Wheeliz Startup Is The Uber Alternative For People With Disabilities: Peer-To-Peer Wheelchair Adapted Car Rental
A new startup called Wheeliz aims to provide Uber-like services, but it targets a specific audience: people with disabilities, who need wheelchair adapted cars.
Charlotte de Vilmorin, from Paris, has spent her entire life in a wheelchair, and faced a real struggle with transportation. Earlier this year, she visited Florida and found it very difficult to find a car specifically adapted for people with disabilities. When she eventually managed to find a suitable vehicle to rent, she realized that it cost a small fortune: the car cost roughly $1,000 to rent for 10 days.
"It's very difficult to get around when you are in a wheelchair, because public transportation is not accessible," explains the woman, as cited by Mashable. "You can't just grab a cab or rent a regular car."
It's not the fact that rental cars for people with disabilities are expensive in Florida, people with disabilities all over the world face constant challenges when it comes to transportation, and they don't have many options to choose from. Consequently, De Vilmorin decided to do something about it and co-founded Wheeliz.
Aiming to serve as a sort of Uber for people with disabilities, Wheeliz is a French car-sharing service that aims to connect people with disabilities with owners of wheelchair adapted cars.
According to de Vilmorin, currently there are roughly 100,000 privately-owned adapted cars in France, but the owners may not use them every single day. With this in mind, Wheeliz also allows owners of adapted cars to rent out their vehicles and make some extra money, while also helping others who need a solution for transportation.
Owners of adapted vehicles can list their cars on Wheeliz at a recommended fee of €50 to €60 per day, i.e. $55 to $65. Wheeliz takes a 30 percent commission, but in turn it also provides insurance. It's also worth pointing out that these recommended daily fees are significantly lower than the cost of renting a wheelchair adapted vehicle from a standard car rental service.
For now, Wheeliz is available in a number of cities in France, including Bordeaux, Nantes and Paris, but a global expansion is in the cards as well. De Vilmorin trusts that people who own adapted cars know the struggle that people with disabilities face when it comes to transportation, and that will likely make them more willing to share their adapted cars with others.
"When you know how hard it is to move when you are in a wheelchair, I really believe you are ready to help and do your best to let the user use your own car so [they] can be free to travel," notes de Vilmoris.
For now, Wheeliz has 120 cars listed and about 900 registered users. People worldwide apparently use the service already to plan their trips to France, and the startup has great potential. De Vilmorin plans to create a global network of wheelchair adapted cars to cater to people with disabilities, but it remains to be seen when the service will expand internationally.