Page 14 - Mobility Management, February 2018
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WHILL Debuts “Intelligent”
Model Ci Personal Electric Vehicle
WHILL has introduced an “intelligent” personal mobility vehicle that the company says “has the power to eliminate the feeling of self-consciousness re ected in antiquated scooters and wheelchairs.”
Despite that pronouncement, made as the new vehicle launched at January’s CES event
in Las Vegas, the Model
Ci is not a wheelchair.
WHILL made clear in its news announcement
that the Ci hasn’t been submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration
for medical device review.
Rather, WHILL
touts the Ci as
a lighter-weight,
“sleek, fashionable”
alternative to current personal mobility vehicles. Features include a joystick for driving, front omni-wheels seen on other WHILL vehicles, and two motors that make the Ci at home on city streets or off-road terrain.
The Ci also comes with a much lower price point — MSRP $3,999 — versus WHILL’s Model A and Model M.
Disassembly Acquired
The non-coded, not-a-wheelchair Model A and the FDA-approved Model M power wheelchair aren’t designed to be disassembled. The Ci can be, breaking down into three parts for easier transportation in automotive vehicle trunks. Ted Fagenson, WHILL’s VP of sales & marketing,
said the heaviest Ci piece weighs 43 lbs. when the vehicle is disassembled and noted that the Ci customer demo- graphic includes those “who might say, ‘I have a sedan, and I want to watch my grandkids play soccer.’”
WHILL said in its news announcement that the Ci also “incorporates app-enabled driving for greater inde- pendence, multiple driving modes to match a driver’s riding style and comfort zone, and a digital battery charge indicator to stem range anxiety, all enabled via Bluetooth.” The company pointed out the Ci can provide “predictive product maintenance information as well as remote customer support” that can include, for instance, reminders to charge the battery.
With a top speed of 5 mph and a 10-mile battery
range, the Ci was designed to be used indoors and outdoors. Unlike the four-wheel-drive Model A, designed to accommodate tougher terrains, the Ci has two-wheel- drive. Those front wheels help to keep the Ci’s footprint and turning radius indoor-friendly.
Award Winner at CES
The Ci is off to a fast start in the new year: WHILL said the vehicle was named a “Best of Innovation” award winner at CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show.
“With its modern design, the Model Ci challenges today’s conventions with a product that, due to its futur- istic appeal, eliminates the stigma and adverse psycho- logical impact that affects people who use mobility devices,” WHILL CEO Satoshi Sugie said. “The result is not just freedom of mobility, but freedom from the self-con- sciousness often associated with a wheelchair or scooter.”
The Ci will be sold through WHILL’s existing distribution network — which includes DME suppliers, as well as National Seating & Mobility, which sells the Model M — and mainstream online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Consumers can choose from six shroud colors (white, black, blue,
gray, pink or gold) and can order addi- tional shroud colors as options. The Ci will be avail- able in 15" and 18" seat widths and an adjust- able 16-20" seat depth, with rein- forced wheels to handle a higher weight capacity (250 lbs.) than seen in previous WHILL vehicles.
Fagenson said the manufacturer is planning a robust education program to help consumers and caregivers decide if the new Ci is right for them. m

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