Company Develops Car To Make Transportation Easier For Drivers In Wheelchairs
For many people in the modern world, a car is synonymous with freedom. After all, what's more liberating than having the ability to grab the keys, get up, and go wherever your heart pleases? Yet while transportation — and the inherent autonomy it provides — is possible for people in wheelchairs, it’s certainly not easy. As Stacy Zoern describes in the video below, the process of climbing out of a manual wheelchair and into a modified vehicle (and then collapsing the chair) takes considerable time and puts substantial strain on a person's shoulders.
That's why Zoern, who has muscular dystrophy and understands firsthand the transportation limitations of being in a wheelchair, felt compelled to provide an alternative. In a video uploaded on Feb. 11, 2014, the former patent lawyer describes the moment she encountered a prototype that struck a very personal chord. The product in question was a small automobile called the Kenguru, which would enable folks to drive without ever having to leave their wheelchair. However, after being told that the Kenguru had never advanced beyond prototype, Zoern took matters into her own hands and began to approach individual investors to make this transportation solution a reality.
In terms of logistics, the Kenguru is an electric car (it can travel 60 miles on an overnight charge) with a top speed of 25 miles per hour. However, Zoern defends the technology, stating that while it may not be the fastest vehicle, the Kenguru enables people in wheelchairs to do something as simple as run local errands — a formerly daunting task for many individuals. With a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $24,995, Kenguru's website states that the products are also "emissions-free, maintenance-free, transmission-free." Quest adds that while the original Kenguru model features handlebar technology in order to steer the vehicle, Zoern plans to develop a second prototype that would be operable by joystick, allowing those individuals with limited upper body mobility to drive as well.
According to its website, Kenguru is currently based in Zoern's hometown of Austin, Texas, and plans to produce 1,000 cars in 2016 for those early adopters who reserve online. And this market release won't be without personal meaning to Zoern, who explains in the video below how determined she's been to see this dream come to fruition since her initial involvement with the company in 2011. In fact, she doesn't even take a salary, Zoern is that passionate about making the freedom of transportation available to everyone.