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Callum eVITA Concept visualises an electric wheelchair accessible vehicle of the future

The new concept previews the electric wheelchair-accessible vehicle developed in partnership with Motability Operations

Callum, the design consultancy headed up by former Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum, has partnered with the Motability Operations in the design of an electric wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) called the eVITA. This purpose designed concept has been conceived to preview a more holistic design approach that could transform the experience of driving for the 34,000 users of vehicles like this here in the UK.

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Currently most WAVs are not custom designed and are instead adapted from small or mid-size vans like the Ford Tourneo Connect or Citroen Dispatch

While this is a cost-effective approach, it’s generally one with lots of compromises, both in terms of efficiency and passenger comfort. The Callum eVITA addresses many of these issues with a raft of clever innovations that aim to improve the experience thanks to comprehensive research carried out by Callum and his team.

Ian Calllum said in an interview with Auto Express: “We looked at the vehicles first, and then we did some studies and interviews with various people who use these vehicles”. Ruben Lansley, a creative designer at Callum did a practical test in the back of an existing WAV and said: “I’m just under 6ft 3, when I was sat in the rear my head was in the roof space, and I could only see the tarmac and not anything else around me. This made me quite travel sick and was something we wanted to change.”

To approach this issue, the team began with the concept’s packaging, that mounts the battery pack underneath the front seats, leaving a totally flat floor behind. This sits the rear passenger at a similar level to those upfront, helping reduce potential motion sickness by improving sitelines and more closely matching the passenger’s hip point to the car’s natural roll centre. This has the bonus effect of helping ease access from the road via an automatically extending ramp at the rear.

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The rear cabin area features two sliding doors, and the rear split tailgate allows for some level of weather protection while entering or exiting the vehicle. There's also a small control centre to allow the rear passenger to control the heating, ventilation and media inside the cabin, while the simplified reductionist interior was designed to be quiet and rattle-free – a problem that the team noted was prevalent on many converted WAVs today.

Of course, while this is purpose-built for wheelchair users, the packaging innovations could easily be spread to other applications, with Ian Callum noting: “The nice thing about this package, once you design a vehicle like this where the batteries are allowing the accommodation of the back to be used in a more flexible way, it offers up an opportunity for other vehicles too.”

While the eVITA is just a concept for the moment, Callum did say it is in a position to complete the engineering works if a partnering manufacturer was to come on board the project. In any case, though, being a design studio first, the concept itself doesn’t lack any of the design acumen one might expect from a luxury SUV or supercar, with a clean and resolved design. 

Now check out the best Motability cars...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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