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The Pascal, a modern reinterpretation of the “Rascal-style” mobility scooter, is designed to give handicapped, disabled and mobility-impaired people a scooter option that places an equal emphasis on aesthetics, functionality and user friendliness. This project, designed as part of a General Motors sponsored transportation studio and using proprietary, cutting-edge electric motor technology from GM, was largely inspired by my own mother’s struggles with mobility.
After surviving surgery to remove a brain tumor, my mother was left with several lasting handicaps, including vision, balance and coordination impairments. She walks with a cane and has difficulty navigating her often topographically challenging environment. The concept for the Pascal was born primarily out of my desire to understand both my mother’s experience with mobility challenges and her unwillingness to use a mobility scooter.
Through many interviews and “walkabouts” with my mother, I was able to gain clarity on the obstacles she struggles with and her resistance to acquiring a scooter. In addition, thorough market research was conducted and hundreds of online reviews were synthesized into a primary list of complaints about and limitations of today’s mobility scooter offerings which drove the design process.
Lack of useful features, usable storage, ease of entry/exit, ergonomics (especially for those who spend much of their life in their scooter), and a poor turn radius were among the primary concerns and complaints shared by many users.
Topping the list of complaints (by users and non-users alike) by a significant degree was a distinct lack of aesthetic considerations, style and color options. In the words of one user, “these scooters are just plain ugly.”
Additionally, most scooters that attempt a higher degree of style end up tied exclusively to the aesthetics of 1940s and 50s automobiles, speaking clearly to manufacturers’ laser focus on an elderly customer base. Though many who use them are seniors, this indicates a complete discounting of the many thousands of younger people with mobility impairments.
The Pascal contains features useful to a wide variety of users, including cane storage, hidden “trunk” storage, ergonomic seating and steering wheel, a laterally pivoting front end for a tighter turn radius, advanced suspension that expand range and safety, intuitive controls to prevent accidents, horns and lights that work indoors and out, and many more.
A modern, fresh aesthetic, clean lines and a future-forward style acknowledges the fact that all people regardless of age, ability or health deserve good design.
Pascal is made for all differently-abled folks with mobility issues.
At its core, the Pascal turns a mundane medical device on its head and creates a personal vehicle that can be driven with confidence, shown off and cherished. The Pascal is a tool that the mobility impaired can use to reclaim agency and replace shame and frustration with unapologetic self-expression.
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