The Suzuki MIO: A wheelchair powered by fuel cells
When all the talk about fuel cells centres on their application within the automobile, it may come as a surprise to learn that Suzuki is applying the technology in the powered wheelchair market. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of such products, and its latest model, the MIO, features a fuel cell that uses methanol as a fuel source to generate hydrogen and therefore electricity. The tank holds 4 litres and that’s sufficient to provide MIO with a range of approximately 25 miles. There’s also an LCD display showing fuel level and power sources. Therefore, unlike wheelchairs that rely solely on mains charging of the battery, it addresses users’ fears of being stranded at some distance from their home. It is also easy to refill.
A large capacity Li-ion secondary battery acts as a store for the electricity generated and a back up source of power.
The modern design features armrests that double up as safety barriers, ergonomic handlebars that require minimal effort even on full lock, and a seat that features a mesh-type fabric for good aeration and improved springing.
Compact dimensions – 1200 mm long, 650 mm wide and 1000 mm tall – also mean it’s nimble in the crowded urban environment.
At this stage MIO remains a prototype while Suzuki assesses customer interest.