With all the hype surrounding Electric Vehicles (EVs) and how they are pretty much going to take over the automotive industry in the next 10-15 years, it is easy to forget that those in minority groups could be most affected by these changes.
We are, of course, referring to those disabled individuals within our communities, who will need specific accessibility requirements to ensure they can travel using EVs.
Motorists with disabilities who do not have access to off-street parking will require on-street charging solutions as they transition to EVs. These motorists have specific parking and charging requirements as they need to park close to their home or destination, and the EV charging infrastructure must be accessible.
Electric vehicle research to help disabled motorists…
Up to 1.35 million drivers with disabilities are estimated to be partially or wholly reliant on public EV charging infrastructure, according to research by Ricardo. And UK Power Networks, the distribution network operator (DNO) for London and the South East, estimates that around a third of those drivers, nearly half a million customers, are within its region.
In a shift to help those most vulnerable make the transition, UK Power Networks is undertaking a research project with Motability and local authorities to help disabled drivers make the switch to EVs. The research alongside Motability will identify the specific needs of disabled EV drivers who park on-street, who need to park close to their home or destination. This will ensure they have the infrastructure they need to charge their cars, giving them the independence to get out and about.
The project, called Enable, will outline where charging stations are needed to support drivers with disabilities. The maps will be developed with local authorities to inform their Local Area Energy Plans and ensure nobody is left behind.
The announcement of the project comes a week after the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that it has commissioned the British Standards Institute (BSI) to develop the standards for EV charge points across the country, which will provide guidance on how to make individual charge points more accessible by summer 2022.
A statement from Motability…
Catherine Marris, head of innovation at Motability, said: “There is a robust commercial and social case for ensuring that future electric vehicle charging infrastructure is accessible for all and we are pleased to be a part of this inclusive and forward-thinking project, which will help inform our own UK-wide initiatives on accessible charging.”