Electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity for fleets as we get nearer to 2030, when the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars and vans will come into play.
Alongside the many benefits offered by EVs, there are challenges that must be addressed by businesses as they make the electric transition. Among these challenges is charging; ensuring the necessary charging infrastructure is in place, so vehicles can be rapidly and easily recharged – avoiding delays to journeys.
The public charging infrastructure is spreading as EV adoption continues to rise. EV chargepoints are now commonplace at motorway service areas, supermarket car parks and many other locations across the UK.
However, whether fleet managers need to electrify a depot to meet the demands of the operational fleet, or an organisation is looking to provide charging facilities at the workplace, the requirement goes beyond simply ensuring there are enough chargers available to satisfy the demand from all drivers.
Ensuring charging safety and accessibility – a new standard
Safety and accessibility are two key areas that must be addressed to ensure all users – able-bodied and those with any sort of disability or other accessibility need – can easily and rapidly charge their vehicles.
Newly introduced, mandatory accessibility standards for chargepoints in public or communal areas set out strict rules around the installation of chargers in public areas.
The new standard, known as PAS 1899:2022, arises from a collaboration between the Government’s Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles, the charity Motability and the British Standards Institute (BSI). It sets out what is required for public EV chargepoints to be fully accessible for disabled drivers, passengers and pedestrians. First published in October 2022, the standard is based on extensive research by Motability into the experiences and requirements of disabled people when using EV chargepoints.
Currently, there are around 14 million disabled people in the UK, and it is estimated that by 2033, there will be around 2.7 million disabled drivers – many of whom will be using electric vehicles given the ending of the sale of new ICE vehicles. While the BSI recommends that workplaces provide at least one disabled bay for each disabled employee, as well as a minimum of 5% of the overall capacity of visiting motorists, organisations should consider how they can offer the same provisions for EV charging spaces.
The findings from this Motability research formed the basis of PAS 1899:2022, governing the full extent of the charging experience for every EV driver – from the physical environment around the charging unit (kerb height, ground type, etc.), to the location and spacing of charging units, and the design of the charging unit itself. This covers facets such as the unit’s height and weight, ease of use and accessibility of information.
What do the new standards mean for workplace chargepoints?
While these standards are – for now – not mandatory for chargepoints installed in workplaces, they do provide a clear way forward, which organisations would be wise to adopt for new chargepoint installations on their premises. The standard can even be used to assess the accessibility of any existing chargepoints, allowing appropriate remedial action to be taken.
As part of the process, Motability also teamed up with Designability, a charity working to support greater independence for disabled people. Designability produced a freely available design guide for providers of public electric vehicle (EV) chargepoint infrastructure, to ensure accessibility for all users – and the guidance in this is just as valuable for organisations needing to provide accessible chargepoints on their own premises.
This document provides step-by-step guidance to ensure accessibility for all. In particular, organisations would be well-advised to heed stipulations around such areas as:
- Ensuring sufficient space at the sides of EV charging bays for disabled drivers to get in and out, or for passengers to be able to assist them
- Ensuring sufficient space in front of and behind the vehicle charging bays, which is especially important for wheelchair-accessible vehicles
- Ensuring dropped kerbs are in place, so wheelchair users can easily access the charging points
- Ensuring sockets and other user interfaces, such as screens, are reachable and at a suitable height for a wheelchair user to access
- The positioning of other potential obstacles, such as bollards, in the vicinity of the chargepoint
- The provision of shelter and lighting around the chargepoint – this is particularly important, as disabled people may take longer to get in and out of the vehicle and manoeuvre around the vehicle to manage the charging process
- Ensuring local ground conditions are suitable for wheelchair users and others with reduced mobility
Adopting these standards will enable chargepoints to be just as accessible for disabled people as any other equipment with which they might use or come into contact in offices or workplaces – and it will also ensure nobody is left behind in the switch to electric vehicles.
Further information is also available in the VWFS Fleet EV Charging and Infrastructure Guide, which can be accessed for free here:
Our team are also always on hand to answer questions, or provide any other support you need, when seeking to create a truly accessible charging infrastructure for your business.
If you have a specific question or would simply like to discuss your fleet requirements, please contact us.
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