Kenguru - The Electric Vehicle for Wheelchair Users
Tom Spendlove posted on February 28, 2014 |
A new vehicle will allow wheelchair users to drive without aid from others.

Stacy Zoern was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. At the age of 19 she was driving a van that was retrofitted with $50,000 worth of accessibility equipment, hit a curb and the vehicle was no longer safe to drive. In 2010, more than a decade later, she found prototypes of the Kenguru community car online. She contacted the inventor in Hungary and offered to help bring the vehicle to the United States.

The Kenguru is a low speed vehicle meant to be driven around a neighborhood. It reaches a top speed of 25 mph and can travel around 60 miles per day. The entire footprint of the fully electric vehicle is around 7 feet by 5 feet. Watching the Kenguru drive down the road in promotional videos gives you the scale that it is smaller than a Smart car, and much smaller than a fullsize sedan.

Kengurus will cost between $20,000 and $25,000 when released, and Zoern hopes that the vehicle will be ready for sale sometime in 2015. Advance orders and placeholder reservations of $100 are now being taken through the company's website.

The value of the Kenguru over other wheelchair accessible vehicles is that any user can enter the back of the Kenguru and secure themselves without aid. Most vehicles outfitted for a wheelchair user to drive still need someone to secure the user in the vehicle and stow the wheelchair. The load time is pegged at five to fifteen seconds for the average user to enter the vehicle and be ready to go.

Even though the first Kengurus aren't yet for sale the second generation models are in the prototype stages. Power wheelchair users will be able to drive the next generation vehicle with a joystick, and this is the model that Zoern herself will one day drive.

First year production is expected to be 500 vehicles, and 4000 Kengurus per year is Stacy's goal for the future. Like the Elio and Terrafugia vehicles discussed in previous articles, the Kenguru is a radical departure from current product. There is a high risk introducing a dramatically new product into the automotive market but Stacy Zoern is willing to put in the work.

Recommended For You