RAC Limited (The RAC) is a British automotive services company headquartered in Walsall, West Midlands. Its principal services are roadside assistance and general insurance, and its subsidiaries include RAC Motoring Services Ltd, RAC Financial Services Ltd and RAC Insurance Limited.
The RAC's main competitors are The AA and Green Flag.
The Royal Automobile Club was formed in 1897 by Frederick Richard Simms, which set up an "associate section" to provide members roadside assistance and motoring services. The club incorporated the associate section as R.A.C. Motoring Services Ltd. in 1978. In 1987, the organisation introduced an "Advanced Computer Aided Rescue System".
In 1991, it established the RAC Foundation as its research arm. The RAC Foundation was later turned into a charity, and received a legacy from Royal Automobile Club members when R.A.C. Motoring Services Ltd. was later sold. British School of Motoring (BSM) was purchased by R.A.C. Motoring Services Ltd. in December 1998.
In September 1999, R.A.C. Motoring Services was sold by the members of the Royal Automobile Club to Lex Service for £437m in 1999, resulting in a £34,000 windfall for each of the 12,000 members, as well as a £1000 payment to each of the 4000 RAC Motoring Services staff.
Lex Service renamed themselves RAC plc in 2002. In October 2000, RAC purchased I/CAD from Intergraph to provide advanced graphical command and control capabilities.
The National Customer Service Awards' recognized the system with the 'Best Use of Technology in Customer Service' award in October 2004.
Aviva acquired RAC plc for around £1.1 billion in March 2005. They went on to raise around £500m from selling some parts of the business, such as RAC Auto Windscreens in December 2008, and BSM to a German company in January 2009. BSM has since been sold to Acromas Holdings which owns The Automobile Association.
Aviva ceased providing loans under the RAC brand name in January 2008, and dissolved its partnership with The Co-operative Bank.
Aviva sold the RAC to The Carlyle Group in June 2011. Although Carlyle had planned a stock market flotation for the RAC, in September 2014, Carlyle agreed to sell almost half its stake to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Limited. In December 2015, Carlyle agreed to sell its remaining stake to CVC Capital Partners, in an transaction valuing the RAC at £1.4 billion.