header image

New freewheeling hub transforms roadside rescue for electric vehicles and 4x4s

Better, Faster, Safer Roadside Assistance

AE Oscroft, the Midlands-based presswork and prototyping specialist, has partnered with the AA to develop a game-changing innovation – one that will transform breakdown service for thousands of drivers.

The new freewheeling hub is a new way for AA patrols to safely tow vehicles that can’t normally be ‘lifted’ and towed on two wheels

Previously, it was impossible to tow some vehicles with seized brakes, failed wheel bearings, or electric handbrakes – as well as 4x4s or many electric vehicles (EVs). Some manufacturers recommend EVs not be towed because the car’s motor is always mechanically connected to the wheels and doesn’t have a true ‘neutral’ gear. This means they typically require flatbed recovery vehicles when they break down – which is time-consuming and expensive.

This innovation from the AA and AE Oscroft solves the problem

The freewheeling hub is a significant advancement in roadside rescue, as one in five breakdowns involve 4x4s or heavier vehicles.

Patrols can fix the freewheeling hub to the rear wheels of stricken vehicles so they can be towed by a standard van rather than having to wait for a flatbed recovery vehicle. The freewheeling hub has its own high-speed bearing, enabling the wheel to turn independently from the car. It works in conjunction with the Multi-Fit wheel and a new heavy-duty Multi-Fit wheel for larger vehicles, both of which were developed with AE Oscroft. 

As a result, AA patrols can fit a temporary spare wheel to almost any vehicle and then tow it away. This reduces potential delays for drivers and gets them on their way sooner.

The freewheeling hub has many benefits

  • Quicker recovery: EVs, 4x4s, and vehicles with certain issues can now be towed by standard patrol vans instead of having to wait for specialist recovery trucks. Plus, the new heavy-duty Multi-Fit wheel allows the broken-down vehicle to be towed at a faster speed of 50 mph
  • Increased safety: Less time at the roadside is safer for drivers and recovery teams
  • Lower emissions: The innovation allows the AA to streamline its fleet and reduce its reliance on higher-emission flatbed vehicles. It’s also lightweight, helping optimise the fuel efficiency of AA patrol vans

Chris Oscroft, Managing Director of AE Oscroft, said: “This was a true collaboration between AE Oscroft and the AA. We took the AA’s concept created by AA Chief Engineer Steve Ives and developed it into a workable, cost-efficient solution that will make roadside assistance faster and safer for so many people. This success shows what we can achieve when inventors, engineers, prototyping, and production work together.”

James Hosking, AA Roadside Chief Operating Officer, said: “We tasked the team to come up with a cleaner, safer, smarter solution to towing certain categories of vehicle. This fantastic innovation will help to future-proof our service and rescue customers more quickly than our competitors.”  

This innovation builds on AE Oscroft’s ongoing successful partnership with the AA. The original Multi-Fit wheel – which AE Oscroft developed and AA launched in 2016 – fits 90% of vehicles and is an essential tool in AA patrol vans. The new freewheeling hub and heavy-duty Multi-Fit wheel are being piloted by 200 patrols and will be rolled out to all patrols in the coming months.

The original Multi-Fit wheel fits 95% of vehicles and is an essential tool in AA patrol vans

Midlands-based AE Oscroft is an expert in presswork, prototyping, welding, tooling and bespoke metalforming solutions. For more than 70 years, it’s provided specialist services for supply chains across automotive, rail, construction, industrial, medical devices and more. The company is known for its value-add approach and extensive plant range, which includes a 630te DSF MXC Progression Servo Press. 

Press contact: Chris Oscroft, c.oscroft@aeoscroft.co.uk, 01527 502 203 Image: The freewheeling hub alongside the AA’s Multi-Fit wheel