A host of MPs and leading industry figures attended a parliamentary reception hosted by Motability, the charity, to learn more about how public electric vehicle (EV) charging can be made accessible to disabled people.
The House of Commons reception was held to mark the launch of the new British Standards Institute (BSI) standard for accessible electric vehicle charging. Attendees included Tom Pursglove MP, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work.
The world-leading standard, sponsored by Motability and the UK Government Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), sets out best-practice for making public electric vehicle charge points accessible to all.
To accompany this Motability has also partnered with Designability, the national charity that enables disabled people to live with greater independence, to produce freely available design guidance for industry. This can be seen here.
Guests at the event were able to test new charging unit prototypes produced by Designability. These prototypes, which were developed directly with disabled people through comprehensive step-by-step testing, are examples of how even small changes to designs can make electric car charging more accessible.
Research commissioned by Motability estimates there will be 2.7 million disabled drivers in the UK in 2035. Of these, it is estimated up to 1.35 million, or 50 per cent, will be at least wholly or partially reliant on public charging infrastructure, meaning they will need to charge their vehicle away from home.
With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars due to end in 2030, Motability wants to ensure disabled people are not left behind by this transition. Motability has conducted extensive research to understand the barriers disabled people face when using electric vehicle charge points.
These barriers include the weight of charging cables, the force required to attach the connector, the lack of dropped kerbs around charge points and unsuitable parking arrangements.
The BSI standard contains the best available evidence on making electric vehicle charging accessible. Disabled people were involved at every stage of the development of the standard.
The steering group that informed it included representation from disabled people, disabled people’s organisations, disability charities, industry bodies, transport agencies, representatives from central government and devolved administrations and charge point providers.
If designed inclusively from the beginning, Motability’s understanding from engagement with the industry is that manufacturing accessible charging points should not be any more expensive. There is also a commercial case for accessibility. Making charge points accessible now will mean they could be open to the 2.7 million disabled drivers that the UK is estimated to have by 2035.
Making charge points accessible can also benefit everyone, especially older people and those with young children. The standard also covers good practice guidance for improving safety around charge points, such as the provision of lighting and security cameras.
The Government is providing a number of funding streams to support the transition to zero emission vehicles. It is estimated the UK may need 300,000 public charge points to successfully transition to electric vehicles. Available funding includes the £950 million rapid charging fund for motorways and major A-road service areas and the £450 million local electric vehicle infrastructure (LEVI) scheme for local authorities and partnerships.
Barry Le Grys, Motability CEO, said: “It was great to be able to meet so many MPs, thought leaders and industry experts to highlight the work Motability and our partners have been doing on accessible EV charging.
“We identified a real risk that disabled people could be left behind by the UK’s transition to electric vehicles, and want to ensure this does not happen.
“Through our partnership, the UK now has a world-leading standard which will aid providers in developing accessible infrastructure at a pace which is fit for the future.
“We’ve also sponsored design guidance to help industry make accessible charging a reality. Going forward we are keen to explore ways to ensure compliance with the new standard so that electric vehicle charging can be truly accessible for all.”
Catharine Brown, Designability chief executive, said: “The BSI standard and our accompanying Design Guidance will help ensure the roll-out of the public EV charging infrastructure is future-proofed, avoiding costly retrofit, and is accessible to all.
“We have directly engaged with disabled EV drivers and passengers to fully understand the challenges they face, and have presented our findings and guidance in a clear and illustrative way to inspire and help charge point designers, manufactures and procurers to see what good inclusive design looks like.”