KENGURU: Cars for the physically challenged


As we grow older, there inevitably comes an urge to be independent, and in whatever way or whatever it will cost us, we usually. This invention must have touched a soft spot in the heart of wheelchair users as it did mine when writing this story. 

Kenguru's electric car has no seats, and you drive it by putting your hands on motorcycle-style handlebars. It's built for wheelchair users, who can roll right through the rear hatch of the car into the driver's area. The vehicle will cost you $25,000, but that's before factoring in green energy and mobility tax incentives from the government. Kenguru, which is Hungarian for "kangaroo," was founded in Hungary but moved to the US when it struggled to find venture capital. The Austin-based company car which at 7 feet by 5 feet is even smaller than a Smart Car doesn't expect its drivers to be involved in any high-speed chases. It goes 25 mph, and is thus meant for the average trip to the grocery store or down the street headed to work.


The Kenguru has only a single door to the rear of the vehicle for direct wheelchair access. It's opened by remote control. Inside the driver is nestled in a 350-kg (772-lb) fiberglass cocoon 2125 mm (83.6 in) long, 1620 mm (63.8 in) wide and 1525 m (60 in) tall. Empty weight with the batteries increases to 550 kg (1200 lb).

Power from the batteries is delivered to two 2-kW motors located on the rear axle. These afford a maximum speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), a range of between 70 and 110 km (43 and 68 miles) and a climbing ability limited to 20-percent gradients - modest, but Kenguru is positioned very much for short inner-city trips (the phrase "enough is as good as a feast" irresistibly springs to mind). Motorcycle-style handlebars provide steering, though a joystick-controlled version is currently in development.