With 120 years of history under its belt helping and supporting motorists, few of its members are truly aware of the history of the RAC. Founded in 1897, the company has always been at the forefront of motoring services and has a rich history in introducing innovative technology to assist its members.
Frederick Richard Simms, an engineer passionate about campaigning for the rights of the private motorist founded the company with Charles Harrington Moore as the Automobile Club of Great Britain. A true motor industry pioneer, he was a mechanical engineer, businessman and a prolific inventor; a passion that can still be felt in the organisation to this day. Royal approval was granted in 1907 by Edward VII and so it became the Royal Automobile Club.
Originally there was a single division focused on providing roadside assistance, which in 1978 was incorporated as R.A.C. Motoring Services Ltd. This division became the company that we know and many Jamjar customers rely on to this day. The business was purchased by Lex Service Plc in 1999 and then changed hands again in 2005 when Aviva Plc acquired the organisation. In June 2011, Aviva, the British insurer, sold the company for £1bn to private equity firm Carlyle.
Key innovations over the years include; introducing uniformed patrols in 1901, roadside emergency telephone boxes in 1912, introducing the “Advanced Computer Aided Rescue System” in 1987 and being the first organisation to introduce flexible hours for its patrol force in 1999. And the developments have continued in recent years too; in 2000 the rapid deployed trailer was developed to enable tows to be given by patrol cars reducing the need for contractors and in 2014 a new remote charger was launched for electric vehicles.
Today, the RAC are leaders in the development of Telematics and remote vehicle diagnostics. As well as the classic roadside assistance model, members also have access to continually updated legal and technical advice, insurance services and up-to-the-minute travel information. They also continue to campaign to support motorists; in 2015 their Fuel Watch campaign was launched to bring greater transparency to the fuel market with the aim to get a fairer reflection of wholesale fuel prices at the pump.