A new survey of electric vehicle (EV) drivers has found issues around accessibility for disabled users.
Bristol-based Zap-Map, the UK’s leading EV mapping service, polled 2,200 EV drivers on their experiences of using Britain’s charging network. The survey has been running for four years and is seen as the go-to guide for tracking EV driver behaviour and charging patterns for the electric vehicle industry.
For the first time, and partnering with Motability, the national disability charity, this year’s survey asked respondents if they considered themselves to have a disability, and about the challenges they face while charging their electric vehicles.
The results found that one-third of disabled people surveyed had difficulties locating a suitable charger that could meet their needs, with one in seven noting their very 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 charge points, and unsuitable parking arrangements.
In addition, 8% of respondents identified as disabled, which is below the 20% rate of disability we expect to see 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 CTO and Joint MD, 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 charge point operators need to focus more effort on improving accessibility and designing charge points 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 charge point locations.”
Catherine Marris, Innovation Lead at Motability, added:“We know that one in five people in the UK are disabled and Motability’s recent research estimated 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 charge point accessibility challenges. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please get in touch.”
With the projected growth in EV sales, Zap-Map and Motability are keen 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 the survey and the results will be provided as input into the government’s consultation into consumer requirements for EV charging.