French Startup Launches An 'Uber' For People Who Use Wheelchairs

Wheeliz launched last year and already has 900 registered users.

For individuals in wheelchairs, getting around can be a challenge -- particularly when it comes to finding accessible rental cars, taxis or public transportation.

A Paris-based startup is attempting to fix that. Launched last year, Wheeliz is an Uber-like service that connects the owners of wheelchair-accessible vehicles with individuals who would like to rent them. 

According to a story published Sunday by Mashable, Wheeliz CEO Charlotte de Vilmorin was inspired to launch the company when she discovered how expensive a wheelchair-accessible rental car would be during a trip to Florida and was frustrated by her lack of alternative options. 

Through Wheeliz, car owners can list their vehicles as available for rent within a recommended price range of 50-60 euros (about $56-$66) per day, Mashable reports. Wheeliz also provides insurance covering the drivers and takes a 30 percent commission.

That’s a price that’s up to half as expensive as the cost of going through a traditional rental company, according to the startup’s website. And if a user is able to find a cheaper price elsewhere, Wheeliz will refund the difference.

The company is already off to a good start.

According to Mashable, it has 120 cars listed and 900 users registered. While the service is currently available only in a handful of French cities, de Vilmorin has her eye on an international expansion. The company may hire drivers and launch an app in the future, as well.

Wheeliz’s launch comes at a time that Uber has faced criticism over its service’s lack of accessibility to riders in wheelchairs back in the U.S. Earlier this year, Uber and fellow ride-sharing service Lyft were sued for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Amid the criticism, Uber launched an UberWAV service allowing riders to hail wheelchair-accessible taxis in cities including New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. More recently, Uber is also testing an uberASSIST option targeted toward seniors and riders with disabilities in Los Angeles and another service for deaf and hard-of-hearing riders and drivers in a handful of other cities.


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