Woman moves wheelchair car plant to USJan 31 01:32
What Stacy Zoern, a lawyer, just pulled off down in Pflugerville, Texas should be on front page of The Wall Street Journal. Frustrated by the high price of modified vans, she ran across the car of her dreams online, a smart-car for wheelchair-users called the Kenguru (pronounced "kangaroo"), but the company was in Hungary and had stopped production. But that didn’t stop her. She just partnered with the company in 2010 and raised over $1.4 million to move it stateside. They began manufacturing the first cars this month.
It may just seem like a stroke of good luck that Stacy met the right investors to help fund her business plan, but in fact the environment is finally ripe for such an investment. At only $25,000 per vehicle and run on full electric power, the Kenguru solves the mobility and transportation needs of urban dwellers everywhere. The hatchback opens and you just roll on in and drive from your chair. You can use the traditional steering wheel or it can be driven by a handlebar joystick. Even able-bodied people will find the design of this car enticing because of it’s functionality. I mean, who doesn’t love a giant door?
Stacy, 31, who was born with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), lost her expensive modified van years ago in a crash. That span of years of having no vehicle no doubt drove her to start looking for something that didn‘t require a small house loan (about $50,000 on top of the van). And this is always my fear. I have full coverage on my 2007 modified Dodge Grand Caravan, but I highly doubt it would cover all the modifications if it was ever totaled. What would I do? What would you do?
And this is why the Kenguru is so great. The price for everything you need doesn’t go over $25k. But of course there’s one big drawback to this car: It only goes 45 km per hour, which is 27 miles per hour (not fast enough to take onto any major highway), so you’re limited to city streets. This is great if you live in the city, but bad for anyone else. The car goes 43 - 68 miles on a full charge and can seat both a wheelchair-user and one other person.
To break even, the company, now called Community Cars Inc., needs to sell 1,200 cars each fiscal year. Here’s to hoping this happens so this amazing company, providing green, alternative AND reasonably-priced vehicles for us (finally!), thrives in the US for years to come.
Oh and Stacy, you rock the casbah HARD.
- Community Cars Inc on Facebook
- NBC News Austin: Community Cars roll out in Pflugerville
- Interview with Stacy Zoern for ABC News in Austin
- Austin Business Journal, “Austin lawyer brings Hungary automaker here”
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1. Steve Chagnon | Feb 03 06:02
I hope these folks make the abilities expo in NY this year .... an ideal place for urban transport
2. Tiffiny | Feb 11 05:44
@Steve They better if they're smart!
3. dujy99 | Jan 18 12:27
I watch this company when it started in Hungray and they were selling under $10,000. Again another great disability need at an expensive cost.GM has electric small cars $10,000 range.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.