Rescue team use electric powered car in bid to reduce emissions

Surrey Search & Rescue is the first search and rescue (SAR) team in the country to start using the new mild-hybrid variant of the Volvo XC90. The initial response vehicle (IRV) will operate 24/7/365, attending emergencies across the county.

Equipped with a laptop and printer, the vehicle will operate as an initial command unit before the team’s dedicated control van arrives on scene. It also carries one of the team’s drones fitted with a thermal camera and the streaming equipment to send the live footage back to police and fire control rooms. Capable of towing Surrey Search & Rescue’s boats, it will also attend flooding incidents across the country as part of DEFRA’s National Flood Response.

The charity, staffed completely by unpaid crews, deploys to urgent calls for assistance to Surrey Police for vulnerable missing person searches and has already responded to 149 requests in 2020.

The mild-hybrid vehicle takes a conventional combustion engine and adds a small electric motor, generating power solely through regenerative braking. The electric motor is never used to power the vehicle on its own, instead it provides support to its traditional combustion engine in delivering up to 15% more efficiency and 15% fewer emissions. The ‘authorities spec’ 2.0-litre B5 diesel engine produces 235hp and works with the 48V battery and a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that improves acceleration to the all-wheel drive system.

With 90% of the cost of the vehicle funded by the Department for Transport and the final 10% from South Western Railway, many other companies supported the completion of the project: Apollo Tyres sponsored the grip and livery; Panorama Antennas donated VHF/GPS/4G/Wi-Fi aerials; Brodit sent all the dashboard kit clips; Vantrue provided a three-camera HD dashcam setup; and TomTom donated a satnav with a remote RVP update system.

Séamus Kearns, Head of Operations for Surrey SAR, said, “We are very excited to be the first to use an electric-hybrid frontline rescue vehicle. It will respond to incidents as well as helping to reduce our emissions. Also, by reducing our emissions, we will be contributing to the improvement of the county’s air quality. Thank you very much to all the donors and supporters who helped to deliver this new capability.”