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Hybrid driver training course launched

Date: 14 October 2011   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

AA DriveTech has admitted its pioneering training course for fleet drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles is a "leap of faith and a pretty brave thing to do" as the specialist driver training organisation awaits the corporate sector's response to the initiative.

Paul Holmes, AA DriveTech's fleet director, said that while the market for this emerging class of vehicles has "some way to go" before being firmly established it was important that the company supported early adopters to "remain safe and get the best out of their vehicles".

The "mobile A-Team" of six trainers will travel to company locations around Britain to provide a combination of workshop and driving expertise covering 3.5 hours.

Holmes said the course had particular relevance for business drivers whose employers wanted to fulfil their duty of care obligations. A spokesman for AA DriveTech said: "This is a leap of faith as no-one else seemed willing to take that jump."

He emphasised the company's academy committed four staff to research the issues involved over the past nine months, including driving hybrids and electric cars and being briefed by the vehicle makers about operational and servicing issues.

AA DriveTech is not predicting the number of drivers and companies likely to sign up to the scheme and the spokesman conceded: "It might be crazy committing early but major companies, like British Gas and Aeon are putting these cars on their fleets. This is quite different from doing defensive driving. It is not just about avoiding pedestrians unaware that you are driving a virtually silent car.

"There are a lot of driver information systems involved and people must assimilate these and get the most out of this new generation of models. We have contacted our corporate clients so we must wait and see how they respond. It could be argued that we are swimming against the tide of some negative feelings out there in the market. We are big enough and ugly enough to make it work. Someone has to stand up and be counted."

The spokesman said the initiative was a "significant vanguard product" and manufacturers, although "generally co-operative" considered AA DriveTech to be "a little bit detached from their conventional sales and service system. But they recognise there is a need for people to have additional training and understanding".

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