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Kenguru, the first drive-from-wheelchair EV, enters production

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July 23, 2012

The Kenguru drive-from-wheelchair electric car

The Kenguru drive-from-wheelchair electric car

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Though its undoubtedly true to say that mobility vehicles designed for wheelchair access exist, like AM General's MV-1 these generally relegate the wheelchair user to backseat passenger. Vehicles that do allow a wheelchair behind the controls are expensive made-to-order conversions of people carriers and mini-buses. The Kenguru is about as far from a people carrier as it's possible to get, being a small nimble electric vehicle, but one designed specifically for quick, easy access by, and driving from, a wheelchair. Its makers claim it is the first drive-from-wheelchair electric car.

The Kenguru has only a single door to the rear of the vehicle for direct wheelchair access. It's opened by remote control. Inside the driver is nestled in a 350-kg (772-lb) fiberglass cocoon 2125 mm (83.6 in) long, 1620 mm (63.8 in) wide and 1525 m (60 in) tall. That's 375 mm (14.8 in) shorter than a smart fortwo, and only 15 mm (0.6 in) wider: extremely compact, in other words. Empty weight with the batteries increases to 550 kg (1200 lb).

Power from the batteries is delivered to two 2-kW motors located on the rear axle. These afford a maximum speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), a range of between 70 and 110 km (43 and 68 miles) and a climbing ability limited to 20-percent gradients - modest, but Kenguru is positioned very much for short inner-city trips (the phrase "enough is as good as a feast" irresistibly springs to mind). Motorcycle-style handlebars provide steering, though a joystick-controlled version is currently in development.

Initially developed by Hungarian company Kenguru Services, the Kenguru has design is at least six years old. It was spotted by Texan lawyer Stacy Zoern (a wheelchair user herself) who setup Community Cars which now manufacturers Kengurus in Pflugerville.

The Kenguru is priced at US$25,000, but that this can be significantly reduced where electric vehicle or vocational rehabilitation incentives are available. The vehicle is set for a US launch in 6 to 12 months. Distribution in a number of European countries should follow. Community Cars is currently seeking investment through RocketHub to develop the joystick-controlled model.

Source: Kenguru

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
15 Comments

I think it is really cool looking and really neat for those who are in a wheelchair who want to drive. I think it would be great for downtown trips where the speed limit is low; like an NEV for those in wheelchairs. :)

I think it is more practical than this motorcycle; especially if it rains or other inclement weather. http://www.mobilityworks.com/wheelchair-motorcycle.php

BigWarpGuy
23rd July, 2012 @ 05:22 am PDT

$25,000 ! Yep, can see those fly out of the shop.

Anyway, bit late, they've been around for 60 years in the Uk.... http://www.3wheelers.com/endinva.html

JPAR
23rd July, 2012 @ 05:33 am PDT

A mobility scooter with a shell.

Slowburn
23rd July, 2012 @ 07:47 am PDT

The irony is if a mobile person were to drive this and get hit by an SUV they would most certainly need a wheel chair.

Michael Mantion
23rd July, 2012 @ 05:06 pm PDT

Three main problems with this concept:

1. Cost!

2. No storage area.

3. Speed (top speed of 60mph would be more like it).

Have an electric motor coupled to a CVT would help with that.

Billy Brooks
23rd July, 2012 @ 10:02 pm PDT

Cost, should be in the range of up to $5000, should have a tilt out front storage box big enough for a weeks shopping. Saw this type of thing before, but it had one front wheel and 2stroke power with out a roof. I would be interested if I could take it up a shopping isle.

pointyup
23rd July, 2012 @ 10:50 pm PDT

It would be good to integrate a powered wheelchair with a cacoon. The wheelchair's battery and wheels shared with the cocoon. The wheelchair itself would have to be quite powerful. The cocoon put on as desired. .

Dawar Saify
24th July, 2012 @ 06:19 am PDT

This project has been in my photo album 5 to 10 years. I have visually customized wheelchairs for my use many years, and thought this would look great with pinstripes, fading, lace patterns, etc. I very much like the idea, but people usually think I am off my rocker when I drive my flame-painted power wheelchair! I am afraid custom painting this Kenguru might be too much!

Chris Jordan
24th July, 2012 @ 10:09 am PDT

It would bre interesting to know how much this would cost if made in Hungary or China instead of the US. Another example of high cost on the home market no doubt in part to fleece the vocational rehabilitation incentives program.

Something as simple as this should not be this expensive.

Its also funny how armchair detractors find fault with a much needed mobility device but will justify Harleys,quad bikes,in fact any toy that gives them a buzz or makes them feel part of the crowd, None of which has safety equipment.

dgate
24th July, 2012 @ 12:56 pm PDT

@Jpar,

This is a very different proposition to the 'Invacar' product- that 'invalid car' (to use its very non-PC official description) was powered by a rear-mounted petrol engine.

This electric version does not require the owner to decamp from a wheelchair in order to drive it, as the driver used his/her own wheelchair. The 'Invacar' was therefore only suitable for users who were capable of using a non-powered wheelchair, and was therefore far less versatile. The 'Invacar' was notoriously overpowered for a tiny 3 wheeler and extremely dangerous. This electric vehicle is unlikely to win any awards for driver safety either, but at least when carrying a user with an electric wheelchair (which tend to weigh over 100kgs on their own) the centre of gravity should be fairly low. So for short urban journeys this looks to be a real winner.

dgate above makes a good point about armchair detractors finding fault with mobility devices but justify Harleys, Quad Bikes, etc. Certainly there are risks for the user with this vehicle, but the benefits of social inclusivity are immense.

Hope to see an affordable version in the UK soon.

bergamot69
25th July, 2012 @ 12:13 pm PDT

This looks like a useful vehicle for many though I have to wonder why the speed is so low. It needs to be 45-50mph to be safer in traffic and takes no more materials. just design.

As far as safety that again depends on the designer, builder. Afterall F-1 are lighter yet survive 200mph crashes.

A nice $10k 60 mph version of this for not only wheelchair userers but anyone needing low cost transport, especially commuting such small vehicles will be in our future and can be built for that with a nice profit.

I already drive mine at 25% of a similar ICE costs using lead batteries and fork lift tech and a composite body/chassis that is stronger than a steel vesrsion at 50% of it's weight.

So you haters, trolls think of me passing all the gas stations by while you slave away paying so much for gasoline. I'll be laughing all the way to the bank saving $150-200/month.

jerryd
26th July, 2012 @ 04:39 am PDT

Another good reason why the inductive charger (the user would not need to leave the vehicle for recharging, just park it over any inductive charging unit) should be installed along with solar PV battery rechargers (so batteries can be mechanically changed without driver assistance). Not paying for fuel for many years would help to raise the quality of life for many.

dgate's mention of cost control is valid. Marketers should not be fleecing the disabled or overcharging publicly funded programs.

electric38
9th August, 2012 @ 03:15 pm PDT

While the initial costs may be a bit high, the money savings from no gas will definitely offset that. But 28 mph?? That definitely needs to be higher as a matter of safety! Even most inner city drivers drive faster than that! Also, is this a vehicle someone NOT in a wheelchair could ride in along with a driver who IS in a chair? This is definitely a car that needs to be made though...

Michell Slife
20th September, 2012 @ 07:10 am PDT

I'll take one in red, it would be great to go to the grocery store & use this as a cart...park it on your patio, much like a bike, ride it on the side of the road...much like a bike...

Merry Robinette
20th September, 2012 @ 07:44 am PDT

Did anyone ever think if this vehicle was hit from behind that the driver might not be able to get out!!!

Donna Moynihan
20th September, 2012 @ 07:55 pm PDT
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