Motability partners with Designability for accessible EV charging

Motability Operations partners with Zapmap to trial public charging accessibility


Motability Operations, which runs the Motability Scheme that enables disabled people to lease a new vehicle, has partnered with Zapmap to undertake a three-month trial of the app and the charging infrastructure it maps.

The aim of the trial is to assess the experience of charging an electric vehicle (EV) for disabled people on the UK’s public charging network – and how it can be improved.

Over 250 Motability Operations customers have signed up for the trial, which is now underway and runs for a three-month period.

Half of the Motability Operations customers who have signed up are trialling the free version of the Zapmap app, which provides access to the app’s core search, plan and pay services.

The other half are trialling Zapmap Premium, which enables in-car support with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, alongside other enhanced features. This means you can locate suitable charge points, view live charge point status and access route plans while on the move. Zapmap Premium is targeted at drivers who regularly use the public charging network, allowing them to save time while out and about.

Until now, the focus on the UK’s public charging infrastructure has necessarily been on the availability of charging points. However, the purpose of the trial is to shift the focus of EV charging from availability to accessibility. The trial also hopes to give Motability Operations customers a voice in the EV space, as well as to recognise what the current situation is for disabled drivers with an EV.

One aspect of the trial is to understand how to make the Zapmap app itself more accessible for disabled users. Zapmap is keen to ensure the app is accessible to all, and feedback from Motability Operations customers involved in the trial will be invaluable in helping to make this a reality.

The second aspect of the trial is around the physical experience of public charging. In 2020, Zapmap and the Motability charity polled over 2,000 EV drivers on their experiences of using Britain’s charging network. The survey asked respondents if they considered themselves to have a disability, and about the challenges they face while charging their electric vehicles.

The results found that, at the time, a third of disabled people surveyed had difficulties locating a suitable charger that could meet their needs, with one in seven noting their very specific challenges with the weight of charging cables. The survey also revealed that some users experienced difficulties with the force required to attach the connector, the lack of dropped kerbs around charge points, and unsuitable parking arrangements.

“With the UK’s public charging infrastructure growing fast, we must ensure that electric vehicle charging is accessible to all drivers, including disabled people,” said Melanie Shufflebotham, Zapmap Co-founder & COO.

“That’s exactly why Zapmap has partnered with Motability Operations in order to trial both the app and the physical charging points it maps. With people increasingly making the switch to electric vehicles, it’s critical that no-one is left behind.”

The current trial is an opportunity to see whether the accessibility of charge points has improved – if at all – and to understand what can be done to make EV charging in the UK easier for disabled people.

“We envision a future where Motability Scheme customers can confidently embark on any journey in an electric vehicle, knowing that they will be able to charge when they need to,” said Jonathan Jenkins, Head of Innovation at Motability Operations.

“We’re pleased to be engaging with companies like Zapmap, who value the importance of accessibility in the transition to EVs.”