Stacy Zoern, a disabled woman, designs a wheelchair-friendly electric car that could help disabled people like her become more independent. The car allows her easy access to the driver’s seat without ever needing to get out of her wheelchair. The product should be launched by mid-2017.
Stacy Zoern was an intellectual-property attorney in Austin Texas, when she decided to quit her job and build her new company, Kenguru, to work on the new idea.
By a mere push of a button, the back of the Kenguru car lifts up and a ramp on the floor lowers down to allow her to roll in with her wheel chair. Then, she can roll up towards the driver’s seat and drive.
The Kenguru is a mere 7 feet by 5 feet, which is smaller than a Smart Car, and only has room for the wheelchair inside. At the front are motorcycle-style handlebars to steer the car. The car has an estimated range of 60 miles on an eight-hour charge, and has a top speed of 35 miles per hour. When the car comes on the market, it would sell for approximately $25,000.
“People with disabilities are a very underserved segment of the population, with huge needs,” says Zoern. “Just getting to work is a huge challenge.” Zoern was born with a severe form of muscular dystrophy that had her spend her entire life in a wheelchair.
When she was 19 years old, she and her passenger were injured when she had lost control of her car and hit a curb, which led to a total loss. She didn’t drive again for more than 10 years. After that point, her life was limited to legal firms that were close to where she lived. “Otherwise I would have had to pay for someone to take me to work each day. But downtown living is very expensive. It cost my entire paycheck just to get there.”
All her frustrations have ultimately led her to designing the Kenguru, to help people like her become more independent and self-sufficient.
Zoern had designed the car almost two years ago and plans to launch her first product within the next 6 months. According to the Kenguru website, they ask that we stay tuned as the company goes through an internal reorganization to produce the Kenguru car and more disabled-friendly products and services.