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Barriers to accessible EV design research published

Thursday, 20 April 2023

We have published a new report (PDF 1.6 MB) into the accessibility of electric vehicle design alongside Energy Saving Trust.

The report highlights the barriers to making the design of electric vehicles (EVs) accessible for disabled people, with a particular focus on wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) and how these could be addressed.

Findings from the research

The research found:

  • Disabled people’s requirements are not being sufficiently considered in the design and production of EVs
  • WAV users in particular are raising concerns about finding models suitable for their needs
  • A survey of disabled WAV users conducted as part of the research found that over 70% of respondents have considered driving an electric WAV, with over 25% planning to get one as their next vehicle
  • The limited choice of suitable vehicles available is a key concern for disabled people, with 85% of respondents listing it as a significant barrier for them. Examples of unsuitable design features included some electric vehicles not being tall enough for some seated wheelchair users, or not enough boot space for mobility equipment.
  • With the control systems in EVs becoming increasing advanced, the report identifies that more engagement is needed to ensure that new features work for disabled people. The placement of the battery and the charging socket are highlighted as key accessibility concerns for EVs.
  • The position of the battery is a key concern for adapters and converters, and is a particular challenge to producing small WAVs, which are the preferred size for many WAV users

Motability Operations, which carries out the day-to-day running of the Motability Scheme, also contributed to the research.

Our recommendations

The report makes a series of recommendations for overcoming the challenges identified relating to accessible and inclusive EV design. These include:

  • Encouraging greater engagement between converters, adapters and vehicle manufacturers
  • Establishing design principles for accessible electric vehicles

Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive Officer of Motability said: “With the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles set to end in 2030, we want to ensure that the transition to EVs is accessible to all.

“While we continue to make progress on the accessibility of public chargepoints, it’s clear from this research that further work is needed on vehicle design.

“There is a risk that disabled people could lose the vital independence that having access to private transport brings if these issues are not addressed by 2030.

“We welcome the findings of this research from Energy Saving Trust, which provides valuable insight from disabled people, vehicle manufacturers and the adaption and conversion industry.

“We are now considering how we can work with our partners including Motability Operations to encourage further engagement on this issue and develop practical solutions for accessible vehicle design.”

Learn more about the report

Read the full report (PDF 1.6 MB) and learn more on our EV work.

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Find out more

Grants to individuals and organisations

We have grants available to individuals as well as organisations and charities to help disabled people make more journeys.

Charitable Grants

Innovation and research

Our innovation team has commissioned research to better understand the barriers faced by disabled people in accessing transport. 

Impact and Innovation

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