We’ve covered this invention on social media over the last year or so, but Kenguru , a new electric car manufactured in the U.S., promises to give disabled people additional independence.
Here’s the lowdown from their website.
The Kenguru: Low Speed, High Impact
The Kenguru is a low-speed vehicle that gives people in wheelchairs the freedom of mobility. The car runs on electricity and can travel from 45 to 60 miles on a single charge. The Kenguru is unique in that it is built specifically to address the needs of those in wheelchairs. The back opens up, allowing drivers to wheel themselves directly into the car. This makes it simple for drivers to pull in, lock their chair into place and hit the road, maneuvering the vehicle with a simple joystick.
This represents a huge step forward— right now, the only other mobility options for wheelchair users are standard vehicles that have been modified to be used by disabled people. However, they are cumbersome to enter and still require the individual to physically move themselves into position to drive. These vehicles tend to be larger and consequently unwieldy, and the cost, sometimes upwards of $100,000, means that they are not easily accessible. Kenguru provides a low-cost, convenient alternative that makes everyday activities like running errands or catching a movie simple for wheelchair users.
Kenguru began in Hungary in the early 2000s. While the first prototype was completed in 2006, the product has had a tumultuous history. In the wake of global economic instability the product was put on hold in 2008. It languished in a world of no funding for two years, a product with the potential to change lives but without the backing to make that a reality. An enterprising young woman discovered Kenguru, and her passion for the product and company mission helped revitalize the company and bring it when it is today.
The Road Ahead
Like the low-speed engine that could, Kenguru has come a long way through tireless hard work. The company has debuted ten vehicles in Europe which have been well received. The team is currently fundraising to complete their final round of improvements to the design. Once they hit their goal, mass production of the vehicle can begin. This is slated for early 2015.
While this may be the first time you’ve heard of Kenguru, it won’t be the last. The company is gaining traction in the media as well as on the ground. They were recently selected for a program through Dell which gives them a chance for further international PR as well as a media blitz here in America. This means big exposure and big opportunity. But as exciting as that is, it probably won’t top last year’s big highlight. Zoern got to meet President Obama when he visited Austin in 2013, an event which she described as “the most intense experience of [her] life.”
Kenguru is more than the next widget in a tech-hungry society because it’s creating an entirely new kind of vehicle that will revolutionize the lives of wheelchair users. In the world, there are over 25 million people worldwide who need Kenguru’s mobility solution to live with the freedom most take for granted. Creating something amazing to help people who are disabled around the world is what keeps Zoern going. She said that the emails she receives nearly every day from people who have found the Kenguru help her get through the struggles of burn rates and bottom lines. She hears her story mirrored by countless others who yearn for freedom not available for everybody. Helping those people is at the core of the company. As Zoern succinctly put it, “the Kenguru gives people independence, which is something that people who aren’t disabled take for granted. That independence is absolutely necessary for the quality of life.”
One to keep an eye on for sure!