Motability has conducted extensive research to understand the barriers disabled people face in using electric vehicles. Through this research, we have identified that there is a lack of accessibility across the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. With the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles due to be end in 2030, Motability is focussing on charge point accessibility to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged and left behind in this future shift.
One of our key priorities is to work with industry, Government and other charities to amplify the voices of disabled people in the transport system and create innovative solutions to the charge point accessibility issues faced by disabled people.
User research we sponsored with the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) demonstrated that many disabled drivers might face difficulties with the weight of charging cables, the force required to attach the connector, the lack of dropped kerbs around charge points and unsuitable parking arrangements. We commissioned further research from Ricardo Energy & Environment which outlined the scale of the issues and who we potentially need to engage with to resolve these.
With one in five people in the UK living with a disability, Ricardo Energy & Environment estimates there will be 2.7 million disabled drivers in the UK in 2035. Of these 2.7 million, it is estimated up to 1.35 million, or 50%, will be at least wholly or partially reliant on public charging infrastructure, meaning they will need to charge their vehicle away from home. However, this has not been designed with their accessibility needs in mind. In the race to make sure the UK is ready and inclusive for 2030, Motability has a vision to ensure that EV charging infrastructure in the UK is accessible for disabled people.
Our Innovation team has engaged with several key stakeholders including; Government departments and agencies; The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV); car manufacturers; charge-point providers; industry bodies; information service providers and disability groups, to produce a strategic plan of how to move this project forward. This project will subsequently focus on three key work streams:
- Engaging Government with evidence on the accessibility barriers disabled drivers will face with existing charging infrastructure. For example, we responded to the Office of Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) on the consumer experience of public charge points. We have established a partnership with OZEV to work together towards accessible charging standards in the UK. We also took part in a Transport Scotland panel, which evaluated bids from an innovation perspective focused on accessible EV charging and supported those who were successful with their projects moving forward.
- Engaging industry with evidence on the accessibility barriers disabled drivers will face with existing charging infrastructure. For example, we worked with information service provider Zap-Map to run a survey with disability-specific questions, to provide the sector with a better understanding of EV uptake amongst disabled drivers. Our partnership led to the survey results generating interest from over 60 publications, raising our profile among businesses in the e-mobility space. We have also formed a partnership with UK Power Networks on their “Enable” project, which aims to support local areas in determining their needs for accessible charging.
- Supporting innovation. We have partnered with Designability, a charity which creates products to enable disabled people to live with greater independence. Through this partnership, we have awarded the charity with grant funding to begin to explore holistic EV charging solutions for the benefit of disabled drivers with a team of designers and engineers.
If you are an organisation interested in collaborating with Motability on this project, or would like to find out more, please contact the Innovation team.