YDS, a Japan-based automobile design firm, developed an electric three-wheel vehicle that can be driven by a person on a wheelchair.
The company exhibited the vehicle, "Wheelchair Vehicle (WCV)," at the 37th Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition, which runs from Sept 29 to Oct 1, 2010, in Tokyo. A driver can get into the car by rolling a wheelchair into it from behind (between the two rear wheels) and fixing the wheelchair on the vehicle by operating a lever.
The WCV can be driven by operating a handle directly connected to the front wheel for steering and using an accelerator located right to the handle and two brake levers located right and left to the handle.
The WCV measures 1,860 (L) x 1,000 (W) x 990mm (H) and weighs 68kg (including a battery). A DC brushless motor with a rated output of 0.58kW is embedded in the front wheel. The battery is an iron phosphate lithium-ion battery whose voltage, capacity and charging time are 48V, 10Ah and about four hours, respectively. The vehicle can be equipped with up to two batteries, and, in that case, it can travel about 50km (at a speed of 30km/h on a flat paved road).
When a lever used to fix the wheelchair is lifted, the rear part of the vehicle lowers to make a slope. Then, a wheel-chaired driver gets into the vehicle by using the slope. When the lever is lowered, the slope is lifted, and the wheels of the wheelchair are fixed on the vehicle. The wheelchair can be locked by locking the lever.
In addition to the accelerator and the brake lever, a button used to switch between forward movement and backward movement is located right to the handle. And some switches for indicators and head lamps are located left to the handle. The brake lever has a locking mechanism.
YDS plans to release the WCV in the spring of 2011 at a price of ¥500,000-600,000 (approx US$5,987-7,185).