In response to the growth of bigger, heavier SUVs, 4x4s and electric vehicles on the UK’s roads, the RAC has unveiled the latest addition to its vehicle fleet – a custom-built Isuzu D-Max patrol van.

The RAC’s technical team has worked closely with Isuzu and Strongs Plastic Products to adapt the award-winning vehicle to accommodate the standard patrol kit of 500 parts and tools, together with the pioneering All-Wheels-Up recovery system which brings flatbed recovery capability to its breakdown patrol vans. It also comes equipped the RAC’s innovative EV Boost electric vehicle charging system and a new motorbike recovery carrier.

The result is the RAC Heavy Duty 4×4 Patrol Van which will be the most flexible and powerful breakdown patrol vehicle operating on UK roads. Powered by its 1.9 litre engine, it has the towing capacity to recover vehicles up to 2.8 tonnes, meaning it is capable of recovering up to 90% of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. And, as a 4×4, it can cope with the worst weather conditions the UK experiences.

Fifty RAC Heavy Duty 4×4 Patrol Vans will predominantly be deployed, not to remote outreaches of the British Isles in challenging countryside, but instead to some of the UK’s busiest towns and cities where there is the highest proportion of big vehicles. The Euro 6 van also gives the RAC greater flexibility to deal with recoveries in challenging, congested urban environments where it can be a logistical nightmare for flatbed vehicles to operate.

RAC head of technical James Gibson said:

“The RAC is upgrading its vehicle fleet to meet the challenges presented by modern vehicles and to better serve our members in their moment of need.

“The RAC Heavy Duty 4×4 Patrol van gives our patrols a significantly enhanced capability to recover some of the biggest and heaviest vehicles we encounter including SUVs, 4x4s, EVs and commercial vans.

“We worked close with Isuzu to customise the D-Max to our requirements. As a result it accommodates everything you would find in a conventional RAC patrol van including the Rapid Deployment Trailer, which the All-Wheels-Up recovery system is an extension of, and all the normal parts and tools a patrol requires to repair four out of five vehicles at the roadside.

“Our first-priority is always to deliver a permanent repair at the roadside, however on those occasions when we cannot fix the vehicle then RAC Heavy Duty 4×4 Patrol van will enable our patrols to recover some of the biggest vehicles without the need for a second call-out for a flatbed and the additional time this takes.

“We see it as a game changer which future-proofs our fleet in readiness for a rapid growth in EVs and the ongoing demand for larger SUVs. It also ensures we have the right kit for our business customers.”

William Brown, Managing Director, Isuzu (UK) Ltd said:

“This has been of a fantastic commercial partnership. Working with the brilliant team at the RAC has created this revolutionary concept. It has been an extremely exciting project and together, we have been able to deliver an industry-leading, tailored solution. This demonstrates the capability of the 4×4 Isuzu D-Max and strength of our Fleet Services team.”

The bodyshell of the new van is manufactured by Strongs Plastic Products from tough polymer plastic, delivering optimum strength but also an important and significant weight saving. It has been specifically designed to accommodate all standard RAC equipment, plus the new All-Wheels-Up recovery system, and can be fully recycled at the end of its life. The shell comes with a five-year guarantee and will be used on multiple vehicles during its lifetime, as the RAC upgrades its fleet.

Last month the RAC announced that it has kitted out 600 long-wheel based patrol vans with its new All-Wheels-Up system. The kit enables the patrol to lift all four wheels of broken-down vehicles, helping them to recover more themselves and removing the need to call out an additional recovery vehicle.

This has extended the range of vehicles a patrol van can recover to include many that normally need to be recovered separately – including crossovers, SUVs, 4x4s, pick-ups, vans, automatics, hybrids and even electric vehicles.

The equipment stows easily into the back of a long wheelbase RAC van and can be deployed by a patrol in a fraction of the time it would normally take for a standard recovery truck to arrive potentially saving hundreds of thousands of drivers’ time and stress every year.

The specialist RAC-branded Isuzu D-Max is being proudly displayed by Isuzu at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC this week.