Redditch manufacturer seals deal with the AA to transform roadside rescue with new freewheeling hub

Featured Manufacturing

A leading presswork and prototyping specialist has joined forces with the AA to develop a game-changing innovation that will transform the breakdown service for thousands of drivers.

AE Oscroft, which employs 50 people at its Washford Industrial Estate in Redditch, has used its engineering expertise to create a new freewheeling hub that allow patrols to safely tow vehicles that can’t normally be ‘lifted and towed’ on two wheels, including 4x4s and the increasing number of electric vehicles in the UK.

Recovery professionals can fix the 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, increasing the speed of response and reducing the time motorists are left stranded on busy roads and motorways.

The new innovation has its own high-speed bearing, enabling the wheel to turn independently from the car and works in conjunction with the standard and heavy-duty Multi-fit wheel for larger vehicles.

AE Oscroft, which has recruited two new engineers to cope with expected volumes, is manufacturing 1850 sets for the AA as part of its first order, with significant opportunities being explored to export the technology to customers in the EU, UAE and the US.

“This was a true collaboration between our business and the AA,” explained Chris Oscroft, Managing Director of AE Oscroft.

“We took the 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 all work together.”

James Hosking, AA Roadside Chief Operating Officer – Roadside, added his support: “AE Oscroft were tasked with coming up with a cleaner, safer, smarter solution to towing certain categories of vehicle. This fantastic innovation will help to futureproof our service and, importantly, rescue customers more quickly than our competitors.”  

This latest innovation builds on the manufacturer’s successful partnership with the AA, dating back to the development of the original Multi-fit wheel that was launched in 2016 and fits 90% of cars which don’t come with a spare as standard.

The new freewheeling hub and heavy-duty Multi-fit wheel roll-out is in the final stages and will be completed shortly.

It has many benefits, including:

  • 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. In addition, 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 means it is safer for both drivers and recovery teams
  • Lower emissions: The innovation allows the AA to reduce its reliance on higher-emission flatbed vehicles. It is also lightweight, helping optimise the fuel efficiency of patrol vans.