Today I went on a friends facebook wall and she was lauding the benefits to the disabled community of a car specially built for wheelchair users, well with the work I do in the community I was excited until that is I realised a texas company had bought the rights to an old dog with no new tricks. the car below is called the kenguru a car which originally a decade ago was promoted as being designed in eastern europe.
As seen in the research below this was originally a hungarian car,
The Kenguru has only a single door to the rear of the vehicle for direct wheelchair access, It is 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
Here is my problem, when the Hungarian car was originally being promoted here in America I met and spoke with a rep at an abilities promotion and the following was discovered
1/its top speed makes it barely legal on open road, and unsafe in a situation when sudden acceleration is needed to get out of trouble.
2/it’s ability to survive frontal rear or side impact didn’t meet Us safety standards.
3/ the fact that it is marketed to paraplegic, quadra plaegis amputees and others permanantly confined to a wheelchair is a problem , most seriously impaired have leg shin and thigh straps and those with spinal injury have no ability to remove themselves from a life and death situation after a collision because there is only one exit and that is the rear.
4/ one of the most common crashes on free ways and in inner city is rear ending according to the auto repair industry and if you have no use of your lower body from spinal injury and you’re strapped into a chair and the only exit is at the rear and you have just been hit by a vehicle at speed in the rear the chance of escape is none and if the vehicle ended up in water and landed on its rear or the rear was under pressure from water the lack of ability to escape could cause loss of life.
Before I was disabled I have been in a couple of auto collisions and had use of my legs when I was rear ended and flipped on my side I kicked out the windscreen, the other time I was seriously injured because it was a fibre glass car like the kenguru and it broke into dangerous shards on impact and the body collapsed around my then usable legs.
There are professionals in the auto industry that teach how to escape from a submerged vehicles, and one way is to kick out the windscreen or a side window but these vehicles are driven by people most times without the ability to kick anything anytime so what happens then?
Don’t get me wrong, I dream of a day when a SAFE collision tested federally approved vehicle goes on the market that can be operated by the seriously disabled, there are many great reputable companies doing conversions now but built from ground vehicles have not had great success and this one has many faults.
I am all for a vehicle company dedicating their time and developement money to a wonderfull purpose built vehicle, that meets all safety requirements and speed requirements to travel safely on our roads and not endanger the community you are targeting for sales any more than their disabilities already have. But sadly this is not such a vehicle.Open it up call it an all weather scooter, and admit it does not have sufficient speed to carry somene safely in all traffic, but until you do you are doing nothing more than rehashing eastern europes failures and anyone who bought the lada niva can tell you how that works. Sorry as an Australian I have to tell my readers this kenguru is all looks no hop.