Suzuki Unveils Prototype Fuel Cell Electric Wheelchair

Sep 27, 2006
Atsushi Takano, Nikkei Monozukuri
The fuel-cell driven electric wheelchair "MIO"
The fuel-cell driven electric wheelchair "MIO"
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Suzuki Motor Corp. has developed "MIO," an electric wheelchair with a fuel cell unit. It has been designed based on Suzuki's previous electric wheelchair "Senior Car" operable with a handlebar. It is a motor-driven wheelchair that runs on electricity generated by the fuel cell unit. The company says that the new wheelchair is more user-friendly and boasts a longer travel range compared to the existing model mounted with a lead-acid battery.

The product employs a direct methanol fuel cell that directly supplies methanol to the cell for reaction along with a large-capacity Li-ion secondary battery. The wheelchair can run 40 km or more with one recharge (4 L) of methanol solution. It allows easier handling because there is no need to recharge from the mains power source. As for the details of the fuel cell unit and the Li-ion secondary battery, Suzuki PR explains, "We will not release the information because it is a prototype at this stage."

In addition, the wheelchair boasts the following features: (1) a stable vehicle body with large armrests that serve also as safety barriers, (2) a handlebar with ball knobs at both ends that can reduce strain on the wrists when turning the wheelchair in a large circle, (3) a seat made of mesh fabric with spring effect which improves cushioning property and air permeability to assure smoother ride and greater comfort and (4) a large LCD panel display that improves visibility of amount information on the remaining fuel, power generation state, etc. indicated on the screen.