Electric vehicle (EV) uptake in the UK is accelerating, with one in six new cars registered in 2023 being electric according to recent data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
This incline is expected to steepen with the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate now being passed into law, requiring 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold in Britain to be zero emissions, increasing to 100% by 2035.
There are now over 50,000 public chargepoints in the UK – a 44% year-on-year increase – to help accommodate the increase of EVs on the roads, but concerns remain as to how operators will be able to maintain the 99% reliability required from rapid chargepoints through the government’s Public Charge Point Regulations 2023.
The pool of EV drivers will also broaden as the UK’s roads become electric and EV’s move from the enthusiast to the mainstream. This requires the UK’s charging network to adapt and accommodate new drivers with different accessibility requirements.
To instil confidence in current and future UK’s EV drivers, the British Standards Institution (BSI), published the PAS 1899:2022 EV accessible charging specification in 2022 and developed a Kitemark for EV charging to “support the building of an inclusive electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the UK.”
According to the BSI’s ‘Powering confidence in electric vehicle charging’ document, 65% of the companies that have obtained the Kitemark said that sales have increased, with 80% stating their business reputation has improved.
Current± speaks to Callum Snell, certification team manager at BSI to learn more about the national standards body’s new EV charging Kitemark certification.
What initiated the BSI Group’s pursuit of a Kitemark certification for EV charging?
BSI is committed to accelerating progress to a more sustainable world, and to prioritising people and their needs. The publication of the standard PAS 1899 for accessibility of electric vehicle (EV) chargers aligns with this objective by ensuring the EV infrastructure is safe to use and cyber resilient for all consumers, regardless of ability. In turn, this is designed to support the transition to an EV society that is inclusive and ultimately accelerates progress towards a sustainable world.
What benefits are offered from obtaining the certification – both from an industry and public/driver perception?
Having gained formal recognition from the Motability Foundation, the Kitemark is designed to serve as a trusted mechanism for chargepoint operators to demonstrate that they are addressing the needs of disabled drivers. For EV charger users, they can identify charging sites that will meet their needs quickly and efficiently. This new Kitemark encompasses all the aspects of our existing Kitemarks for EV chargers and is aimed at ensuring that accessible chargepoints remain electrically and digitally safe for the motorist.
Could you talk us through some aspects of the testing undertaken during the accreditation process?
As the first and only UKAS accredited testing facility for EV charger safety, BSI has the expertise and facilities to provide the highest level of compliance to manufacturers of EV chargers. In relation to the accessibility Kitemark, this is a two-part scheme that assesses the charger as “accessible ready” covering all aspects of the physical equipment such as the height of the interface and weight of the cable.
The second part involves a pre-approved charger on-site and a physical inspection of all the other aspects of accessibility such as wheelchair access, lighting, and ease of use. In addition, there are elements of maintenance and continuous quality that will also be addressed at the site owner’s headquarters.
In what ways does the Kitemark accreditation measure accessibility?
Our qualified auditors visit the sites and assess the charging area for every part of the Standard to ensure it is fully compliant. In addition, there will be a requirement for the chargepoint to carry independent verification of safety aspects and physical requirements for accessibility such as the height of the interface and weight of cables. Kitemark assessments are very thorough and are conducted on a continual basis to ensure the site continues to meet the Kitemark requirements. In this way, any changes to the streetscape surrounding the site are captured and addressed.
In your view, how much of a hindrance is chargepoint accessibility to the UK EV uptake?
Estimates made by the charity Designability suggest there are set to be 2.7 million disabled drivers and/or passengers by 2035 and that 1.35 million of those will be reliant on public chargepoints. This is likely to increase as more disabled drivers consider making the switch to EV motoring. There is an opportunity to encourage all drivers to take steps towards making their driving habits more sustainable. Ensuring chargepoints are accessible regardless of drivers’ ability can help us unlock a more sustainable future.
BSI’s EV charging Kitemark certification is still relatively new, but how much interest has it received so far from companies looking to become accredited – how do you expect this to grow in the coming years?
Having run shaping workshops with key industry stakeholders, including Motability, we have had high levels of interest in the new Kitemark. We are partnering with some first adopters such as local authorities and chargepoint manufacturers to run a Kitemark pilot scheme. As the rapid rollout of the charging infrastructure increases throughout the UK, the amount of accessible charging bays is likely to increase and with that a demand to demonstrate compliance.
This scheme is designed to ensure certified chargers are both accessible and safe. Building on the introduction last year of PAS 1899, this offers the opportunity to encourage charging point providers and manufacturers to continue to improve accessibility for all. This offers the potential to support the transition to an electric vehicle society that is inclusive and accelerates progress towards a sustainable world.