Car Customizations for the Physically Challenged

December 17, 2011 19:17 IST by in Auto Guides.

New age technologies are being ushered in everywhere in our day to day life. The automobile world is also experiencing various changes lately. These new changes are been incorporated for our betterment, comfort and luxury.

While we do take the joy and pleasure of all technological advancements, what about those who by some act of nature or other reason don’t live normal lives - how can they enjoy the same pleasure as we do?

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Today, we cover car modifications for physically challenged people - what are the changes done in cars to allow them to enjoy driving a car as much as others? We will help you understand the details of modifications that can be done in your vehicle to facilitate your driving experience without any compromise.

We thank Mr. Ramesh, an automobile modification expert for referring Mr. Shiva Prasad, who is a dealer in India for Kivi products. Kivi (Italy) is a company which excels in providing automobile solutions for the physically challenged. One can go through their homepage to get more information (http://www.kivi-mobilityfreedom.com/index.htm).

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Mr. Shiva Prasad, owner of Galaxy Systems, can also help you with kits and equipments needed by disabled persons for their regular activites like walking support wheel chairs etc.

He owns a Hyundai Verna petrol variant, which has been suitably modified for city use. His vehicle is fitted with the city clutch devices as well as K4 K5 unit.

Below is the extract of the interview with Mr. Shiva Prasad

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Question: First of all I would like to thank you for coming up with such a wonderful solution for the mobility of disabled persons. Please tell us about your motivation in getting in this business.

Answers: Mr. Shiva Shankar, I would also like to extend my thanks to the initiative by Cartradeindia.com for showing your interest in providing information about the products and facilities available for mobility freedom of disabled persons.

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Coming on to motivating factors, I myself suffer from Polio struck right leg and know the pains a person faces in moving from one place other. Using public transport Is the most difficult task for them due to the difficulty in getting in and out. They greatly depend upon their cars or individual transport systems such as modified scooters,etc. I have experienced so many of such difficulties; My company Galaxy Systems provides software solutions, networking solutions etc. I am quite happy with my business undertakings and working hard to take it to new heights.

It was my dream to help disabled persons in having a comfortable and independent transportation system. This dream also got support of other disabled but very enthusiastic people. We are dedicating our precious time for helping and upliftment of disabled persons. With lot of discussions and search done by our association, we came in contact with Kivi products from Italy supplying equipments and modification kits for disabled persons. We have setup main plant in Gujrat and I own the dealership in Bangalore.

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Question: Can you please tell us about the different products available with their specifications in detail?

Answer: The design of mechanisms is difficult but the usage is very simple. I would give the details of some of the specific products available along with an explanation of how it works.

City clutch

It is a mechanism that helps to operate a gear lever in manual transmission as good as in automatic transmission version car. Here a switch is placed on the gear lever knob. The connection given to the City Clutch electromechanical device placed under driver seat. The connection is then provided to the clutch pedal with the help of rods. As soon as the driver presses the switch, the mechanism exerts smooth pressure on the clutch pedal and manual drive is disconnected. After changing gears, as soon as the switch is left open the mechanism operated to pull back the clutch pedal to original position smoothly. The mechanism is so designed as to enable engaging and disengaging clutch as smooth as the one operated with normal legs.

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In case one does not want to use city clutch, there is a RED colored switch, which switches OFF the mechanism thus making it easy to engage and disengage.

K5 and K4 kits

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For both legs affected there are separate provisions for Clutch, Acceleration and Brakes.

For Acceleration, A separate ring (black in color) is fixed to the steering which is connected to the accelerator pedal through an electro mechanical device. By operating the ring with fingers the acceleration is as good as the one done with legs. There would be multiple options in this regard like as ring can be of pull up type where when the gas ring is pulled up for increasing speed and once left it   reduces acceleration. The other type is to pres ring down for acceleration and when left, it comes to original position as in normal operation.

Hand operated Brakes.

A separate brake pedal is provided on left side of steering wheel. The lever can be operated by moving towards dash board and left back for leaving brake application. Connection is given from the device to the brake pedal with the help of rods. Once the hand lever is operated, the movement is proportionately converted to pressing of brake pedal. Once lever is brought to original position, the brake pedal goes to original position.

The application of brake very simple, the driver should push the lever similar to as is done with leg in regular normal driving.

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In underside of hand brake lever, there are three buttons provided viz., Horn, Hill Holder and Economy switch.

The horn switch is to enable driver to use horn with just a press of button that too without leaving brake pedal

Hill holder switch is similar to a parking brake. By keeping the button pressed, the vehicle can be held firm from moving forward or backward when stopped in heavy traffic conditions with high gradients.

Economy switch helps to govern the speed of vehicle. Generally set up to 60KMPH. By operating this button, the speed of vehicle cannot go beyond 60KMPH or so. This feature helps for smooth and safe driving.

Other types of modification kits available include

Left foot operated accelerator and brake pedal

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In this, a separate kit is attached to the accelerator and brake pedal so that they are extended towards left. It enables the driver to use acceleration and brake application from left leg as people do with right leg in normal driving. For operating clutch pedal, city clutch mechanism as mentioned above can be used.

For below normal short people 

If the person’s height is below normal (i.e. getting leg on to pedal is difficult with normal seating)The extension rods are provided so as to enable the driver to use pedals with normal effort. It is shown in a photo attached.

Pull and Push Radial Hand control

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In this type of device, the brake and accelerator are smoothly handled by a support provided on a radial bar in proximity to the hand (the driver can handle the pull and push bar with hand rested firmly on the arm rest provided to the driver seat.)

Indicator control knob on steering

As the vehicle is provided with city clutch and hand operated brake pedals, there would be minimum constraints for handling the indicator switches and wiper controls switches. In order to overcome this difficulty, separate remote operated controls are provided on the steering wheel. Other unit is attached to the steering column. Operating the indicator buttons with fingers is sufficient to activate direction control mounted on steering column. It’s a separate kit independent from other kit.

Price matters

There are plenty of options that are available depending upon the type of modifications required; the approximate price range can be mentioned as below.

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The height adjustment kit price ranges at around Rs 16000, City clutch kit Rs 36000 and the K5 and K4 kit ranges to around Rs.55000 for made in India kit of the same manufacturer (plant located in Gujarat state). For imported kits, the price is in the range of Rs. 1.5 Lakh. Pull and push kit is an imported kit and can cost around Rs. 1.2Lakh.

The price mentioned are indicative and actual price can differ depending upon type of kit and accessories one looks for.

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One Important point to be noted is that all the kits are detachable/de- activatable kits. There won’t be any changes in normal functioning of car. For example switching off of the city clutch disconnects clutch operation provided on gear lever knob. Now it can be used in normal fashion with left foot operating clutch pedal and the left hand for changing gears. Similarly the hand operated brake controls, extensions provided for brake and acceleration pedals etc can be removed or activated easily.

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Question: Please tell us about the maintenance procedure of these equipments?

Answers: All the products are of very high quality and there won’t be any problem at least for two years or so. As the customers for this kind of products are very sensitive and it would be a great difficulty to overcome if any brake down occurs while away from city limits etc. Taking this as a major concern, the products are undertaken for repeated tough tests and hence customers can be highly confident of our products. However in case of any difficulty in usage, they can always call our service engineers.

Question: How about getting authorization from RTO?

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Answer: The standard procedures and rules and regulations have to be followed for a disabled person driving with modification kit. Some of the things can be mentioned as follow.

After fitting the modification kit, it would be mentioned in the RC book along with owner details. The disabled person himself has to be the owner at least as per RC book. As per law, nobody else can drive the car fitted with modification kit for disabled. Even the other family members are not allowed for the same.

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hough it looks like a harsh law imparted on the owners, there is particular concern behind the same. For example, the modifications would be done to suit ones requirements ,if a normal person also start using the same, he would be regularly disconnecting and systems, also chances of improper connections again is more(it could be unintentional ).This could lead to sever discomfort, stress on the disabled person when he is intending to use. The rule is simple, “Let the vehicle be driven by person who is supposed to use it without being caught in trouble due to negligence of others” However in case of emergency where the disabled person cannot drive, the connections can be disconnected and used by normal person as required. They would have to provide proper justification (with fee as applicable) if the Traffic Police checks.

Question: What are the benefits one can get from the government for such modifications?

Answer: The government gives reduction of 50% on the insurance of car. There would be exemption of road tax also. I am working hard in getting permission from government for 20% customs duty reduction on the imported kits. If the government permits same then there would be a considerable reduction on the price of the kits.

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Question: Any other regulations those are applicable for such modifications?

Answer:  Yes, The car modified for disabled inspite of whether its new or used one, once its mentioned as “for disabled” in RC book. The car cannot be sold for five years or at least till the person is living and fit enough to use the vehicle. It can be sold only after getting cancellation of permit done and paying tax as applicable for normal usage of car.

Question: Tell us about your other projects and undertakings for disabled

Answer:  With the intention of helping disabled people, I am continuing to do research on different equipments available for disabled persons (both in other parts of our country and in different countries).I am approaching the government officials with relevant supporting documents and method of implementation of the same. I am also working on getting maximum benefits from the government as desired by disabled people so as to live an independent and comfortable life.

Question: How can people contact you?

Answer: We have our branch office in Jain temple street V.V.Puram Bangalore -560004. It’s a hub for used cars and bikes in Bangalore. People can also contact me on Contact numbers 9448701111/ 9845056726 or mail me at cityclutchbangalore@gmail.com.  For people located in other states, I would provide contact numbers of our friends dealing with similar products in their respective state/region as required.

Conclusion

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With boom in automobile sector in India particularly with respect cars, there is a considerable demand for modification of cars for disabled people. We have made an attempt with sole intention of helping disabled people in getting relevant information on availability of different products which would certainly benefit them in getting freedom of mobility. We welcome people to share information of availability of similar products, manufacturer contacts etc.

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