Nationwide Group is Australia’s largest provider of towing, transport and emergency roadside assistance services. It has operations in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA with a workforce of over 600 people. Each year, Nationwide Group moves around 400,000 vehicles, provides emergency roadside assistance to 350,000 customers and stores over 30,000 vehicles nationally. RACV is the majority shareholder of the group. The group is comprised of three companies. Nationwide Towing & Transport operates in the towing and road freight transport industries, providing towing, transport and storage solutions to automotive clubs, state police and road authorities and national and international corporations. Nationwide Roadside Services and Eastern Van Services both operate in the emergency roadside assistance industry, building patrol vans and providing emergency roadside assistance on behalf of leading automotive clubs. Operating for over 30 years, Nationwide leads the industry in safety, quality and technology. It maintains HSEQ certifications its employment and engagement model is focused on fostering innovation. Nationwide has made improvements to its fleet and customer service that have been adopted by its competitors, improving the industry overall.
Nationwide has recently identified traffic congestion as an issue facing the business and the industries it operates in. Population growth has led to increases in both urban density and size across all major cities within Australia, and traffic congestion is increasing in across the country. Traditional recovery vehicless are ill-suited to these conditions. Trucks are larger and slower to accelerate than smaller and lighter vehicles, and the additional weight of trucks contributes significantly to road wear and tear. Recovery vehicles are also unable to access underground and enclosed environments such as car parks and have difficult entering narrow roads and tight corners. To address these issues, Nationwide has worked closely with state road authorities and automotive clubs to develop a solution appropriate for the Australian market. A new product was developed which has been called the Specialised Recovery Vehicle. The prototype was developed using research on products available in international markets. Similar in size and weight to a standard utility vehicle, the SRV can safely access locations traditional recovery vehicles are unable to reach and can also transport vehicles safely to their final destination. Following extensive testing, the Specialised Recovery Vehicle has been tested against Australian Design Rules standards and found to be safe for use on public roads and granted special registration to complete vehicle recovery by VicRoads.
The Specialised Recovery Vehicle offers a towing and transportation vehicle that is smaller, faster and safer than existing vehicles. It costs significantly less to manufacture, register and maintain, uses less fuel and has lower emissions than its larger counterparts. The Specialised Recovery Vehicle developed by Nationwide Group brings together the benefits of existing carpark truck and flat-bed tow truck models to provide a totally unique solution. The Specialised Recovery Vehicle offers a rapid response to customers in difficult locations. It is ideal for recovering vehicles in high speed and other hazardous environments where responsiveness and safety are paramount. Vehicle loading and unloading is faster than with traditional recovery vehicles, and operators can safely load vehicles with far less manual handling than traditional trucks. Importantly, the Specialised Recovery Vehicle provides customers and operators a safer towing vehicle. This vehicle is a revolution in the Australian market and represents the future of towing.
Traditional towing services bring many sustainability challenges. Trucks typically have a high carbon footprint. Unlike traditional tow trucks, the Specialised Recovery Vehicle is similar to a large family vehicle in size, weight and fuel consumption. The vehicle uses the frame and motor of a heavy duty utility vehicle, and Nationwide plans to explore the suitability of battery-powered electric utility vehicles for the SRV’s base. The Specialised Recovery Vehicle also offers a substantial reduction in road wear and tear. Both traffic congestion and heavy vehicles contribute to damage to roads, leading to increased maintenance and reduction in road safety. Because the SRV is lighter and more agile in congested environments, a fleet of SRVs would reduce the impact tow trucks have on both roads and traffic.
Nationwide currently works closely with Australia’s leading automotive clubs to provide towing services. Customers unable to start their vehicles must wait first for emergency roadside assistance and then for a recovery vehicle to transport their vehicle. Using tools installed in the SRV, mechanics can provide assistance with spare tyres, flat batteries, emergency fuel and basic mechanical issues. Because the vehicle can be operated using a standard licence, trained operators could provide end to end services to customers, from emergency assistance to recovery and transportation. Once this plan has been implemented, customers can access emergency roadside assistance and towing services simultaneously. The Specialised Recovery Vehicle has been designed to provide roadside assistance in addition to its towing capabilities.
Nationwide views the Specialised Recovery Vehicle as the future of the towing and roadside assistance industries. Unlike in international markets, emergency roadside assistance and vehicle recovery and transport are separate services within Australia. The Specialised Recovery Vehicle is the first vehicle approved for Australian roads capable of providing end to end solutions for customers with disabled cars. Nationwide expects SRVs to become the primary method of providing emergency roadside assistance and vehicle recovery and transport, replacing current flat-bed trucks. Specialised Recovery Vehicles providing recovery, transport and roadside assistance will have measurable effects on traffic congestion. By combining these services, networks will be improved significantly, the costs associated with providing these services will decrease and customer experience will improve greatly.