Students challenged to design the next generation of electric Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Competitions Design Electric Vehicles

Students challenged to design the next generation of electric Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Motability Operations and CALLUM are working in partnership to secure the future of electric wheelchair accessible vehicles, by hosting a competition to find an inspiring solution from the next generation of automotive design and engineering talent.

Students from Coventry University and Glasgow School of Art have been tasked with designing a prototype Electric Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (eWAV), which will provide a solution to the problems currently faced by wheelchair users looking to transition to electric vehicles.

The winning students will be given an opportunity to work at design and engineering business CALLUM on a paid placement. Together with its experienced team of designers and engineers, which includes acclaimed car designer Ian Callum CBE, they will bring their vision to life by producing an eWAV prototype for testing. It’s hoped this prototype will inspire further eWAV innovation and allow Motability Operations to continue to provide life-changing mobility to Motability Scheme customers, as we enter the era of electric motoring.

Ian Callum CBE, design director at CALLUM, says: “Industrial design principles state that form follows function and at present electric vehicles are not delivering the required functionality for people with disabilities. It’s an issue that requires industry collaboration to overcome, so we are pleased to be working with Motability Operations along with students from Coventry University and the Glasgow School of Art to seek a solution to the complex packaging issue.”

Adam Donfrancesco, engineering director at CALLUM, added: “Creative engineering is required to develop affordable and practical electric wheelchair accessible vehicles. An EV’s architecture is inherently problematic as the battery position is low due to its weight and centre of gravity requirements, and it cannot be easily changed. With this initiative, the support of Motability Operations and the next generation of design and engineering talent, we will seek to make the most of the internal space whilst factoring the available payload. Our aim is to find a workable solution to this complex problem; one that can be utilised by OEMs to ensure future EV mobility is accessible for all.”

Currently, Motability Operations supplies approximately 7,000 WAVs to Scheme customers each year. Most customers choose smaller WAVs as they’re less cumbersome and generally cheaper to run. However, as electric vehicles typically have their battery located in the vehicle’s floor, offering small, electric WAVs is challenging. Users switching to EVs face higher costs, less usable space and internal height, and lower available payloads. An innovative solution is required if the availability of practical and affordable WAVs is going to continue post-2030 when all new vehicles will be electrified.

Andrew Miller, CEO at Motability Operations, says: “As Britain’s motorists begin to make the switch to electric vehicles, Motability Operations is working hard to ensure our customers aren’t left behind. There are many accessibility challenges we need to overcome as we transition our customers to electric, and this collaboration with CALLUM marks the latest of our innovation efforts to find a solution. WAVs provide freedom and independence for many of our Motability Scheme customers, and it’s very exciting to be working with CALLUM and Britain’s next generation of automotive designers to future-proof wheelchair accessible motoring as we enter the electric world.”

Some students have already had the opportunity to submit their revolutionary eWAV designs, with over 60 students from the esteemed Coventry University’s Transport and Automotive Design programme offering solutions this November. Students from the Glasgow School of Art Product Design department will have the opportunity to submit their designs on 13th January 2022, with a winning design and its successful creator to be announced later in January 2022.

Alongside the students, Motability Operations is seeking support from its network of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and convertors to help pave the way for this important concept work by providing vehicle-specific engineering insight that will improve the feasibility of the project and future rollout of eWAVs.

The winning designer’s eWAV solution will play a part in British motoring innovation, having the potential to provide vital mobility for thousands of disabled motorists.

About the Motability Scheme
•   The Motability Scheme is the UK’s leading car scheme for disabled people. It provides affordable, convenient, worry-free motoring to over 640,000 disabled customers and their families. Scooters and powered wheelchairs can also be leased through the Motability Scheme.  
•   The Scheme is available to anyone who receives the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement or the Armed Forces Independence Payment. Customers transfer their mobility allowance to Motability Operations Ltd to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.  
•   When leasing a Motability Scheme car, insurance for three named drivers, servicing and maintenance, full RAC breakdown assistance, tyre and windscreen replacement and 60,000 mileage allowance over three years are all included in the cost of the lease. A range of popular car adaptations are also available at no additional cost.  
•   When leasing a scooter or powered wheelchair, insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing, maintenance and repairs and tyre and battery replacement are all included in the cost of the lease. Pricing is standard nationwide.  
•   A wide range of ‘green’ vehicles with emissions of 100g of CO2 per km or less are available through the Scheme.
•   Motability is a Registered Charity in England and Wales (number 299745) and a Registered Charity in Scotland number SC050642, and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (reference number 736309). Motability provides a range of scheme- related grants to individuals, who would otherwise be unable to afford the mobility solution they need. 
•   Motability Operations Ltd is an independent company that operates the Motability Scheme under contract to Motability (the charity). Any profits are non-distributable and are reinvested or donated for the benefit of disabled people. Motability Operations Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference number 735390. 
CALLUM is a design and engineering business creating bespoke and limited-edition products. 

CALLUM is focused on design, lifestyle and travel, taking on projects that intrigue, excite and tell a story. It is a collaboration of talented individuals with experience across art, audio, automotive, fashion and motorsport brands. 

Nimble and agile, CALLUM produces exquisite design supported by quality execution, with its 30,000 sq. ft Warwick facility housing the latest technology to deliver design, prototyping, machining and trim services. 

Amongst its founding members is British designer Ian Callum CBE, admired for his prolific automotive work, which includes the Aston Martin Vanquish, Vantage and DB9, Jaguar F-Type, F-PACE, XJ and, most recently, the World Car of the Year Award-winning I-PACE, amongst others. 

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