A gathering of MPs and leading industry figures has 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, which took place on Monday 21 November, was held to mark the launch of new British Standards Institute (BSI) standard for accessible EV 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 EV charge points accessible to all.
“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,” said Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive Officer at Motability.
“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 pace which is fit for the future.”
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.
Guests at the event were able to test new charging unit prototypes produced by Designability. These prototypes, developed directly with disabled people through comprehensive step-by-step testing, are examples of how even small changes to designs can make EV charging more accessible.
“We have directly engaged with disabled EV drivers and passengers to fully understand the challenges they face,” said Catharine , Chief Executive of Designability, “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.”
The reception marked the launch of a new BSI standard for accessible EV charging.
“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,” Brown continued.
Indeed, 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%, will be at least wholly or partially reliant on public charging infrastructure, meaning they will need to charge their vehicle away from home.
Motability has conducted extensive research, including the findings of a previous Zap-Map EV charging survey, to understand the barriers disabled people face when using EV charge points. These include 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 EV charging accessible, with disabled people 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 from devolved administrations, and charge point providers.
If designed inclusively from the beginning, Motability’s understanding from engagement with industry is that manufacturing accessible charging points should not be any more expensive.
And there is of course a commercial case for accessibility too – 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.