Drivers are being left stranded as an increasing number of manufacturers are ditching spare wheels in a quest to lower emissions.
This is according to research carried out by the RAC, which found that of the 300 car models it looked at, only eight (2.6 percent) came with a spare wheel. As manufacturers come under pressure to reduce emissions, the removal of a spare wheel could save up to 20kg of weight, increasing fuel efficiency.
The company says this is having a “stark effect” on breakdown call-out volumes, with patrols attending 200,000 jobs last year where drivers had a puncture but no spare wheel. This is up from 165,000 cases four years earlier.
The situation is unlikely to improve in the age of electric cars, with such vehicles using the space previously reserved for a spare wheel to accommodate a battery pack.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Getting a puncture on a journey has to be one of the most irritating breakdowns for drivers, especially if it’s as a result of hitting one of the plethora of potholes that currently characterise so many of our roads.
“In the past, a driver could have reached for the spare wheel in the boot but this new analysis shows that these are now pretty much a thing of the past, with a minuscule number of new cars sold in the UK coming with one as standard.
“It’s understandable therefore that drivers are increasingly calling on us to help them out of a tight spot, and it’s a trend we fully expect to continue as electric vehicles are even less likely to come with a spare.
“Fortunately, we’re continuing to innovate to ensure our members get the best service possible should they breakdown as a result of a puncture, having just rolled out a four-stud version of our pioneering multi-fit spare wheel, that’s carried by every single one of our patrols.
“Interestingly, in many cases drivers ordering a new car can still buy a spare wheel – whether that’s a full-size one or the more common lightweight ‘space saver’ type – as an optional extra. This might turn out to be a wise investment if you are one of the many drivers who unfortunately suffers a puncture.”