By Ian Jones @IDJonesPhotog
It seems like I get a notification from Facebook every few days, saying someone tagged me in a video – and it’s almost always the same one: the lady driving her wheelchair into a small adapted vehicle. “Ian, have you seen this?” they’ll ask. “Too many times,” I’ll reply, at least in my head.
I’ve written about my desire to drive before, and something like this is definitely welcomed. But my reaction to the vehicle in the video is the same visceral reaction I have to a Smart car: frankly, the 7 foot by 5 foot vehicle looks reminiscent of the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, or if I’m being complimentary, the LPC maintenance crew’s carts.
I’d be afraid if someone so much as breathed on it too heavily, it’d get dented like an aluminum can. I don’t mean to deride it, but I even hesitate calling it a “car,” no offense to the manufacturer. (Please don’t sue!)
The company claims the vehicle can go 60 miles on an overnight charge. I didn’t know any more about the specifications because the website is scant on specifics, but I was intrigued. That is, until I did some digging online.
According to an article on theverge.com, the Kenguru’s top speed is a blazing 25 miles per hour. Pretty fast… for a small vehicle. Yeah, it’s obviously not in the same ballpark as a Ferrari. The problem is, it’s not even in the same ballpark as a Toyota Camry from the 1980s.
Driving around downtown Livermore would theoretically be fine, but if I wanted to trek out to Walnut Creek, I’d have to bum a ride from someone, which sort of negates the independent lifestyle the manufacturer says (in paraphrase) it provides.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s new technology. It is only a start, and there are plans for a second version, drivable by joystick.
In concept, the Kenguru would definitely open a few doors, but I think it still needs time to gestate in the pouch. Having a single passenger seat, while it would add weight and cost, would be a start: for now.
I couldn’t find a price anywhere on the company’s website, beyond an assurance that it costs “a fraction of the cost of a modified van.” However, theverge.com states that the Kenguru is priced around $20,000, before incentives: it’s an electric car, so it’s green, remember.
Obviously, then, it’s definitely cheaper than a fully modified van, which is really nice. I’m still a little too skeptical about the safety and speed issues, though.
I’m going to keep my eyes on the company, because even though I don’t think the vehicle is quite ready for prime time yet, it’s got serious potential – and if they can get through these issues, there’s a large customer base waiting for its debut.
For now, I think I’m going to wait a bit before jumping for the Kenguru. As soon as all the kinks are worked out, I’ll be first in line. For now, though, you can stop sending me the video.