Focus is increasingly being put on the accessibility of electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints, with the AA now joining the calls for improvements.
With the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars set for 2030, it is “essential” that charging infrastructure is accessible for all, the company said, with almost one in ten new cars in the UK bought on behalf of disabled people.
Indeed, an AA survey of 17,302 drivers last year found that 73% believed charge post spaces should be wheelchair friendly, 79% believed charge post design should consider users with limited mobility and/or disabilities and 80% said there should be access to a 24/7 helpline.
It follows a 2020 survey from Zap-Map and national disability charity Motability that found a third of disabled drivers have difficulties locating a suitable charger. Challenges with the weight of charging cables, the force required to attach the connector, the lack of dropped curbs around charge points and unsuitable parking arrangements were all highlighted.
Last year, Motability partnered Designability to examine the challenges, with accessible parking with room to manoeuvre around the vehicle flagged by drivers they spoke to as a key concern, while the different processes to enable charging to take place was found to be confusing or frustrating for some drivers.
Additionally, the position of the chargepoint in relation to the parking space, using and handling cables, connectors and sockets, waiting for the vehicle to be charged with a particular focus on the availability of accessible facilities nearby and seeking assistance when experiencing difficulties were all highlighted as issues.
A separate survey from SSEN also found that there are concerns for disabled drivers surrounding becoming vulnerable if their EV runs out of charge, and when it comes to the price of an EV there are additional barriers such as extra costs for modifications.
“We are getting to the point where the uptake of EVs is moving quickly from early-adopters, who perhaps put up with more quirks in the system, to more mainstream drivers who will rightly want the infrastructure to meet their expectations,” Edmund King OBE, AA president, is expected to say at an industry conference today (18 January).
“Creating new charging posts that are easily accessible will not only benefit disabled drivers but will be a great help to our ageing population and indeed all drivers.”
King suggested that charging posts should be well-lit and close to amenities, with space around the vehicle to allow people to use walking or mobility aids. Instructions, the screen and cables should also be easy to see and have the capability of being used from a sitting or standing position.
New accessibility standards for EV charging are currently being developed, with Motability and the Department for Transport having commissioned the British Standard Institute for this.
Wireless charging was suggested as one possible solution for improving accessibility at Solar Media's Everything EV Summit in April 2021. It is a technology being rolled out by Connected Kerb among other companies, with CEO Chris Pateman-Jones stating that it "opens up electric vehicles for disabled people" when the rollout was first announced in January 2020.