RAC Report on Motoring 2022

Foreword from Dave Hobday, RAC Chief Executive

As the UK emerges from the coronavirus pandemic that has dominated the last two years, 2022 has brought a new set of challenges shaped by rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis affecting every household. This is very clearly laid bare in this year’s RAC Report on Motoring, where the high cost of fuel is now the biggest overall concern for drivers.

With a tank of both petrol and diesel both exceeding £100 for the first time ever, drivers are having to make difficult choices about how they use their vehicles as well as when to change them. It is also a concern that the impact of high fuel prices is causing people, particularly younger drivers, to put off getting their cars serviced and having minor repairs done. Regular servicing and maintenance are vital for ensuring vehicles stay in the best possible condition – something which is even more important as this year’s data shows drivers are holding on to their cars for longer than ever.

In a bid to simplify servicing we are bringing the garage to drivers by launching RAC Mobile Mechanics who can conveniently service and repair customers’ cars at their homes or workplaces. This is in addition to our network of more than 700 RAC approved garages which repair and maintain our members’ vehicles to the highest standards. With this year’s research also showing a greater propensity for drivers to use apps and websites to manage their motoring lives, we are making sure all our services can be easily accessed this way.

Given the worries about the running costs of petrol and diesel vehicles, it’s perhaps not surprising that interest in electric vehicles has increased again this year. This summer we saw the number of new pure electric vehicles registered exceed half a million and growth is only going to continue ahead of the Government’s 2030 deadline to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Alongside this, it’s vital we have a network of reliable, fast and easy-to-use public charge points to ensure all drivers can fully embrace the new era of zero-tailpipe emission car use. To help EV drivers save money when using the fastest public chargers, we have launched RAC Charge Watch to keep an eye on how prices change over time.

We are proud that this year we became the UK’s first major breakdown organisation to introduce an all-electric patrol van to our fleet, cementing our position at the forefront of technological innovation in roadside assistance. We have also increased the number of patrol vans fitted with even faster EV Boost emergency charge units which are designed to get flat or severely depleted EVs going again.

This change to how our vehicles are powered will bring other challenges like how we pay for using our roads as traditional forms of taxation such as fuel duty decline in the long-term. This year’s Report looks closely at options to replace fuel duty and finds drivers are split on how this should be done. The Government should engage with the sector on this and the RAC stands ready to share drivers’ views on the issue and work with the Treasury to identify the most suitable new system.  

Whatever new system we end up with we are keen a proportion of this is ring-fenced for roads as drivers remain incredibly exasperated by the poor condition of the local road network. In 2021, the RAC recorded more than 10,000 pothole-related breakdowns many of which would have led to costly repairs for our members. It’s vital that roads authorities have the tools and the finances to get on top of the problem, so we urge the Government to make this a priority.

While times on the road are both challenging and changing, this year’s Report shows that drivers continue to depend on their vehicles which is why we remain focussed on providing them with complete peace of mind for all their driving needs.

Throughout the RAC’s 125-year history we have consistently innovated to help our members and now with more tools than ever before at our disposal – digital, technology and data – we are in a position to make every driver’s life easier right from the palm of their hand. We can help them save money through cost-of-living crisis, navigate the exciting but complex world of EVs, provide simple, convenient access to servicing and repairs, report a breakdown, and much more. Watch this space.