The AA and Motability say more accessible EV charging points are needed with poor lighting, tight spaces and heavy cables among the issues
Heavy charging cables, lack of space and poor lighting are among the problems disabled people, older drivers and those with mobility problems can face in trying to use electric vehicle charging points, warns the AA.
With the ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel cars just eight years away, there is now a call for more accessible EV charging points to enable the country as a whole to fully embrace the steady switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Currently almost one in 10 new cars in the UK are bought on behalf of disabled people with The Motability Scheme enabling millions of motorists to lease a car suitable for their needs that will give them the freedom of movement that other modes of transport often don't offer.
However, the EV charging infrastructure currently in place, which enables owners of electric cars to charge their vehicles while out and about isn't always so accommodating, say motoring experts and disability organisations.
AA president Edmund King explained: "In simple terms, charging posts need to be well-lit, close to amenities, with space around the vehicle to allow people to use walking or mobility aids. It is also essential that the instructions, screen, and cables can be easily viewed and used from a sitting and standing position.
"Our experience on the EV Rally of Scotland brought it home to us that some people with limited mobility would struggle with the height and weight of cables particularly in enclosed areas with little space.
"Creating new charging posts that are easily accessible will not only benefit disabled drivers but will be a great help to our ageing population and indeed all drivers."
The Motability charity, in conjunction with fellow disability organisation Designability, the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), have been exploring the issues for a number of months. The work, it is planned, will eventually result in national standards that set minimum levels of accessibility for electric vehicle charging points.
Throwing its support behind the plans, the AA says the uptake in electric vehicles is now moving from early-adopters, who may have put up with more teething problems and quirks in the new systems, to more mainstream drivers who want the existing infrastructure to meet their expectations.
Mr King added: “All individuals also need to be safe and feel safe, using the charging infrastructure at any time of the day or night. We know of some chargers in remote corners of car parks with little lighting or security for users who rightly feel vulnerable on their own and must use a credit card and phone in public view. Hence the network needs to be accessible and safe.
"More accessible infrastructure will help speed up the EV revolution for all drivers."
Catherine Marris, head of innovation at Motability, said it was crucial that disabled people are not left behind as the UK begins the gradual switch to electric cars.
She said: "There is a robust commercial and social case for ensuring that the transition to EVs is inclusive for disabled people. Our research with Ricardo estimates there will be 2.7 million UK drivers or passengers with a disability by 2035, with half reliant on public charging.
"It is therefore hugely important that disabled people are not left behind in the transition and that infrastructure providers avoid expensive retrofitting by building accessibility into chargepoint design at the start; following best practice and design standards will help."