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Report 8 March 2022

Electric vehicle adoption for disabled consumers

There are over 14 million disabled people in the UK, with 2.35 million vehicle drivers and passenger accessing the blue badge parking scheme. Of these, it is expected that 1.35 million disabled consumers will be partially or wholly reliant on public chargepoint infrastructure.

The phase-out of sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030 means that the majority of UK consumers will be switching to electric vehicles (EVs) within a decade. We produced this report for the Department for Transport to identify whether there are any specific challenges disabled consumers face when transitioning to EVs, and what can be done to overcome them.

The project evaluated two distinct areas, including the process of a disabled consumer getting an EV and then the process of them using an EV. We gathered information from existing literature and three workshops with key industry stakeholders, including disabled consumers, to better understand the challenges faced by many. This report also assesses some of the solutions that are being developed, and that could be explored to support those consumers that face the barriers identified.

When getting an EV, the main barriers for disabled consumers included:

  • Lack of knowledge on whether an EV is right for them, and their disability.
  • Inadequate range of vehicles means more reliance on a public charging network that is not fit for purpose for many disabled consumers.
  • Disabled consumers lack suitable vehicles compared to those without accessibility requirements.
  • Higher upfront costs of purchase or lease of an EV, especially if modifications are required.

Disabled consumers can also be negatively impacted when using an EV, notably when charging their vehicles. The key barriers for disabled consumers using an EV included:

  • Scarcity of all chargepoints, specifically accessible chargepoints.
  • Chargepoint built environment and chargepoint design issues make using a chargepoint nearly impossible for a number of different types of disabilities, including those with mobility, dexterity, sight, and learning disabilities.
  • Significant consumer behavioural change with higher risk of loss of independence for disabled consumers, which can have serious impacts on the quality of life.

Last updated: 7 March 2022