The Rise of Lithium Battery-Powered Motorized Chairs

Lithium Battery-Powered Electric Wheelchair

For decades, electric wheelchairs have been known to be heavy, bulky, and very difficult to transport - until recently when lightweight, portable power wheelchairs started dominating the market. What explains this market disruption?

1. Lithium Battery.

This is the key behind making all devices portable, whether it's your mobile phone, laptop or electric wheelchair.

The lithium battery was invented only in 1980, less than 3 decades ago. Prior to this, sealed lead acid batteries were the primary energy storage for motorized wheelchairs, and they weigh easily 10 times more than lithium batteries.

And in order to hold the weight, wheelchair frames needed to be made out of steel, which are stronger but heavier than the aluminium frames mainly used by lightweight electric wheelchairs.

2. Budget Airlines

A few years earlier, in the 1970's, budget airlines started emerging. Today, they have revolutionized air travel by making it cheap and affordable. Even if you don't travel by budget airlines, chances are you're still getting cheaper fares as compared to 3 decades ago, because full-service carriers have been forced to reduce prices in order to compete.

This boom in air travel also brought about a boom in the demand for travel power wheelchairs. So lightweight power chairs started gaining in popularity over traditional motorized wheelchairs.

This is one of instances where 2 or more disruptive technologies or business trends converged to create a 3rd disruption. A good case study for business students!



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