Looking over David Schmidt's shoulder as he drives his KIA Carnival is a bit like going back in time. The 15-year-old vehicle is well maintained and a piece of Space Drive history, without voice control, with many buttons and still with Space Drive 1. Now he is getting his new car, a Chrysler Pacifica, with Space Drive 2, voice control and again with an underfloor ramp, which was important to him.
The new Chrysler Voyager is still somewhat unfamiliar to David Schmidt. It is the second PARAVAN for the 41-year-old, who has been driving a Kia Carnival since 2008. An important - if not the most important - criterion for the purchase of the new vehicle was the underfloor ramp; it is more flexible when extending and retracting. And: "The ramp is simply faster. The cassette lift is not really my thing," says David. With the underfloor ramp, in combination with the air suspension, he has significantly more ground clearance.
As he did then, David, who is confined to a wheelchair after an accident in 2005, drove with the Space Drive drive and steering system, now in its second generation. He operates the mini-steering wheel with his right hand and the accelerator and brake slider with his left. In the meantime, he has already covered more than 85,000 kilometers.
With his PARAVAN PR50 power wheelchair, which is approved in accordance with StVZO Paragraph 35a, David drives over the underfloor ramp directly in front of the steering wheel. If the distance is ever too long, he can sit on the passenger side with the wheelchair and let himself be driven. Both seats are equipped with a PARAVAN docking station that firmly anchors the wheelchair to the vehicle floor as soon as it is moved in. In the future, David will be able to operate the secondary functions, such as turn signals, horn, but also the sun visor, via voice control or the PARAVAN Touch; at the time, this was only possible via individual buttons. His first conclusion: "It's a completely new driving experience and now I can operate the whole car independently while driving without any problems. That wasn't quite as easy to do before."
The fact that the nurse in training would be able to get behind the wheel of a car again after his accident in 2005 was not so clear to him at the time. "At the time, no one believed I could drive again," he reports. After two years of rehab, he came to Aichelau in 2007 for his first adaptation drives. It was important to David back then that he had a contact person for everything concerning his mobility, whether it was a wheelchair or a car, and that's how the man from Thuringia became aware of PARAVAN.
He saw the Chrysler Pacifica as a demonstration vehicle and was glad that this solution still existed. "It's a lot different than a bus," David says. A Multivan was out of the question for him. He uses the car mainly to drive to therapies and, "You want to take friends or go to friends' houses sometimes."
He already misses his old car a bit, but he is now open to new things. The first introductory drives in the Swabian Alb with the Chrysler Pacifica and Space Drive 2 brought many new impressions. "It's still a bit unfamiliar, with all the technology," he concludes. "They are completely different cars."
Currently, he is still driving short distances to familiarize himself with the new vehicle and the significantly more horsepower. His conclusion after two months: He particularly appreciates the convenience of the new voice control system, because previously only some functions could be operated by pressing a button - now he can control all functions of his new Chrysler. "The Space Drive is now even and more precise, the gas, brake and steering react much more sensitively. It's very easy to drive, even if it still needs some practice," he reports.