Exclusive: New ChargeSafe initiative launched to rate safety of EV charge points

Electric vehicle (EV) advocate Kate Tyrrell has launched a new initiative which will help improve the safety and accessibility standards of charging points. 

Amid growing concerns surrounding EV drivers using charge points in poorly lit and remote locations, ChargeSafe will inspect every charger and location, give it a rating and share this information with EV drivers.

This will enable them to make a more informed charger selection, when planning journeys that require a charge away from home.

Tyrrell, who is the co-founder of the business, says the company will work closely with charge point operators and local authorities to highlight areas of concern and suggest solutions for the lowest scoring sites.

Offering complete transparency, the company is promising an unbiased inspection for every unit with a third party providing independent verification of a random selection of reports which will then be published online.  

Tyrrell said: “I have been driving an EV for 16 months now and my job means I travel a lot, so public charging is familiar to me. Two major oversights by networks include safety and accessibility. In their haste to deliver an ambitious infrastructure, charge point suppliers appear to have overlooked key elements such as lighting, security and human activity or a way to raise the alarm if feeling threatened. The charging industry needs to do more to make all customers feel safe, secure and to ensure that the charging experience is as good as possible.

She continued: “I seem to have become something of a spokesperson on safety and accessibility as a subject within the EV industry and feel confident I can deliver a solution. Simply put, ChargeSafe is a simple rating system, designed to provide drivers with more informed charge options when considering their safety and accessibility needs.” 

Her own personal experiences of unpleasant and tense charge point experiences have led to her taking forward the ChargeSafe initiative.

These include a dark, poorly lit corner of a supermarket late at night, desperately trying to connect to a charger. 

“Each motorist’s safety and accessibility needs to be at the heart of every inspection and there is no room for a compromised inspection,” Tyrrell explains. 

Charge point operators will be able to pay a premium subscription to obtain the inspection data collected, which will provide them with a detailed report on every inspection carried out on their individual units, with real-time reporting of inspector and user ratings. They will not however be able to partner or advertise with ChargeSafe, to ensure a fair and consistent approach to inspections across the network.  

The ChargeSafe initiative has already earned praise from Edmund King OBE, AA President. He said: “The AA has also been raising the issue of accessibility and security at charging posts and polled members on it last year, so we are absolutely delighted that ChargeSafe is highlighting security issues and taking action.

“In simple terms, charging posts need to be well-lit, close to amenities, with space around the vehicle to allow people to use walking or mobility aids.”  

Edmund reflects on his own personal experience during EVROS in 2021: “Our experience on the EV Rally of Scotland brought it home to us that some people with limited mobility would struggle with the height and weight of cables particularly in enclosed areas with little space and that some charging post locations can be intimidating at night.

“We are getting to the point where the uptake of EVs is moving quickly from early-adopters, who perhaps have been more accepting of security issues, to more mainstream drivers who will rightly want safe and secure infrastructure to meet their expectations.

“All individuals also need to be safe and feel safe, using the charging infrastructure at any time of the day or night. We know of some chargers in remote corners of car parks with little lighting or security for users who rightly feel vulnerable on their own and must use a credit card and phone in public view. Hence the network needs to be accessible and safe.” 

“We are aware that some providers have made excellent progress in designing high-quality infrastructure and indeed the AA provides customer support services to several providers. More accessible infrastructure will help speed up the EV revolution for all drivers.” 

Tyrrell is fully committed to delivering the nationwide scoring system and keeping up with the rapid deployment of new chargers. She adds: “All charge point operators have done an incredible job to deliver a vast network of chargers across the UK and continue to do so. They must, however, accept that they owe a duty of care to users by implementing simple upgrades to existing sites. It is imperative that, as the sale of electric vehicles hits new heights, we all work together to ensure the UK have the highest standards in place to make the charging experience safe and accessible for all.” 

ChargeSafe plan to fully launch their service this Summer 2022, with individual scores being made available via their website chargesafe.uk and via other mapping applications, to be announced at a later date.  

Image courtesy of ChargeSafe.

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