Monday, February 2, 2009

Wheelchairs Go Green :)

With cars going green with hybrids and fuel cells, wheelchairs and scooters using these green technologies was inevitable. While you would expect a company like Toyota or Honda to be developing such devices, Suzuki is one of the first companies to apply the technology in the powered wheelchair market. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of such products in Asia, and its latest model, the MIO, features a fuel cell that uses methanol as a fuel source to generate hydrogen and therefore electricity. The tank holds about a gallon and that’s sufficient to provide MIO with a range of approximately 25 miles. There’s also an LCD display showing fuel level and power sources. Therefore, unlike wheelchairs that rely solely on mains charging of the battery, it addresses users’ fears of being stranded at some distance from their home. It is also easy to refill. A large capacity Li-ion secondary battery acts as a store for the electricity generated and a back up source of power. The modern design features armrests that double up as safety barriers, ergonomic handlebars that require minimal effort even on full lock, and a seat that features a mesh-type fabric for good aeration and improved springing. It's fairly compact size - 47" long, 25.5" wide and 36" tall – also mean it’s nimble in the crowded urban environment. Currently the MIO remains a prototype while Suzuki assesses customer interest.

Information courtesy of
Suzuki UK

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