Ever wondered whether an electric car for wheelchair users is a real thing, or whether the only choice is just standard fuel models? Wondered if disability converted electric cars are a practical solution for those living with disability?
We have. And if you use a wheelchair or live with a condition that affects motor function or mobility, you probably have too.
Everyone says electric vehicles are the future. And from an environmental perspective, it makes sense. But is our community included in this future?
We looked into what’s available when it comes to electric cars and people living with disabilities. What we found was although there are options, there’s still a lot of ground to be made up before electric vehicles are truly disability-friendly.
Electric car for people with disabilities
If you wanted to go and buy an electric wheelchair accessible vehicle or an electric car suitable for people living with disability right now, you’d be quite short on options.
There is one option called Kenguru. This allows you to drive without even leaving your wheelchair. But it isn’t yet available in Australia. It looks a little bit like a SMART car and comes in at a very reasonable price point. Of course, the main drawback is that it fits only the driver. This is a huge limiting factor if the wheelchair user is unable to drive or if they need to travel with support workers or carers. That said, it’s still a step in the right direction for more inclusive electric vehicle manufacturing.
So is it possible to get a disability converted electric car? Or a wheelchair accessible electric vehicle? It’s not easy but yes, it is possible. Here’s what you need to know about electric cars for wheelchair users.
Disability converted cars – electric or not?
Let’s keep in mind that almost nobody buys disability converted cars “off the shelf”. First of all you need to do an assessment with a driver trained occupational therapist to determine what modifications you need. And only then would you begin to look for cars which might be suitable, before having modifications and conversions installed to suit your needs.
So while there might not yet be electric disability converted cars on the showroom floor, there are electric vehicles that can be modified to suit the needs of many people living with disability. The best model will depend entirely on your own needs and preferences.
When it comes to wheelchair accessible vehicles that are electric, there are options out there. Vans and larger sedans are typically the most popular choices. Of course, you’d still need to go through the usual channels of adding ramps, tie downs, swivel seats and more, potentially including lifts or hoists to suit your needs.
But this isn’t quite as simple as making a regular large vehicle wheelchair accessible. The main challenge lies in fitting ramps to electric vehicles. The reason for this? Most electric cars have their battery pack and important electronics under the floor, so lowering the floor to accommodate a wheelchair can pose a problem.
Drawbacks to electric vehicles for people with disabilities
One downside is that you’re unlikely to find too many secondhand electric cars for wheelchair users or people living with disability. Or at least not yet. Perhaps in future when electric vehicles are more common!
That said, buying second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles can be tricky anyway. Your vehicle specs are closely linked to your specific needs. So it’s often hard to find a used one that fits the bill.
It’s also worth noting that many electric vehicles can’t travel long distances. This is frustrating for everybody, but can pose an additional challenge to people who specifically want an electric disability converted car or an electric wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Plus, often these cars have to transport heavy equipment or have modifications that make the vehicle body heavier. All of this results in an even lower range. So trips usually need to be short, or interspersed with plenty of charging breaks.
Which brings us to the point of the actual charging of electric cars, disability converted or not. If you had a wheelchair accessible electric vehicle, being able to easily get in and out at charging points would be a key consideration – especially with a short range.
Unfortunately not all charging points are easily accessible for people living with disability. The height of the screen could be problematic, as could the mobility needed to operate the charging cables. Places with charging points may not have accessible bathrooms or rest points either, which will very likely be needed on longer trips.
Are electric vehicles suitable for wheelchair users and people living with disability?
There’s no doubt that electric vehicles will gain popularity over the next couple of decades. However, they’re not suitable for regular use by people with disabilities just yet. As a result of this, many people living with disability opt for petrol cars, diesel cars or hybrid cars.
Perhaps there’s a gap in the market for an enterprising entrepreneur? After all, electric wheelchair accessible vehicles and electric disability converted cars sound like a dream. Especially considering the price of fuel nowadays! (On that, read our article on how to save fuel in today’s landscape)
Insuring your current vehicle
We know that wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability converted cars are expensive. Electric or not. And more than that, they’re an investment into your quality of life and ability to live more independently.
It can be pricey to replace or repair your beloved vehicle, not to mention stressful and frustrating. That’s why our car insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability converted cars covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle.
Further, if you have disability parking permit holder, Blue Badge Insurance will give you up 25% off your disability car insurance premium. Why not see how much you can save with us?