Electric vehicle drivers with disabilities are experiencing problems when using chargepoints, a survey suggests. Chargepoint mapping service Zap-Map has worked with the disability charity Motability to examine the barriers that disabled drivers face when charging their electric vehicles.
With the projected growth in EV sales, Zap-Map and Motability wanted to understand the challenges that disabled people, a key segment of the market, may face when purchasing and using an EV. They worked together to design a survey, with the results being provided as input into the government’s consultation into consumer requirements for EV charging.
Zap-Map has been polling EV drivers on their experiences of using Britain’s charging network for four years. For the first time, this year’s survey of 2,200 EV drivers asked respondents if they considered themselves to have a disability, and about the challenges they face while charging their electric vehicles.
The results indicate that one-third of disabled people surveyed had difficulties locating a suitable charger that could meet their needs, with one-in-seven noting their specific challenges with the weight of charging cables.
The survey also revealed that some users experienced difficulties with the force required to attach the connector, the lack of dropped kerbs around chargepoints, and unsuitable parking arrangements.
Some 8% of the respondents identified as disabled, which is below the expected 20% rate of disability within the UK population. The smaller proportion of disabled people using Zap-Map possibly indicates a more limited uptake of EVs among this group, with accessibility issues being a potential concern.
Dr Ben Lane, Zap-Map’s chief technical officer and joint managing director, said: “The UK is witnessing the start of an electric vehicle revolution with millions of zero-emission cars set to appear on our roads in the near future. The new charging infrastructure to serve those EVs is being built now and we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. Businesses and chargepoint operators need to focus more effort on improving accessibility and designing chargepoints which will benefit everyone.
“The results of the Zap-Map/Motability survey should serve as a warning to the industry to sit up and take notice. Many disabled people will be thinking about investing in an electric vehicle but could be put off by a lack of accessibility at public chargepoint locations.”
Motability’s vision is that no disabled person shall be disadvantaged due to poor access to transportation. Catherine Marris, innovation lead at Motability, adds: “We know that one-in-five people in the UK are disabled and Motability’s recent research estimates that there will be 2.7 million disabled drivers or passengers by 2035, with 1.35 million expected to be partially or wholly reliant on public charging infrastructure.
“As we approach what will be a transformative energy transition in the UK, there is a robust social and commercial case for ensuring that EV charging infrastructure is accessible for disabled people. If we want to work towards a society and economy that is inclusive for all, then accessibility must be a priority.
“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to partner with Zap-Map for its annual survey this year, and hope to begin working with industry and government to innovate solutions to chargepoint accessibility
Launched in June 2014, Zap-Map’s EV mapping service is available on desktop and iOS/Android apps, it helps EV drivers to locate available charge points, plan longer journeys, share updates and pay for charging on participating networks.
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