Whill test drive

If you have limited mobility and need a powered wheelchair to get around, you face challenges when it comes time to shop for a new ride. Users typically have to get to a medical equipment showroom or rehab center, where they often face a limited test drive experience. Or they can try to evaluate online sources and hope for the best when making their selection. Now there’s another choice.

Whill is a company that makes innovative wheelchairs¬†that we have covered before. Their models have a sleek, modern look with attractive control arms and “Omni-wheel” technology that makes it easier to traverse uneven terrain. I had the opportunity to tool around in one through an obstacle course — including a gravel patch — at CES 2017, but most users would not want to make a trip all the way to Las Vegas to try one out. That’s why the company has created its new “WeDrive” program. Existing users of the Whill chairs can register with the company to offer test drives of their own device. Prospective buyers can filter the choices based on chair model, control configuration, and their height. They can then contact a matching owner near them to arrange a time for a test drive. The service is available in locations ranging from Sonoma, California to Manhattan, offering a range of experiences from rural to urban.

The test drive is free, and the company provides financial compensation for their “community drivers.” And the prospective buyers get to experience the chair’s features in the real world, and talk with a real user about their own experiences with the device. It’s a smart marketing approach that could make shopping for a powered wheelchair more effective — and a lot more fun — than the traditional approaches.