“Electric car chargepoints step up to the accessibility challenge”

After a successful Auto Express campaign, Chris Rosamond is pleased to see disabled EV drivers finally being taken into account

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The UK’s rapid shift towards EVs means we often hear from entrepreneurs, the energy establishment and investors, with business goals underpinned by the seemingly genuine desire to make ‘Planet A’ work better.

EV charging infrastructure is a case in point, where innovation and investment are often inspired by forward thinkers on a mission to change the world.

The industry’s progressive instincts have, until now, sat uncomfortably with the reality of EV ownership for many. Across the past year, Auto Express has campaigned on the difficulties faced by less able drivers when confronted with weighty and unwieldy charging cables, and challenged public chargepoint providers and government to address the issue. Providers pushed back.

Guidance might have emerged in April’s draft of the British Standards Institute’s PAS 1899 for Accessible Public EV Chargers. Instead, the draft kicked the issue of unmanageable cables into the long grass of ‘future consideration’, proposing a tick-box solution for chargepoint providers that would leave less able drivers barely better off. It looked like a classic industry stitch-up.

But the prospect of inaccessible EV chargers gaining government-sponsored, BSI-approved, ‘accessible’ status wasn’t good enough for disabled drivers, or us.

We campaigned for a rethink and our efforts have been vindicated: the final version of PAS 1899, revealed last week, not only provides limits for acceptable forces required to manipulate cables, but goes further. It states that chargepoint providers wishing to meet the UK’s new standard must provide additional assistance for less able users if the weight of the charging cable exceeds the limit. In other words, someone to help you plug in.

This makes PAS 1899 a new gold standard for accessibility, and is a credit to all concerned, especially those companies and individuals on the industry steering group who have confirmed their progressive credentials. We’re also delighted that our campaign was listened to.

What do you think about the issue of accessibility at electric car charging stations? Have your say in the comments…

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