An electric car maker based in Austin, TX has done something amazing with their tech. Not only have they designed a car that is eco-friendly, it’s people-friendly too— specifically, people who use wheelchairs! Being able to drive is one of those things that grants us all a certain independence, no matter where we are in life. Having your own vehicle also makes it easier to be mobile whenever you want. For people who use wheelchairs, having a vehicle that’s been modified is not something that’s always attainable. Ms. Stacy Zoern, CEO of Community Cars Inc. and wheelchair-bound her whole life, first learned about this “Kenguru” back in 2010. Since then, she’s been working to promote the sleek electric car to help make transportation accessible to others who want to be more independently mobile.
After discovering the company was struggling, Stacy partnered with the president at Kenguru to buy the Hungarian-based company’s assets. At that stage, the car was still a prototype, and Community Cars Inc. was born to save Kenguru from falling through the cracks. Now Ms. Zoern is manufacturing the car herself. Stacy shared how challenging it can be to maneuver in and out of a car, and the toll it takes on someone who is physically challenged. The Kenguru is large enough for one person, with all its controls at hand level to make it easier to operate. The fact that the car allows for a person to easily slide inside, still secure in a wheelchair, is a huge win. It’s designed for speeds up to 25 mph, as allowable by law, and is built more for local errand running and short distances.
While there have been production delays due to redesigning the Kenguru for operation in the U.S. and some funding hiccups, the company remains hopeful. Bootstrapping the production of the vehicle has been quite a challenge, as getting capital for the business hasn’t been easy. Though Kenguru received angel funding to move the project forward, at Stacy’s meeting with President Obama she cited how difficult it is to obtain bank loans when you aren’t wealthy.