Improving EV Charging Accessibility
The current lack of accessibility across the EV charging network has already been highlighted as a key challenge for disabled drivers. With the sale of petrol and diesel engine vehicles set to end in 2030, Motability is focussing its attention on EV charging point accessibility to make sure disabled people are not left behind.
With an estimated one in five people in the UK living currently with a disability, Motability’s research estimates that by 2035 there will be 2.7 million disabled drivers or passengers, with around 1.35 million people expected to be partially or exclusively dependent on the public charging infrastructure (because by of a lack of home off street parking).
A recent report by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) tested the experiences of drivers with a disability who already drive an EV, which identified a range of specific issues linked to EV charging design, including high kerbs, insufficient space for wheelchair users around charge points and heavy and cumbersome charging cables.
In the race to ensure the UK is as inclusive as possible by the 2030 deadline, Motability has awarded grant funding to Designability, with the two charities now working together to increase the accessibility of the UK’s EV charging infrastructure. Designability researchers, designers and engineers will work in tandem with Motability discover what best practice could look like for future EV charge point design.
Catherine Marris, Innovation Lead at Motability, said:
“Our research has found that current EV charging points have not been designed with the needs of people living with disabilities in mind, and it’s imperative that they’re included in this future shift. Given the high cost of retrofitting major infrastructure, there is a robust commercial and social case for building in accessibility now to ensure that the transition is inclusive for everyone.
“We have joined forces with Designability as their objectives align closely to our own, and they’re experts in the field of user-centred design and product creation to increase independence for disabled people. As a world-leading project, we are determined to work towards ensuring that future charging infrastructure is inclusive and accessible for anyone living with disabilities.
“One of our charity’s key priorities is to work with industry and Government to amplify the voices of disabled people in the transport system and innovate solutions to charge point accessibility challenges. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please get in touch.”
Catharine Brown, Chief Executive at Designability, added:
“This is an exciting new project for Designability. Our expertise in working with disabled people makes us perfectly placed to find solutions to these everyday challenges – which will only increase as more people want to drive electric cars. It is shocking that the needs of disabled people have not been taken into account as this new technology becomes mainstream, and we are delighted to extend our relationship with Motability to create cutting edge design solutions.
“For over 50 years, we have listened to disabled people describe their challenges and created innovative products which help them to live the life they choose. This project will enable us to have an impact on the lives of millions of disabled drivers for many years to come.”
Working To Ensure That EV's Are An Option For All
The project - which started in January this year - aims to understand where design solutions can improve accessibility. By working closely with disabled people, the team hope to be able to clearly demonstrate what best practice in EV charging accessibility looks like.