Shell has opened its very first Electric Vehicle (EV) charge hub in the UK converted from a traditional petrol station.
The hub located in Fulham, is part of Shell’s programme to operate 500,000 charging points by 2025, and 2.5 million by 2030, the year when the sale of new petrol vehicles is effectively banned in the UK.
While this is seen by many as an exciting step towards a carbon neutral future within the automotive industry, campaigners say this future must also be accessible to drivers who are disabled.
Motability, a charity that works with disabled motorists estimates that by 2035, disabled drivers and passengers will number 2.7 million in the UK, with half of those will rely on the public car charging network.
A visit to the Shell Hub revealed no evidence of any disabled bays, and no knowledge on the part of staff of provisions for disabled motorists.
Graham Footer, Chief Executive of Disabled Motorists UK (DMUK), said: “It is disappointing to hear that they (Shell) have not included an accessible charging bay.
“Considering EV is a new technology, this was an ideal opportunity to make it accessible and inclusive from the very beginning.”
A Shell spokesman commented: “We take accessibility very seriously. This means thinking about the width of the bays, having level access between the charging points, as well as the distance to the shop.
“We’ll also take all of these points into consideration for future EV Hubs.”
Shell added that if disabled drivers need help recharging, they can download the fuelService app, which connects drivers to Shell’s site team who will be on hand to help.
DMUK and Motability say that despite pledges made by Charge Point Operators (CPOs), action is not being taken fast enough to ensure EV infrastructure will be accessible for disabled motorists.
The Department for Transport has commissioned the British Standards Institute to develop accessibility standards for charge points.