With almost 100 years of history behind us, we have a proud South African heritage.
Take a journey back in time with us and discover the milestone moments that allowed us to evolve and grow to ultimately become South Africa’s most trusted roadside rescue partner.
Born in the Friendly City at the turn of the Century
In order to protect and promote the interests of motorists in South Africa, several provincial and other motoring clubs formed what would become the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), at a meeting in Port Elizabeth on 23 October 1901.
A royal affair
Following the auspicious meeting in Port Elizabeth, several other motoring clubs and organisations began to spring up around the country. In 1911, following the visit of the Duke of Connaught to open the first Union parliament, the original Cape Town based Automobile Club of SA received a royal charter and became known as the Royal Automobile Club of South Africa. This club was taken over by the AA in 1965, after a fruitful existence of 64 years.
From the FAC to the AA
The nation-wide Federation of Automobile Clubs (FAC) was formed in 1923 to coordinate and provide greater impetus to the interests of motorists. However, the FAC did not fully succeed in its mandate of coordinating and facilitating the interests of motorists and dealing with councils, municipalities and government. In January 1930 the FAC was liquidated and reconstituted into the Automobile Association of SA. With the adoption of centralised control in 1934, the final improvement in the AA’s effectiveness was brought about.
Petrol price and motoring regulation
From 1938 to 1948, the AA lobbied for control and pricing of petrol and national motoring regulation. After a long battle with the South African railways, an oil pipeline to the Reef was finally established in 1963. Without the organization’s great efforts, this would never have been accomplished so soon.
From 1955 to 1965, in just a decade, AA Membership grew from 100 000 to 250 000 Members. This figure once again rocketed to 675 000 in 1980.
Mandatory adoption of the seatbelt
In 1978, the AA began studying fuel consumption and alternative fuel and played a massive part in the mandatory adoption of the seatbelt.
New millennium, new milestones
In 2000, the AA Club Assist Battery Services and the AA National Call Centre were launched. A separate operations building was opened in Midrand in April 2006, and in June of the same year, the AA established its own towing fleet. Additionally, the AA Technical Training Academy was opened in Johannesburg.
In 2007, the Cape Town based AA Technical College was established. A separate Legal and Technical Call Centre advice service was launched. The AA also hosted the very first FIA conference to be held outside Europe.
The AA welcomed their first female Managing Director in 2008, the same year the AA launched their Inbound Travel division. That August, the organization acquired 24 extra tow trucks of which one had the capacity to tow and carry bigger vehicles such as trucks.
January 2009 saw services expand to include Bloemfontein. In March that year, the AA launched their first motorbike fleet in Gauteng. Another operational site was opened to host 40% of the AA’s fleet, reducing travel times and fuel costs.
The AA celebrated its 80th birthday in 2010 and employed the first female Road Patrol and tow truck driver. The 100th AA board meeting was also held in March.
In 2015, the AA launched a Designated Driver service to get Members home safely after a night of drinking, and in 2018, launched the AA App, giving Members one-click access to roadside rescue and emergency medical services.
Our range of motoring services has grown extensively to include technical advice, motor-related legal advice, insurance, driver training, as well as travel advice.
At the heart of the AA, however, will always be our mission to empower road users and add value to their lives.