The Flemish VAB Mobility Club is also one of Belgium’s largest road assistance providers. While it integrates BEVs in its rolling infrastructure, the road assistants see themselves confronted with more breakdowns on BEVs than the average with vehicles with internal combustion engines.
The reasons, however, are not what people would normally expect with electric vehicles, like a battery that is completely empty or problems with the software. On the contrary, the most frequently encountered breakdowns are problems with the tires and empty 12V batteries, providing the car’s accessories with power.
BEVs are heavy vehicles, and their motors are powerful and have loads of torque. All these factors negatively influence the shape and wear of the tires, especially when the drivers are using the car’s potential fully.
An additional problem is towing an EV. Most manufacturers have specific instructions for towing or pushing an electric vehicle. When driven wheels revolve through towing, the turning wheels generate electricity, which can damage the motors or other parts.
Manufactuers, therefore, limit the distance an EV can be towed (up to a few kilometers) and also the speed at which this can happen. Some even indicate that this can not be at more than 15 kph.
If the EV is only front- or rear-wheel drive, there is no acute problem; the driven wheels can be jacked up, and the car can roll behind a towing vehicle. But many electric cars have two motors, each one driving a pair of wheels, and then it’s necessary to put the car on a truck or a towing platform to move it to the repair shop.
More breakdowns with ICE cars too
The venue of electric cars into the market has created an additional problem of breakdowns too. In this transition period, people (especially individual buyers) are hesitating about what to buy, so they stick to their old ICE car or still buy a second-hand one.
A direct result is that the average age of the car park in Belgium has increased by five months to nine years and nine months in a short period. Older cars have more breakdowns, so here also, road assistance providers have to do more interventions than in the past years.
Electric intervention vehicles
The newly met problems with road assistance for EVs haven’t scared the VAB to invest in the electric future. The mobility club has already added EVs to its fleet of replacement cars (mainly Polestar 2). VAB’s driving schools already have electric cars in the offering (Cupra Born) to get accustomed to driving an EV.
Just recently, VAB introduced the first fully electric intervention vehicles in its fleet, specially adapted Volkswagen ID. Buzz vans. The ID. Buzz EVs will not be reserved for special tasks, but they will hit the road, as of September, for all sorts of interventions, on electric vehicles or ICE cars alike.