Have you seen those wheelchair accessible low-speed vehicles online yet? The ones that look like half a car? Since none of these companies have sold their vehicles in the states yet, unless you are able to make it to one of the Abilities Expos or the showrooms, the best way to actually check out these new low-speed vehicles is via online videos.
Keyboard Cat and David After Dentist can feel safe, as none of these videos have the excitement or catchiness of viral videos in the making, but you can learn a good deal about the similarities and differences by investing a few minutes in YouTube.
The first thing you are likely to notice is the visual similarity. Good luck telling the Chairiot Solo from the Eco Mobility. The Kenguru is easier to distinguish thanks to a more-rounded front and undivided windows with sliding openings. The Kenguru’s unique handlebar steering apparatus is also easy to see.
Here’s the Chairiot:
And here’s the Kenguru:
Watching the Chairiot solo and Kenguru cruise around, it is easy to see how convenient the vehicles could be. At the same time, the lack of space and speed is equally obvious and restricting.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to be learned isn’t about the vehicles themselves, but the companies. Both Kenguru and Chairiot have their own YouTube channels, each with six videos, while EcoCentre only has a link to a news report. Without reading too much into that, as a consumer considering a $20,000 purchase, the more polished online presences of Kenguru and Chairiot (which extends to their respective websites) have to be reassuring. Personally, I also found the comment by EcoCentre President Ramon Alvarez that “Honestly, nobody pays attention to [people with disabilities]” slightly condescending.
If there is a star of the few available online videos, it has to be Kenguru’s Stacy Zoern. The seven-minute “Kenguru Interview” provides an informative behind-the-scenes look at the travails of bringing a new vehicle, like the Kenguru, to market. Zoern is honest about the financial and logistical issues her company has faced. She also shows the insight that only a wheelchair user could bring to a project like this.
Here’s the Kenguru interview:
Look for my in-depth story on wheelchair accessible low-speed vehicles in your June issue of New Mobility.