Ease of using Electric Vehicles for Disabled PersonsUPDATED DEC 07, 2021 - 15 MIN READ
Table of Contents
- Modifications in electric vehicles for disabled person
- Benefits of using electric cars for drivers with disability
- Electric vehicle models designed for physically challenged people
The demand for electric vehicles for disabled as well as for normal people continues to rise as these cleaner vehicles emerge as a key solution to climate change. Since such vehicles are not dependent on fossil fuels, there is no emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that are produced by the reaction between the fuel and the oxygen present in the air. Around the world, the government and the lawmakers are bringing in new norms and policies that encourage the adoption of electric vehicles. Given the potential disruption electric vehicles may bring in transportation, the automakers are also investing heavily in innovation and production.
Electric vehicles are also gaining popularity among the differently abled due to features these vehicles offer. However, there are still limited options available in electric vehicles for disabled people. The vehicles which are specially designed for this purpose should be safer and more comfortable and affordable for its drivers. Given that the infrastructure for electric vehicle chargingis yet to become mature and given the concerns around range anxiety and battery safety, it is especially important to address the concerns of the physically challenged in adopting the electric vehicles.
Modifications in electric vehicles for disabled person
With the advancement in technology, the electric cars can be modified for the usage of disabled drivers. Electric vehicles are considered to be the most cost-effective and cleaner mode of transport on the road. These are more pocket friendly, as the maintenance cost of the vehicle is also considered to be low as compared to conventional vehicles designed for disabled people. In addition to the financial benefits offered, these vehicles should include following facilities so that they can be easily handled by driver coping with any kind of disability:
- Controls in electric vehicles for disabled persons
- Locking system in electric vehicles for disabled persons
- Seating facility in electric vehicles for disabled persons
- Reverse and parking controls in electric vehicles for disabled persons:
- Display and emergency controls in electric vehicles for disabled persons:
- Space for wheelchair in electric vehicles for disabled persons:
- Ease in vehicle accessibility for disabled persons:
- Lighting system in electric vehicles:
The car brakes, accelerator and clutches control should be positioned as per the need of the disabled person. If these are hand controlled than it will be convenient to the driver to operate the vehicle with the help of hands.
The windows and doors in the car should be automatic so that the driver can smoothly lock them on one click of a button. Further, the same kind of button should be provided for the starting the vehicle. The diver can simply press a button to ignite the vehicle and there is no need for keys and opening procedure as in normal vehicles.
The driver seat should be easy to position so that the physically challenged driver can easily adjust his seat for driving and controlling functions. Additionally, the seat should have enough flexibility to suit the needs of disabled people.
While designing the electric vehicle, the convenience of entering or exiting from the car should be taken into consideration. There should be some wheelchair ramp or hand support facility so that driver can get in or move out of the car on his own without any hassles.
The controls for reversing the electric car should be hand controlled so that they are easy to operate. Further, displays should be available to alert the driver while reversing and parking the vehicle.
The electric vehicles designed for people with disability should be featured with the display systems and controls for emergency situations. The information related to the location, controls and charging should be readily available for the driver to take timely decisions for a safe and controlled driving. The size of controls should be kept considering driver’s needs and comfort.
The electric cars designed for disabled people should be designed in a way that it can easily accommodate a wheel chair without dismounting it. This will provide more mobility to driver once he moves out of the car.
The height of the vehicle from the floor should be low for the easy accessibility of the disabled people. The vehicle should facilitate easy access to wheelchair through ramps or lifts. Ramp will bridge the gap between the vehicle floor and the ground and lifts will help in lowering and raising a designed platform to provide easy accessibility to the vehicle.
Vehicles should have proper lighting facility that can be easily controlled by driver from his seat only. The emergency lighting system should alert the passers-by for timely help and these can be activated and deactivated by the driver for any safety concerns.
Fig: Modifications in electric vehicles for disabled persons
The modifications in the vehicle should be done to suit the requirements of the physically challenged people. These controls and modifications help the disabled driver a better accessibility and mobility. Further these specially designed vehicles improve their quality of life by allowing them to drive themselves without the support of others.
Benefits of using electric vehicles for drivers with disability
The electric cars offer a number of benefits for a driver, irrespective of disability status, as compared to conventional cars. The vehicle is light in weight and is equipped with advanced technology and tools. The benefits of using an electric vehicles for disabled are mentioned below:
- Low operational cost:
- Environment friendly:
- Convenient charging:
- High performance:
- Safe driving:
- Subsidy plans:
- Easy and comfortable ride:
Electric cars use electricity instead of fuel, which is used in conventional vehicles. The continuous surge in petrol prices increase the operational cost of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. Electric vehicles also offer the benefit of having low maintenance costs as compared to conventional vehicles.
The toxic gases emitted from the petrol and diesel vehicles pollutes the environment. Other than air pollution, conventional vehicles are also a source of noise pollution. In contrast to conventional vehicles, electric cars are considered to be effective in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and cause negligible noise pollution.
The driver with any disability can conveniently charge their electric vehicle at home, office or parking space. All these are convenient locations for a driver for charging their discharged batteries. It gives a flexibility to the driver to recharge their electric cars using a normal household socket, thereby no need to run to fuel station for recharging the vehicle.
There is no need of shifting gears and the electric cars get the power instantly on a start, making them quicker and more comfortable as compared to ICE vehicles. This offers a better performance over traditional vehicles.
Electric vehicles are considered to be safer as compared to ICE vehicles because of their lower center of gravity making them more stable in case of road accidents. The airbags open up and the electricity supply cuts off from the battery in case of collision, thus preventing the risk of explosion because of the absence of fuel or gas.
The government offers a lot of subsidies and incentives for purchasing an electric car. In the target to achieve a sustainable environment, different policy makers encourage drivers to buy electric vehicles. Further, their ownership cost has reduced to almost half the earlier price because of the different alternatives introduced for charging the electric vehicle.
Electric cars have simple driving mechanisms as there is no need for a clutch function. Additionally in the regenerative braking mechanism, the released kinetic energy is wasted in conventional vehicles whereas electric vehicles make use of released kinetic energy for recharging the batteries.
Further, lithium material is mainly used for the manufacturing of electric car batteries. The life of the battery is improving with the advanced manufacturing techniques. This further provides a better performance from the electric vehicles for a disabled driver.
Electric vehicle models designed for physically challenged people
The government has taken various initiatives to promote electric vehicles for people with disabilities. First, there is reduced excise duty for the cars which are purchased and driven by handicapped people. Second, a set of guidelines are designed so that the disabled driver can get an electric car, with required modifications as per his needs, directly from the manufacturer. Third, subsidized rates are charged for modifications to help differently abled people gain easy mobility. Fourth, the complete procedure is time bound and requires a month to clear all the formalities at the driver side and the manufacturer side. Fifth, for the ease of parking, a separate space at the parking places is allotted for the cars meant especially for the differently abled people.
In the effort to make driving easy for disabled people, leading players in the e-vehicles manufacturing industry such as Mahindra Electric, Tesla, Toyota, etc. are playing a significant role. These companies have taken initiatives to provide safe driving car models. These electric cars comprise different features such as a hatch at a back for easy loading and unloading for wheelchairs, low effort steering and keyless start, sufficient space, affordable prices, etc.
Not only the four wheeler vehicles, the two and three wheeler vehicles are also participating in these initiatives. These vehicles are designed especially for the persons with disabilities. Recently, an electric scooter was launched for disabled people that had three wheels and included enhanced safety and a mechanical parking feature. The main attraction of this scooter is its self-repair function which allows fixing of problems identified during self-diagnosis.
Recently, IIT-Madras customised wheelchair into an electric vehicle. This wheelchair can be personalised to fit each driver’s requirements. The driver can adjust the height and width of the chair, select the type of wheels and the colour options to make it more comfortable and friendly. This wheelchair has a battery powered clip-on device that provides a safe driving experience to a driver with disability.
With all the research work done in this area, e-vehicles are considered to be a potential transport medium which can improve the mobility of disabled people. Automakers and governments should continue to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles among the disabled and physically challenged. Additionally, automakers should continue to engage with such consumers to ensure that the vehicles are safer and modelled as per specific mobility requirements. In this way, a variety of options will be made available for disabled drivers to choose the e-vehicle which completely fulfils their needs and provides independence and easy mobility from one place to another.
EV - Electric Vehicle
ICE - Internal Combustion Engine