Of the over 700,000 EVs sold in the US in 2022, none could be fully accessible to wheelchair users.EV batteries’ are under the floor, which is a challenge for making the cars accessible.Making a car fully accessible to wheelchair users costs around $30,000.LoadingSomething is loading.Thanks for signing up!Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you’re on the go. download the appElectrification has been center stage of any car conversation lately, and sales of electric vehicles have increased significantly. And yet, if a wheelchair user in the US wants to be part of the trend and buy a fully accessible EV for personal use, they won’t be able to find it. The EV industry, despite its speedy development, is still young and it hasn’t produced enough car models to cater to every need. More specifically it comes down to size and money. “Inches mean miles when you’re in a wheelchair,” Kevin Frayne, director of advanced mobility solutions at BraunAbility, a manufacturer that converts cars to make them accessible to wheelchair users, told Insider. To be fully accessible to wheelchair users, a car needs to have floor space that allows maneuvering, a large door opening, and a ramp on the side to facilitate getting into the car. That’s why minivans are usually the platform of choice.Full-size vans, given their size, could also do the trick. “But what users want is normalcy in the driveway,” Frayne noted. “They don’t want something gargantuan that doesn’t fit in their garage.” Electric minivans for personal use are not a thing in the US yet. Volkswagen’s ID.Buzz, which has already launched in Europe with a short wheelbase, is expected to launch with a long wheelbase in the US in 2024. And even that one, according to Frayne, is not as big as he would like. EVs present another tricky challenge. To make vehicles accessible, manufacturers like BraunAbility often both raise the roofs of the cars, and redesign the floor structure, to lower it and install ramps. “And where are the batteries in EVs?” Frayne jokingly asked, “They’re under the floor!” A price problem With time, engineers will likely solve the batteries’ challenge, but another problem is that, as cute as the ID.Buzz is, it’s likely not going to be that cheap. On average, electric cars are still more expensive than gas cars. The Tesla Model X, which is one of the largest EVs on the market, has a starting price of over $100,000, which would come before the conversion price, which can range in between $15,000 and $30,000, according to Frayne. “Disability and poverty often go hand in hand. Some people say that disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty,” Maria Town, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, told Insider. “People with disabilities are going to be less likely to be able to purchase an EV until the prices for these vehicles come down.” Charging infrastructure Once made accessible, EVs could benefit wheelchair users greatly. Being able to charge your vehicle in your own home, for instance, could save a wheelchair user a trip to the gas pump, which is often difficult to navigate, not to mention that electrification goes hand in hand with automation, and autonomous vehicles “could really be an equalizer for disabled people,” as Town pointed out. But charging infrastructure also has to be built with accessibility in mind, Town said. “EV infrastructure in many ways is being retrofitted onto our existing fuel-based automotive infrastructure,” Town said. “Disabled people know better than most that retrofitting often leaves a lot to be desired. Have you ever been in an older building that’s been retrofitted with air conditioning and you’re like, ah, this doesn’t work all that well?” Last year, the US Access Board, released a technical document with design recommendations for accessible electric vehicle charging stations across the country, and automaker Ford announced it has developed a prototype robot charging station that drivers can operate via their smartphone. ‘Let’s not make accessibility an afterthought’ The challenges of making EVs accessible are nothing that the industry has not faced before, according to Frayne. “We’ve been working on it for a couple years already,” Frayne said, “And electrification is not gonna be a switch that’s thrown overnight.” But, “let’s not make accessibility an afterthought,” he added. For now, a good transition car that can be made accessible is the Toyota Sienna, a hybrid.