• Jun 20, 2012
When it comes to getting around in a wheelchair, options are limited. There are wheelchair-accessible vans, but over that past 10 years the costs to convert a vehicle to accommodate a driver and their chair has gone up to about $80,000. Wouldn't it be great if there was a less bulky, more stylish option for getting around town? Texas-based lawyer Stacy Zoern started with the idea to bring personal, green transportation to those in wheelchairs after finding the Kenguru EV online. She discovered that this unique vehicle had been produced in Hungary, but that the company had run out of funding. Zoern put together a business plan, raised $2 million and bought the company, bringing all parts and manufacturing to the U.S. Once all the parts were in place, she incorporated Community Cars, in Pflugerville, Texas.

The Kenguru is an all-electric city car with a major selling point: a rearward ramp allowing drivers to roll in with their wheelchairs and fasten directly to safety equipment from their chair. Zoern says that the Kenguru will allow many who can't afford the big vans to travel in small urban areas.

The Kenguru has a max speed of 25 mph and a range of 60 miles. We imagine seeing this used in small cities where going 25 mph wouldn't be a problem for other motorists. The Kenguru is so compact that it would likely fit in most bike lanes.

An 8-hour charge is required to fully recharge the Kenguru, but after the wait--and as we experienced--the Kenguru is a lot of fun to drive. The EV is driven by two permanent magnet motors outputting 2 kW each power the rear 12 x 2.2-inch wheels. Our drive impressions of the Kenguru are mostly positive in that the car has good pickup and turns quickly, displaying agile handling. Beyond drive impressions, the car works to solve many of the problems wheelchair users have when commuting.

KENGURU

By locating throttle and brakes on the steering handlebars (similar to a four-wheeler) the Kenguru allows people without the use of their legs to control the vehicle. Currently in development is a joystick-controller that will let those with limited arm strength to drive. This is the ultimate goal for Zoern, as she is unable to drive without the joystick model. She has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and has never walked.

The price of the Kenguru is $25,000, but there are many government incentives--both for EVs and folks with disabilities--that can reduce the costs to $20,000 or, in some cases, free.

Community Cars is in need of further funding to meet demand and make the dream of a joystick drive Kenguru a reality.



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