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What do drivers with disabilities need to know about buying an EV in the UK?

Man in wheelchair plugging in a charger in an electric car

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity across the world, both with drivers looking to cut their petrol bills, and governments looking to slash emissions in order to meet sustainability targets. However, these eco-friendly vehicles are still far from being the mainstream option for those on the roads in the UK. Many people are still adjusting to the idea of leaving their petrol cars behind, especially those who rely heavily on their cars for independence, such as drivers with disabilities.

So what do you need to know about buying an EV in the UK? We take a look, to help you make an informed decision that’s right for you.

What advantages can an EV offer you?

Aside from the eco benefits of having zero exhaust emissions, EVs can actually be an attractive drive. The new models are sleek to look at, and are made by many major manufacturers, meaning that you can be assured that they have been rigorously tested.

They have fewer moving parts, which results in a smoother, quieter driving experience – perfect for people who have hearing disability, or are overstimulated by noisy journeys. The reduction in moving parts can also mean that they require less maintenance, which is important for those who are trying to reduce costs.

Additionally, EV owners save around £620 on fuel per year when compared to a petrol car, and around £540 when compared to a diesel vehicle – a significant difference.

What adjustments can be made to vehicles?

As a driver with disabilities, you may be looking to ensure that you can make adjustments to your vehicle to make it both more comfortable, and legal for you to drive. Some common adjustments include:

  • Trigger accelerators – pull forward to accelerate, push away to brake
  • Over ring accelerator – placed on top of the steering wheel, push down to accelerate
  • Under ring accelerator – placed behind the wheel, pull to accelerate
  • Ghost ring accelerator – placed behind the wheel, moves side-to-side
  • Pedal modifications, to allow them to be extended
  • Steering aids like a ball device to control direction

Before committing to a driving aid, you should discuss your options with a professional, and see if you can visit a shop in person to get a feel for what will help you best.

The Motability Scheme is a UK-based programme that allows people with disabilities and their carers to get help with the cost of a car. You’re eligible if you get any of the following:

  • Enhanced rate Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Higher rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Higher rate mobility component of Child Disability Payment (Scotland)
  • Enhanced rate mobility part of Adult Disability Payment (Scotland)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • War Pensioners Mobility Supplement (WPMS)

If eligible, you can lease a car through the scheme in a comprehensive package that includes insurance, servicing, maintenance, tyre and windscreen repair and replacement, and charge point support.

Closer than you think

You might have thought that an EV was out of your price range, or not adaptable to your needs, but many people with disabilities find that they can benefit from these smooth new sustainable cars. As always with any big purchase, contact your garage to make sure that you can take advantage of a test drive before you make any commitments, and ensure that your chosen vehicle can be adjusted to your requirements.

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