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Lead the Charge: Making Electric Vehicle Charge-Points Accessible

| Other Disability News
Lead the Charge: Making Electric Vehicle Charge-Points Accessible

In the next few years, thousands of UK consumers will switch to electric vehicles (EV) due to the phase-out of sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. With over 2.35 million vehicle drivers and passengers entitled to the blue badge parking scheme, it is expected that 1.35 million disabled consumers will be partially or completely dependent on public charge points. Therefore, it is important to advocate for a more accessible EV charging infrastructure for disabled drivers.

Among other barriers highlighted by the Department for Transport in their report ‘Electric Vehicle Adoption for Disabled Consumers 2022’, like higher upfront costs of purchase or lease of an EV, insufficient range of accessible vehicles, lack of knowledge about electric vehicles, there is also the question of charge points being adequately accessible to disabled drivers and passengers. In fact, a lack of accessible charging infrastructure has been continuously highlighted as the biggest barrier for disabled drivers to transition to an EV.

What are the main barriers to accessible EV charging infrastructure?

There are many barriers to using an EV for disabled and elderly people, from removing the charge cables from the car to opening the charge flap and plugging in. These barriers highlight several challenges for people with different types of disabilities, including mobility, sight and learning disabilities, and need to be tackled in the design process. Some of them are:

  • Scarcity of all charge points, specifically accessible charge points
  • Safety, lighting and space around the charging bays
  • Manoeuvring and lifting heavy cables from the boot to connect to the charger
  • Unreachable connection points
Accessible EV charging.
Picture Credit: Motability

How Can EV Charging Be Made More Inclusive?

Through an inclusive approach, vehicle manufacturers, adaptation specialist companies, disabled drivers and key decision-makers can work together to make EV charging more accessible. Solutions such as sufficient parking space for disabled drivers to move easily, well-lit and unobstructed charging stations, weather-friendly screens at accessible heights and lighter and less complicated cables can make the EV charging experience easier for everyone.

On 11 October 2022, the British Standards Institute (BSI) put forth a set of accessible charge point standards, PAS 1899:2022. Co-sponsored by Motability and the UK Government’s Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV), this standard gives designers, procurers, manufacturers and installers guidance on how to create accessible EV charging infrastructure. This can also help owners and operators to evaluate existing charge points.

Some solutions are already being explored. For instance, in 2017, Urban Foresight was awarded awarded £3 million to develop pop-up EV chargers that rise out of the pavement and are less intrusive and therefore easier to navigate than traditional chargers.

More Information About EV Charge Points

Interested in installing a charge point near you? At this point, only local authorities are eligible to apply for the on-street residential charge point scheme (ORCS) so please check your local authority’s website  to register your interest. 

Final thoughts

Aside from higher upfront costs or an inadequate range of electric vehicles accessible to the disabled and the elderly various steps in the charging process pose a significant challenge. These may include removing the charging cable from the car, inserting it into a charge point positioned too high, or navigating between the car and the charger. As the EV revolution takes shape, it is important to accelerate innovation and overcome barriers towards a more inclusive adoption of electric vehicles. What’s more, with the UK sales of new petrol and diesel cars due to end by 2030 as well as an ageing population, these demands for accessible design must be met timely.

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