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Discussion Starter #1
In another thread someone brought up a local service that comes around and fills up your car with gasoline saving you trips to the gas station. While some folk saw this as laziness on the part of the driver, to me it seems a great idea for people with disabilities (my wife has MS and runs a support group).

Filling up your car is one of those things we never think about (well it is discussed on this forum but for other reasons), but it can be a royal pain for folks with mobility problems, especially those living in places where "full service" gas stations have gone the way of "curb feelers".

BEV/PHEV seem like a great solution to this problem, since you can charge your vehicle at home and once plugged in, you don't have to stand around while the vehicle charges. That said, the majority of EVs are not the easiest to get in and out of. I love my Volt, but my Leaf has way better overhead space.

Anyone have any practical experience with this situation? Which cars do you see as the best fit for the disabled? If we are talking about wheelchair-bound drivers, it seems that only the Pacifica and Tesla X would lend themselves to the customization needed for that situation. But what about older drivers with bad knees/hips etc.

This seems like a whole unexplored issue I have only seen addressed in the context of autonomous driving. Sure, it would be really cool for people to have a car that drives itself, but not much help if you can't actually get into and out of the car.

Thoughts?
 

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For wheelchair users, I often see heavily modified vans with a powered lift, possibly a lowered floor (?) and/or other modifications (I’m no expert on these mods). It seems like it would be harder to modify an electric car this way. Especially anything involving cutting into the floor where a battery might be. I could see this as being reason enough to avoid EVs for these conversions.

If someone can use an unmodified vehicle, it seems like you would want at least a mid-sized car, if not full sized, for the larger door openings and higher seat height and roof clearance, as well as large cargo area for a folded wheelchair. That mostly rules out the compact Volt/Leaf/Bolt kinds of cars. That would point to costlier Tesla Model S or X. BMW X5 can be had as a plug in hybrid, but also costly, and not much AER. Maybe larger affordable vehicles will be offered in the future. The Fusion Energi comes close, but the small trunk might be a problem.

As for avoiding a gas station, a disabled person might have almost the same difficulty plugging in an EVSE. Maybe a cordless charging set up would be the way to go.
 

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In another thread about a gas service called Yoshi, the mention of the disbled needing gas made me also mention that the new 2017 Chevy Bolt EV is a much easier car to get in and out. The ride and seat height is better than the Volt or Leaf, the floor is flat from door to door (no door sills to climb over). The rear is perfect because the floor is also flat from door to door (no sills or hump), and the seat is a flat bench type, so sliding across is easy.

Visti your dealer and try the Bolt EV, where the folded wheel chair can be carried easier, too. I know about this problem, because my wife suffered a foot problem and had three toes of her left foor literally removed, repostioned, and replaced, so she needed a wheelchair for over 40 days. During that time I drove our 1995 Buick Regal, and managing that wheel chair was hard. Now we have a 2009 Chevy Equinxo which has the best rear leg room in the market. If she had to go for another foot operation, getting in and out will be easier for her and the folded wheelchair.
 

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Any Tesla can have a bunch of memorized driver profiles - so you could make one called "exit" that moves the wheel all the way up and in and the seat back and down. Tesla's with air suspension can also remember to raise at a GPS location - so if having the car at a certain height makes entry easier, it can do that for you by default, too. If the disabled person doesn't have to be the driver, the Model X Falcon Wing Doors create about the largest possible opening for getting into the rear seats.

Any new Tesla will come with a whole bunch of driving aids and probably eventually be able to drive itself, too.

The only way to avoid having to plug in I know of right now is the Plugless Power inductive retrofit, which AFAIK is currently only for the Leaf and Volt.

If cost is no object, I tend to think a new Model X is easily the best option for a disabled driver and possibly for a disabled passenger (Pacifica might be better for some passengers.) Of course, it's a rather expensive car...
 

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Bolt EV is probably the most practical EV out there at this time for such scenarios. If PHEVs are an option, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (minivan) could be a good fit.
 

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I did research on vehicles for our public transit operation for the handicapped. The Pacifica was the only viable option for a plug-in, but has too low of a ceiling and small area for a wheelchair. MV-1 has much more utility, allowing the person in a wheelchair to sit beside the driver, with plenty of floor space to turn a motorized wheelchair. MV-1 has never been fitted with a battery pack to utilize as a plug-in. http://www.motortrend.com/news/vpg-mv-1-first-drive/
 

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Here's an idea: A Bolt EV (or Pacifica PHEV or Kia Soul EV or C-Max Energi or Model X or other EV with decent ingress/egress) with wireless inductive charging, like that offered by Plugless*.

*Granted, Plugless isn't currently offered on any of the above models (it's currently limited to Volt, i3, and Model S), but I'd expect wireless charging options to expand in the future.
 

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It really depends on her driving habits. She should keep a log while you are shopping. If possible, I'd wait until 2018's are out, since there are going to be some significant changes.

If she finds herself doing a lot of long trips, it's ICE, Hybrid, or EREV. Stopping at remote DCFC locations is not going to be a big help. This is a case where I'd suggest a Prius since they have very long refueling ranges, so refueling on the road is rare.

But if her driving is nearly all under 100 mile radius, I'd suggest the Bolt. It is narrower than the MX so there is more room in parking lots, and shorter, so there are more options for parking, but has about the same unrefueled range. You will be able to plug it in for her at home. It also has OnStar so if she has an emergency or accident, it will automatically summon help if she cannot.

It has Surround Vision so she does not need to turn her head in tight parking situations, as well as Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert for lane changes.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As for avoiding a gas station, a disabled person might have almost the same difficulty plugging in an EVSE. Maybe a cordless charging set up would be the way to go.
The advantage I see with EVs is that at home you can park them so as to give yourself maximum room to move about to plug them in, whereas a gas station limits this. But yes, wireless charging would eliminate this problem entirely. Thanks!
 

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Disabled is a blanket and can be broken down into many categories, however, the OP stated a wheelchair bound driver...I would first point out that those are one of the most rare disabilities...Usually you have a healthy driver driving around their wheelchair bound spouse/family member to various venues...

What are the alternatives? In my city, they offer $1 taxi rides to Dr Appt which is ultimately paid by taxpayers...There are also many doctor/hospitals who offer free or low cost transportation, so not dealing with the expense of vehicle ownership/registration/insurance or even the dealership visits (EVs still need visits for inspections, tire rotation, windshield fluid top off, etc)...

"Conversion vans" are very expensive and often are subsidized by the government...There is no doubt in my mind that someone could build conversion Bolt EV (or even a Conversion Corvette), but we're talking custom at a great expense...

Supposedly the Kia Soul EV/ICE is very easy to enter/exit for those who can still walk...To improve the Bolt EV/Volt entering/exiting for the those with bad knees, a somewhat affordable way would be to fabricate a new suspension to raise the car a few inches...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes, I am seeing a lot of recommends for the Bolt. It is a shame that Nissan doesn't make their electric van available in the U.S.
 

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"Conversion vans" are very expensive and often are subsidized by the government...There is no double in my mind that someone could build conversion Bolt EV, but it's to be a custom and at a great expense, just like it would be in any other vehicle that requires custom...

Supposedly the Kia Soul EV/ICE is very easy to enter/exit for those who can still walk...To improve the Bolt EV/Volt entering/exiting for the those with bad knees, a somewhat affordable way would be to fabricate a new suspension to raise the car a few inches...
The Bolt EV would be perfect, but all that needs to be added is a sliding driver seat, such that the seat can slide out and in for the easiest entry and exit. I have seen these seats on minivans, so the Bolt EV can have it, too.

If we take a vote here, the Chevy Bolt EV becomes the winning EV for disabled drivers or passengers.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My personal experience is with someone who is still mobile, but has limited agility and balance problems. For those people, it seems to me that an EV that is easy to get out of and in to would be desirable. "Fueling" in normal day to day operation become just a matter of plugging in the car, which can be made easier by how you park and where you place your EVSE.

Right now she is doing pretty well with the Leaf.
 

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My personal experience is with someone who is still mobile, but has limited agility and balance problems. For those people, it seems to me that an EV that is easy to get out of and in to would be desirable. "Fueling" in normal day to day operation become just a matter of plugging in the car, which can be made easier by how you park and where you place your EVSE.

Right now she is doing pretty well with the Leaf.
Per the previous comment, with Plugless you simply park the car to charge - we certainly have customers for whom wrangling, gripping and plugging in is difficult and so they purchased one of our systems. We currently support the LEAF, 1st Gen Volt and Tesla Model S - we're also taking reservations on Plugless for the i3. You can find out more here: https://www.pluglesspower.com/
 

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If we take a vote here, the Chevy Bolt EV becomes the winning EV
Lol! Very true; in fact you can put anything after "EV" and the Bolt will always win here...
 

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Funny you bring this up. This morning I stopped at the grocery store and there was a bright new red Bolt EV parked there. I talked with the elderly lady that owns it for a couple of minutes. She has had it about a month and loves it. One of the things she mentioned that she really likes is the slightly higher stance of the vehicle compared to her previous car. Makes it easier for her to get in and out.

I hadn't really thought about it before, but a plug-less power setup would be great for disabled and/or older, but still very mobile, drivers.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Per the previous comment, with Plugless you simply park the car to charge - we certainly have customers for whom wrangling, gripping and plugging in is difficult and so they purchased one of our systems. We currently support the LEAF, 1st Gen Volt and Tesla Model S - we're also taking reservations on Plugless for the i3. You can find out more here: https://www.pluglesspower.com/
Actually ordered one back last Summer. The trouble was that as soon as I ordered it I was told it would ship in September. Okay, that happens. Septembers arrives and I am told "well, it will be late October". When I asked if they could guarantee late October the saleswoman said "no" and they still had not found anyone in my area to do the install. I cancelled the order and installed a Juice Box Pro.

I would have liked a wireless charger, but I couldn't wait with no confirmed ship date.

Sorry guys!
 

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This conversation brought to mind a video that was making the rounds about a year ago or so.. A woman in a wheelchair uses a remote to open the back hatch of a Smart Car sized vehicle (more than likely a gas vehicle), then moves up a ramp into the car, where the wheelchair becomes, in effect, the driver’s seat, the hatch closes, and the woman drives off...

A quick search for "person in wheelchair driving a car" brings up a couple of such examples. One is a car called a Kenguru ("Kangaroo"), similar to the one in the video (wheelchair moves up a ramp into the car from the rear) and originally produced in Hungary and perhaps now in the US. It appears to be less a normal car and more of a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (i.e., limited to slow speed streets, etc.). There’s also a similar Czech-made car which a hatch that opens in the front of the car, and the wheelchair backs into the car, rather than entering from the rear of the car. This car and driver’s access reminds me of the Isetta my high school English teacher and husband drove back in the late 50's, with the front end of the car opening like a door (story goes that a valet once parked such a vehicle with the front end against a wall, couldn’t open the door, didn’t know how to put it into reverse, and was still sitting there when the couple came out to go home...).

Wonder if the Electric Smart Car could be modified to allow a wheelchair to roll up a ramp into the driver’s seat position?
 

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This conversation brought to mind a video that was making the rounds about a year ago or so.. A woman in a wheelchair uses a remote to open the back hatch of a Smart Car sized vehicle (more than likely a gas vehicle), then moves up a ramp into the car, where the wheelchair becomes, in effect, the driver’s seat, the hatch closes, and the woman drives off...

A quick search for "person in wheelchair driving a car" brings up a couple of such examples. One is a car called a Kenguru ("Kangaroo"), similar to the one in the video (wheelchair moves up a ramp into the car from the rear) and originally produced in Hungary and perhaps now in the US. It appears to be less a normal car and more of a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (i.e., limited to slow speed streets, etc.). There’s also a similar Czech-made car which a hatch that opens in the front of the car, and the wheelchair backs into the car, rather than entering from the rear of the car. This car and driver’s access reminds me of the Isetta my high school English teacher and husband drove back in the late 50's, with the front end of the car opening like a door (story goes that a valet once parked such a vehicle with the front end against a wall, couldn’t open the door, didn’t know how to put it into reverse, and was still sitting there when the couple came out to go home...).

Wonder if the Electric Smart Car could be modified to allow a wheelchair to roll up a ramp into the driver’s seat position?
Interesting.

You couldn't do it safely/legally with just any wheelchair. You'd need an interface that grabs the chair frame and locks it into place for a collision, and the chair itself would have to include crash safety features (headrest, etc.) Probably best to make the seatbelt part of the wheelchair, but if the chair locks in properly it could be part of the car.

I think the idea has potential, and I think the Smart EV is a logical platform. I know the pack is in the floor, but I'm not sure if you'd need to modify/relocate some of the motor/inverter components to make room for the ramp/wheelchair passage - as I remember it the rear engine compartment on the Smart is somewhat above floor level...

You'd also need to modify the steering column for a single, central driver.
 

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Actually ordered one back last Summer. The trouble was that as soon as I ordered it I was told it would ship in September. Okay, that happens. Septembers arrives and I am told "well, it will be late October". When I asked if they could guarantee late October the saleswoman said "no" and they still had not found anyone in my area to do the install. I cancelled the order and installed a Juice Box Pro.

I would have liked a wireless charger, but I couldn't wait with no confirmed ship date.

Sorry guys!
Completely understand, no need to apologize. If anything, we're sorry that the inventory pressures we had last year caused such a delay.
 
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