The British Standards Institution (BSI) in its role as the national standards body (NSB) has published an accessible electric vehicle charging standard to ensure accessibility for all. It has launched PAS 1899:2022, Electric vehicles – Accessible charging – Specification. This is sponsored by the UK Government and the charity Motability.
With the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans due to end in 2030, demand for electric vehicle (EV) charging throughout the UK is set to increase. The UK Government has announced a wide range of measures to address this, most recently the new Growth Plan 2022 which will accelerate two innovative EV infrastructure projects; the Local EV Infrastructure Fund and the Rapid Charging Fund.
However, disabled drivers, passengers and pedestrians have experienced accessibility issues when using public charging points. In response to these challenges, in 2021 Motability and the UK Government formed a partnership to co-sponsor a new accessibility standard for public EV charging points, PAS 1899.
The new standard will help procurers of public charging points ensure that charging an EV, including the physical infrastructure and experience of accessing and using a charge point to charge a vehicle, is accessible for all users, including disabled people.
Disabled and older people can face a range of difficulties when attempting to use public EV charging points. These include charging units being of a height unsuitable for wheelchair users, charging cables which are too heavy to lift, and connectors that require a high level of force to use. Plus, features of the streetscape such as the size of the parking bay or the height of the kerb can also prove challenging.
Motability’s research also found that by 2035 there will be 2.7 million disabled drivers in the UK, with up to half, around 1.35 million, reliant on public EV charging points. Consequently, it’s of paramount importance that public charging points are accessible to everyone. Embedding good practice and encouraging providers to think about inclusive design from the start of the planning process is key to achieving this.
This is great news for disabled and elderly drivers who often struggle with infrastructure when trying to charge their electric cars. This is much needed and its important that this is built in now as we move from the early stages of electric vehicle use to mass use over the coming decade.
Scott Steedman, Standards at BSI director-general, said: “This new standard will help ensure that charging point providers and procurers can anticipate and remove any obstacles that could prevent a user from making full and independent use of the charging point.
“No one should be left behind as we transition towards a net-zero economy, and by ensuring that as many people as possible can make use of electric vehicles, we increase the UK’s chances of reaching ambitious net-zero goals as well as ensuring that the transition is one that is just and inclusive.
“Throughout this transition, BSI will continue to convene industry, government, research groups, and consumers to create positive change for society.”
Lucy Frazer, Transport Minister, said: “We want everyone to be able to make the switch to electric vehicles as we look to make transport cleaner and meet our climate targets. That means all drivers need to be able to easily find public charge points which are at an accessible height and have adequate space for disabled users.
“This new Government-backed standard will help the industry to create and install charge points that everyone can use easily, making the experience better and fairer for disabled people across the UK.”
Barry Le Grys MBE, Motability CEO, said: “We are proud to have co-sponsored this world-leading accessibility standard. Motability’s research has shown that half of disabled people will be reliant on public EV charging by 2035.
“Currently, they face a host of problems using existing public charging infrastructure. If this does not change, there is a real risk that disabled people will be left behind in the UK’s transition to electric vehicles.
“This standard will aid providers in developing new infrastructure at pace which is fit for the future. 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.”
PAS 1899 contains the best available evidence on making EV charging accessible for disabled people, covering specifications such as:
1. The physical aspects of the environment surrounding fixed charge points (e.g. kerb height, ground type).
2. The location, placement and spacing of charge points within the streetscape and relative to other infrastructure and/or objects.
3. Factors to be taken account of in the design of accessible charge points and their immediate surrounding areas. This includes height of the chargepoint, cables and cable management systems, bollard spacing, interface tilt, colours used, accessibility of language within communications, weight and ease of use of the equipment.
Disabled people were involved at every stage of the development of the standard. The steering group that informed the standard included representation from disabled people, disabled people’s organisations, disability charities, industry bodies, transport agencies, representatives from central government and from devolved administrations and chargepoint providers.