AA and JLR formulate plans for roadside assistance for electric cars

While electric cars are not yet a regular sight on South African roads, the number of local customers buying these modern vehicles is increasing. This means that a new need for specialised electric vehicle services is on the rise, creating a window of opportunity for those in the motor industry.

Of particular importance is roadside assistance. Many roadside assistance providers do not yet have the support staff to handle the unique dynamics of an electric vehicle. For example, this type of vehicle runs on a very high-voltage battery, which could pose a hazard to responders who are not familiar with its functionality. Even the simple act of changing a wheel must be done with care for the chassis-mounted batteries.

And that’s where Jaguar Land Rover has taken the initiative and partnered with the Automobile Association to train Line Managers on specialised electric vehicle roadside assistance and vehicle recovery.

JLR has a training academy in Pretoria, and this is where AA was invited to learn about the car manufacturer’s technical expertise on a range of electrified vehicles. One of the hot topics was “how to jump-start a fully electric car”. According to JLR, it’s possible to boost an electric vehicle’s battery with a unit that has a higher voltage. With the lack of charging stations in the country, this type of first response may become a high demand as EV (electric vehicle) drivers take to the long roads.

The team of technicians who received this training were tasked with safely entering and jump-starting an unresponsive EV vehicle, which relies on electricity to access doors and the bonnet. Electricity is also needed to disable vehicle security systems.

The technicians were taught how to safely change an EV’s tyre. While the process is essentially the same as changing a tyre on any car, AA members were trained on the significance of lifting points. This is because many electric vehicles feature batteries that have been mounted low on the floor where they could be damaged by jacks.

Important knowledge on how to work correctly with wires was also shared.  The meaning behind the colour of cables was a highlighted topic and the differentiation between AC and DC cables also formed part of the syllabus.

“I’m a qualified mechanic with over 30 years’ experience, and my technical knowledge dates to simple engines with carburettors. As our industry transitions into a new era of electrification, it’s important that the services the AA offer keep up mobility trends,” said AA Line Manager Benson Matshazi.

AA’s CEO, Willem Groenewald, continued to stress the importance of remaining at the cutting edge of electric mobility, with a focus on AA’s ability to service the needs of all its customers.  

“Jaguar Land Rover’s training provided useful practical knowledge for our staff,” said Groenewald. “We are always learning and improving our skills – all with the customer in mind – so this training was timely and important for us.”