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A Car Built for You

Reprinted from PN October 2012

A low-speed electric vehicle is built from the ground up for wheelchair users.

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A car company in Texas is putting a whole new spin on wheelchair-accessible automobiles.

Community Cars in Pflugerville, Texas, near Austin has begun producing a low-speed electric vehicle that is purposely built from the ground up for people in wheelchairs.  The single-seat Kenguru (pronounced like “kangaroo”) is 100% electric, has a top speed of 25 mph (federally regulated), is street legal for community use and has a range of 60 miles.


The Kenguru is an electric vehicle offered by Community Cars in Pflugerville, Texas.

Currently only available for manual wheelchair users, the Kenguru features an electrical rear door opening system operated by remote control. The rear entry ramp can be operated at curb or street height. Drivers roll their chair right into the car and drive it with a motorcycle handlebar.

Although not designed for use on the highway or roads with a speed limit higher than 45 mph, the Kenguru is perfect for allowing wheelchair users to get out and about to local places in their neighborhood such as the grocery store or a park.

Although the vehicle was originally developed in Hungary, the idea to bring production of the Kenguru to the United States came out of the need from the company’s CEO. Stacy Zoern has used a wheelchair since birth and first drove when she was 19. Zoern wrecked her fully customized $80,000 van just a few months later. She hasn’t driven since that day roughly 16 years ago.

Flash ahead to just a couple of years ago and Zoern was surfing the Internet to see what improvements had been made in accessible vehicles. She came across the Kenguru and learned the company that made it was in financial trouble. Zoern scraped together enough money to buy the company, quit her job practicing law and brought it to Texas, where it’s been in operation since 2010.

The ironic thing is, Zoern can’t drive a Kenguru right now because she is unable to operate the handlebar controls. Because of her disability, she needs a joystick control device. Zoern says they are currently developing a joystick-controlled Kenguru that will also be a bit larger to handle the bigger wheelchairs often used by quads.

Zoern says she is tired of depending on other people all the time to get around and looks forward to a time when she can independently get to work, go to the movies, get to the doctor, and meet her friends.

The Kenguru has received a positive and strong response at trade shows around the world. Zoern says they have no dealers in the U.S. just yet and are in low-rate production with a lot of orders in Europe. They are able to sell a few direct here and there.

The quickest way to get one now is through the website Rockethub (rockethub.com/projects/9512-kenguru-joystick-model). They will ship a Kenguru in two months for what Zoern refers to as an $18,000 “donation.”

For more information, visit kenguru.com or rockethub.com/projects/9512-kenguru-joystick-model.  

 

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A Car Built for You

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