Permobil & BraunAbility to Partner on Research, Product Development

Adaptive automotive manufacturer BraunAbility and complex rehab power wheelchair manufacturer Permobil have announced they will collaborate on research and development “to improve the interface between wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible vehicles.”

The partnership was facilitated when Investor AB acquired BraunAbility last year. Investor AB, a Swedish investment firm, already owned Permobil at the time, which led to questions about possible future collaborations between the two manufacturers.

In an October 2015 interview with Mobility Management, BraunAbility CEO Nick Gutwein was asked if he had considered future collaborations with Permobil.

Gutwein answered, “We sure have. We were not at all pursuing a sale of [BraunAbility]. But the Permobil connection was one that really kind of solidified our interest once [Investor AB] showed how strongly they were interested in us, and we started doing a little bit of study on Investor AB. We have a tremendous admiration for Permobil and its brand, and yes, we have thought about that.”

A news announcement about the new partnership said the end goal would be “increasing independence and improving the total mobility experience for individuals with physical disabilities. The partnership will lead to breakthrough concepts that offer greater freedom and improve everyday life for [consumers].”

Permobil and BraunAbility will be working together on “technical research and engineering,” the announcement added.

Larry Jackson, CEO/President of Permobil North America, said, “There is an approach called ‘working backwards’ that is widely used at Permobil. We try to work backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it. While working backwards can be applied to any specific product decision, using this approach is especially important when developing new products or features. BraunAbility and Permobil share this customer-centric philosophy, and together our teams will revolutionize the interfaces between chairs and vehicles.”

Gutwein said of the new partnership, “Permobil has exceptional research and development capabilities, and we share a commitment to innovation and a sharp focus on customer experience. Individually our brands have contributed huge advancements in mobility over our long histories. Now our paths have converged, and we are confident the result will be technology that empowers our customers with unprecedented freedom and the autonomy to more fully experience and enjoy life.”

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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