In a tweet by Teslas Anonymous (TA), a very special request is made: “Elon Musk, can you make accessible mobility vans S3XY?” TA explains in her tweet that one of these vans may be in her future and tells me the story of how this is coming to be.
— Teslas Anonymous (David) (@teslasanon) December 12, 2019
TA is the parent of a child who has cerebral palsy and is working with a therapist to get their child on a path where she won’t have too many complications later in life. TA tells me there are many children who suffer from cerebral palsy, and they all have different needs. When they are little, it’s easy to pick them up and out of the car seat or put them in a stroller, but when they are older, it gets harder and a mobility vehicle is needed. Right now, TA has a Tesla Model X and tells me that the falcon-wing doors actually help a lot with the mobility issue — since not just the door, but part of the roof goes up.
TA’s daughter has trouble with dystonia, whereby her muscle tone can vary from day to day. The Model X helps with this by having the roof move up to allow her to move around a bit easier. However, TA’s daughter will be growing up and moving from the stroller age to an age in which she will need an adaptive seat that can adjust to provide support. These seats, TA explains to me, “actually have tie-downs so that they can go on the school bus! And then after that, it’s more like a wheelchair or power chair.”
As TA’s family has gotten to know other families with children who have special needs, they have learned that everyone eventually gets some kind of van with a ramp or lift. “For the past 3 days, I’ve seen Ford Transit Vans with lifts in the back and they are enormous,” TA tells me. Some get smaller vans like, a Dodge Caravan, but if the child has a lot of equipment, that can fill up quickly. The primary ones are transit vans for kids, with special wheelchairs that accommodate the inability to fold their limbs.
Ideas for Tesla Mobility Vans
Perhaps a Tesla mobility van could have the Cybertruck’s underpinnings. A van with 500 miles of range per charge would be pretty cool.
This idea comes from a friend of TA’s whose child got to go to Hawaii for their “Make A Wish” grant. One of the kids on that trip had to be sedated due to really bad seizures. The family has a van with which they tow a travel trailer so that they can stop, use the bathroom, and rest at any time. A Tesla van would offer so many benefits.
Also, TA points out that none of the current mobility vans have ground clearance. Perhaps Tesla could make one that has SUV-type clearance. TA’s original dream was to keep the Model X, take out one of the seats, and design a lift, but if Tesla could produce a mobility van, then TA would definitely sign up for it. Mobility vans may not have high-volume demand in comparison with the rest of Tesla’s line of vehicles. Nonetheless, Tesla has an admirable record when it comes to a focus on safety and helping others. Such a van would certainly help TA make family life a bit easier.
“We get a lot of looks at hospitals with the Model X. We get looks anyway because of our equipment, but with the Model X, the kids that pass by oooohs and ahhhs. Parents and hospital staff make positive comments and our family are very self-aware and would probably have never gotten the X, but not only has it helped us (especially those doors) but it’s helped me stay somewhat positive about life.”
TA also points out that the fuel economy for mobility vans is terrible. The Ford Transit van’s is rated at 26 mpg, and the Dodge Grand Caravan is listed as 20 mpg. 20 miles per gallon is incredibly low and doesn’t allow one to go too far without having to refill. Perhaps TA’s story could inspire not only Tesla to enter the van market, but to give families like TA’s some sort of hope that there are people out there who not only care but are working to help solve issues with mobility.