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Electrification of the automotive market: threat or opportunity for people with reduced mobility?




The Electric Mobility Revolution is Underway

The automotive sector is currently undergoing one of the biggest revolutions in its history with the replacement of thermal vehicles by electric vehicles, which are more environmentally friendly. To date, over 25% of cars sold in Europe are electric, and this percentage is only increasing (+48% in France last year) since the EU voted to ban thermal vehicles by 2035. The CAFE law imposes a drastic reduction in CO2 emission levels for automotive manufacturers, forcing them to rethink their entire range, thereby leading to the disappearance of thermal minivans and ludospaces that emit the most greenhouse gases.

But this revolution is causing the disappearance of models accessible to wheelchair users.

Thus, the most spacious and adaptable models to the needs of wheelchair users are destined to disappear. Moreover, the price of cars in general continues to rise due to the development of increasingly complex and sophisticated technological innovations.

Unfortunately, this electromobility revolution was not designed to be accessible and inclusive to those with reduced mobility. It is precisely the individuals with reduced mobility who need a car the most!

Yet, the vast majority of electric vehicles coming onto the market will not allow a wheelchair user to board.


Incompatibility between battery pack location and chassis lowering

Indeed, due to the size and location of the battery packs, it becomes almost impossible to lower the floor (lower the chassis) to create the necessary space for a wheelchair user to access. In Europe, this concerns over 4.5 million people. To date, no manufacturer in the world has thought of creating an electric vehicle, such as a family minivan, that is truly accessible (whether standard or after modification) to people with reduced mobility.


An urgent need to reconcile green mobility and inclusion of people with reduced mobility

This disappearance of the offer has a major impact on the current market for adapted vehicles, which is nevertheless a market experiencing strong growth (up to 14% depending on the types of adaptations).

  • Thermal vehicles that must then be transformed and made accessible by specialized converters will soon no longer be sold by manufacturers.

  • Production delays and prices of new vehicles continue to rise (in 2012, a new converted minivan was worth less than €25,000 including tax; today it is worth almost €40,000 with an average waiting time of 12 months).

  • The scarcity of the offer and the increase in prices of new vehicles create tension in the used vehicle market.


Electrification, threat or opportunity?

This threat to the mobility of wheelchair users is why at NEWAV, we have decided to innovate to find a technical solution that can reconcile green mobility and accessibility. But behind this threat, we see a tremendous opportunity to start from a blank page to design a vehicle of a new kind, designed from the outset to be accessible and inclusive.

Follow our news to stay up to date with this societal challenge!

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