Out of the blue, I got a call from a good old friend of mine Amit Gulati of AGM Technologies. It had been years since I had met him or talked to him. I remember getting in touch with him when I was working with Autocar India as Delhi Bureau Chief and subsequently when I started Motown India magazine in 2009. He was a modifier of cars, in the sense he could transform the interiors of a car into one that resembled the private room of an emperor. It was pure sophistication. It all depended on your budget. From a mere Rs 2 or 3 lakhs, his modification efforts could cost upwards of Rs 10 lakh. Your car could change its looks from Cinderalla’s pumpkin into her majestic carriage!
He had now modified a brand new Hyundai Creta, but this one was way different. The moment he told me about it, I became a bit emotional. He had used his years of experience and knowledge to change the dynamics of driving a car so that even specially-abled people could drive them. He came to my house driving the Creta. No modification was done to the exterior of this turbo charged vehicle. Rather it was a change that would allow a specially-abled person to drive this beautiful car, provided his hands were functional.
Thus, if a person’s lower limbs were not active because of an accident or paralysed because of any other reason, he could drive the car using the hand controls. And the best part is, the car can be driven by a specially-abled person as well as a normal person. In short, the automatic car continued to have its brake and accelerator pedals and every other mechanism it came with. The only additional thing it now had were the hand controls.
With that hand control, one could accelerate the car and apply brakes too. And to make the power steering a lot easier to handle, he had attached a knob for maneuvering the vehicle.
For the physically challenged people or the differently abled people, with an urge to drive, there is now a huge beacon of hope. Amit Gulati of AGM Technologies has brought a solution.
Equally exciting is the fact that careful consideration for aesthetics was taken during the design process, so that new components integrate well with the plush interiors of the car.
Tete e tete with Amit Gulati, AGM Technologies
Q) You were once the modifier of fancy cars, what made you to get into modifying vehicles for specially-abled people?
A) At this age I have done so much for fancy cars, I thought this is the right time to give something back to the society what I have learned throughout my journey of cars. So this prompted me to make such cars for people who actually require different kind of mobility.
Q) Have you done this kind of modification earlier?
A) Yes, we did one car that was a Maruti A-Star almost 10 years back and we had delivered that car to the same client. He has used it for 10 years and that again boosted our confidence that our product can be excellent for people like him. He has driven it for more than one lakh kilometers and he said there was not a single breakdown. He is enjoying the car on the highways at a higher speed as well.
Q) The A-Star car you modified, was it less complicated that the one here?
A) Of course, there is a complete change in technology now, as compared to the A Star. Right now we have a car where the acceleration is driven by wire whereas the A-Star was all mechanical. So there were challenges. The new age cars are quite different and difficult to alter in this way. But we still have altered and it took six months to develop this technology. Moreover, this car can also be driven the conventional way using your hands and legs, by any normal individual.
Q) So what about the RTO front? Can these modified cars legally ply on the road by the specially abled people with a valid license?
A) Well, there is a way to get these cars registered at different RTOs. These are registered under invalid carriages and there is a special driving license which is issued by the RTO to people with special abilities.
Q) In order to drive the modified hand controlled car, what part of your body must function normally?
A) Of course with this kind of technology both the hands should work properly. Even if there is some muscle deficiency in the arms, it still works. Yes, if their legs are paralysed for any reason they can still drive this car.
Q) How expensive is this modification?
A) Based on the car and the complication of the mobility, anything between Rs.2 lakh to 3 lakh should be the cost.
Q) But these vehicles are meant for people who are specially abled, so won’t they prefer not to drive to sit and enjoy or there are people who still have a great urge to actually drive a vehicle?
A) See, cars are all about driving and driving it yourself. Every human being loves to drive a car or any automobile for that matter. So, my idea is why they should be deprived of driving a car.
Q) You mentioned it took six months to alter the car. In those six months what all did you change or add in the car?
A) Well, in those six months what I learned was there are always dead-ends but you need to take a way out of them. There is a possibility of doing everything and anything in this world and while making this car I also faced the same problem. There were some engineering challenges which we overcame.
Q) Is this car easier to drive as compared to the A-Star?
A) Yes, this car is much easier to drive than the A-Star but since it’s a high speed vehicle, he needs to be a little careful. In fact, everyone needs to be careful while driving these new-age cars.
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