Motability Operations and CALLUM have selected two students from Coventry University and The Glasgow School of Art to help develop and produce an electric Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (eWAV) prototype. The project’s goal is to inspire industry innovation and pioneer EV accessibility for the future.
The selected standouts from over 150 students are Zoe Graham, a fourth-year Bachelor of Engineering student of Product Design at Glasgow School of Art, and Yikuan Zhang, a third-year Bachelor of Arts student studying Automotive and Transportation Design at Coventry University.
Thanks to their outstanding eWAV design concepts, developed at ‘Design Hacks’ held at their respective universities, they will each receive paid placements at Warwickshire-based design and engineering business CALLUM to help design an eWAV prototype. On hand for support will be design director Ian Callum CBE and engineering director Adam Donfrancesco, as well as the assistance of Motability Operations with its extensive customer insight.
During the judging process, the teams at CALLUM and Motability Operations were impressed by Zoe’s creativity and how she conveyed her novel solution, which has the potential to create more space for users. Yikuan also piqued the teams’ interest with how he addressed the battery packaging and provided a creative solution with stackable seats.
Ian Callum said: “This is an incredibly complex problem that needs to be addressed today to ensure that no one is left behind as the automotive industry moves towards its next electric evolution. It’s incredible to get a glimpse at the next generation of talent and ideas that will soon enter the sector.
"Both Zoe and Yikuan stood out for their understanding of the brief, their novel and creative ideas, and how well they were able to communicate these. At CALLUM we understand the importance of supporting the next generation of talent, of nurturing the innovators of tomorrow and sharing ideas and knowledge. We are looking forward to working with them to develop a viable, scalable eWAV solution to drive further innovation in the field and support all motorists to make the transition to EVs."
Motability Operations supplies approximately 30,000 WAVs through the Motability lease scheme in the UK. The architecture of an EV, with the battery located in the floor, proves problematic for eWAV conversion as it reduces internal height and usable space in the cabin while also limiting the available payload.
Andrew Miller, CEO at Motability Operations, said: “WAVs provide freedom and independence for lots of our Motability Scheme customers every day. Solving this problem is vital, so we can support our WAV drivers when they switch to an electric vehicle in the future.
Everyone at Motability Operations is excited to see this opportunity come to life and we hope Zoe and Yikuan, along with the team at CALLUM, can develop a working solution for the WAV industry.”
Work will commence in March 2023, with Graham, Zhang and CALLUM's design and engineering teams aiming to reveal an eWAV prototype in late autumn 2023.