Needed: An Electric Car for Disabled Drivers
The number of people with physical disabilities has dramatically grown in the last 10 years, but no one is still not engaged in finding cheap and smart solutions for their mobility needs.
European statistics show that the 1% of the population needs a wheelchair and another 5.6% needs an aid for walk. In March 2003 the German Statistics Office has calculated that 1,56 million German citizens (1.9% of the population) need permanently or temporary a wheelchair.
In Italy 60.000 citizens need a wheelchair, in Europe we are talking about 7,1 million of people. 1
In order to preserve their autonomy, those people must buy a van and, obviously, make it “wheelchair accessible” with an after market conversion process: in Italy a standard wheelchair van conversion (for driving) costs around 15.000 € on a van that costs about 25.000 € (excluding VAT) for a total expense of more than 40.000 € 2, and the most important part of it is for the on-board ramp and the power seats ( about 13.700 € over a total of more than 15.000 €)
Making a standard already adapted vehicle, which have the most common devices and aid already integrated to accommodate people with handicap with their own wheel chair is a huge unsolved problem, that the major car producers don't want to face.
In fact the actual course for adapt an already existing car is the better situation for them: they don't have to put any attention on those needs during the design stage, and they leave the burden of the adaptation to the final user, that with a lot of after market modifications, is forced to spend the same amount of money that is necessary to buy a new car.
The 52% of disabled people in Europe is not admitted to the world of work 3, in this worst scenario, not all the persons/families can afford an expense like that for their mobility, so many people are unable to going simply out of home.
Re-arranging and reducing the spaces and including the most common modification at the project stage is the solution.
I'm sure that, following the Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 1970 - The Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000” (United Kingdom), we can easily design a EV suitable for the commute drive needs of the physically impaired.
Using already existing systems and implementing new designs, is possible to build a small EV with a top speed of 80 Km/h with a classic power-seat transfer system and the on-board ramp integrated in the body of the car.
With the proper management of the internal spaces, this EV will have the same dimensions of a normal car.
This will allow to produce an “already converted” vehicle that can be sold on the market at a lower price than buy and convert vans and will make necessary only the after market implementation of the adaptation specifically connected to a particular disease (eg.:Hand accelerators or Multifunctional electronic devices for auxiliary controls ), that represents the minor part of adaptation costs. (1.300 € over a total of more than 15.000 €)
The project will also have another big social aspect: promote the integration of the disadvantaged persons. In fact the construction of the EV can be performed in Italy where local administrations could finance some particular kind of corporations that admit to work a certain percentage of disadvantaged persons.
An accessible EV is a close reality, but the develop can be possible only if a producer will accept the challenge.
Kenguru Low-Speed Electric Vehicle for DisabledThe Kenguru electric vehicle was developed by a Hungarian company specializing in mobility equipment for the handicap since 1915. It's top speed is 30 mph and range is approximately 30 miles on a charge.
1 Movement project - Modular Versatile Mobility Enhancement Technology - http://www.fortec.tuwien.ac.at/reha.e/projects/movement/movement_it/movobjectives.html
2 Various quotes from dealers - 2008
3 ILO – International Labor Organization ( http:// www . ilo .org/ ) Report – 14 May 2007
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