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SSEN seeks to tackle EV accessibility for disabled drivers

Accessibility of chargepoints is a key barrier to EV uptake for disabled drivers. Image: SSEN.

Accessibility of chargepoints is a key barrier to EV uptake for disabled drivers. Image: SSEN.

SSEN has outlined the key barriers and challenges in electric vehicle (EV) uptake for vulnerable and disable drivers in a new report.

Part of the Equal EV project, the report identified four key barriers to EV uptake. While these were similar to challenges identified by drivers in general – such as range anxiety and high upfront costs – the report shows the need for additional provisions and considerations to address accessibility and mobility barriers.

While range anxiety is a common concern, for disabled drivers there are additional concerns 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.

The other two key barriers identified were the different manufacturers and charging compatibilities, which require drivers to seek specific guidance and support and the accessibility of chargepoints. Considerations within that include the weight of cables, height of charging stations and suitability of parking arrangements.

SSEN has therefore suggested three areas for industry, manufacturers and operators to address. The first of these is implementing common regulation and standards in charging equipment available to reduce the number of incompatible and costly offerings.

Secondly, there should be common standards available at chargepoints such as designated parking spaces, dropped kerbs and equipment being accessible for disabled and vulnerable motorists.

Lastly, there is a need for collaborative action between industry, government, network operators and stakeholders in addressing these barriers.

How to improve the EV charging experience for disabled drivers has already found its way onto the government agenda, with the Department for Transport announcing its partnership with national disability charity Motability last month for the development of new accessibility standards for EV charging. The two have commissioned the British Standards Institute to develop the standards.

This followed Motability conducting a survey with Zap-Map in December 2020 that found that a third of disabled drivers have difficulties locating a suitable charger that could meet their needs.

SSEN’s report was produced alongside project partner Disabled Motoring UK through a literature review and interviews with disabled and vulnerable motorists, automotive industry experts and organisations.

The next phase includes bringing together different stakeholders such as automotive and chargepoint industry groups and manufacturers and national and local governments to identify opportunities, gaps and different stakeholder responsibilities.

Areas being examined within this include home charging, using EVs as a back-up power supply for a house, vehicle-to-grid export solutions and ensuring public chargepoints and chargepoint equipment are accessible.

The learnings from the project’s first phase are to be shared with industry stakeholders and the automotive industry, government and the energy sector.

Lisa Doogan, head of customer service and stakeholder strategy at SSEN: "With millions of blue badge holders throughout the UK, Equal EV is delivering key findings for how vulnerable and disabled motorists can be supported in the transition to EVs."

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