. Our latest yellow paper ‘Alternative Fuels: Thriving in a changing landscape’ is just one of the many resources, including webinars, that we put together to help van fleet drivers and operators adapt to changing the vehicle landscape with confidence. 

As we look forward to 2023, we will continue to innovate and share with our customers the exciting projects we’re working on to provide the best possible customer experiences as van fleets navigate their journey towards the roads of tomorrow. 

To find out more about AA Business Services, download the yellow paper, here

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