2.3 million disabled motorists at risk of being left behind in the electric vehicle transition

Transport is the largest source of the UK’s carbon emissions and requires extensive electrification to meet the 2050 net zero emissions target. However, the lack of provision and access to suitable electric vehicle (EV) charge point infrastructure risks leaving the 2.3 million disabled Blue Badge holders in the UK behind.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) alongside Connected Kerb and disabled motorist groups, including Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK), has today launched Equal EV, a project that seeks to understand the requirements and the barriers for disabled and vulnerable motorists to make the switch to EVs.

As EV sales continue to increase, with over 164,000 now on UK roads, the Government is expected to soon make an announcement on bringing forward the date for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. Ensuring the transition is fair and accessible to all is a key priority for Equal EV’s project partners.

Drivers with disabilities seeking to upgrade to an EV can face multiple obstacles to accessing charging infrastructure, such as heavy, trailing cables that are poorly designed for their use, disabled parking bays lacking charge points and obstructions such as bollards blocking easy access.

Equal EV will identify obstacles to EV adoption. The project will recommend solutions for any barriers to adoption as well as develop and test a wireless charging solution. It will also explore exciting opportunities such as utilising EVs to act as backup power supply to vulnerable households in the event of a power cut.

The project will last 18 months, identifying areas in SSEN’s distribution regions which could benefit most, recognising the challenges disabled Blue Badge holders may face and trialling real world solutions to inform how the UK can secure an inclusive EV transition.

Lisa Doogan, Head of Customer Service and Stakeholder Strategy said:

“EVs pose an exciting opportunity, improving air quality and supporting the communities we serve make the transition to a net zero future. It is imperative that this transition is managed in an inclusive manner, and people are not shut out from making the shift to EVs.

“Equal EV provides an opportunity to identify and address barriers now, to ensure new technology is available to everyone and that the charging infrastructure is designed to be inclusive and accessible.

“The learnings from Equal EV will be shared with energy sector stakeholders including other network operators, who will face identical issues in their licence areas.”

Richard Turnbull, Head of Wireless Charging & Innovation Projects said:

“Connected Kerb have been working with the disabled driver community for some time and as momentum gathers in the transition towards zero emission driving and achieving governments Net Zero ambitions we are committed to ensuring the disabled community are not left behind. We are delighted to be receiving the support from SSEN to progress this project identifying the needs and designing appropriate solutions that will enable disabled drivers make a smooth transition towards zero emission driving.”

Equal EV is an 18-month project that has secured £310,000 in NIA funding. SSEN has committed to invest in its infrastructure and flexible solutions to support 10 million EVs on GB roads by 2030. In the summer SSEN published Accelerating a Green Recovery, and called for the Government to implement 10 policies to deliver the world’s most extensive EV charging network by 2025.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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