BMW is slated to build new wheelchairs for the Paralympic Games that will be heldin Rio de Janeiro next summer. These wheelchairs will be used by US athletes and they will be made of carbon fiber according to Trudy Hardy, the VP of marketing for BMW North America.
Along with the changes in the chassis, BMW is also committed to using the company’s “signature aerodynamics efficiencies” which will supposedly reduce drag. This will go along with the changes in the steering as well as the braking system of the wheelchairs.
“Ultimately, our goal is to make sure the athlete’s energy is used to propel themselves vs. the chair they’re sitting in,” Hardy said. “The whole goal is to make the chair invisible.”
It would seem that BMW has also not abandoned its sponsorship deal that is meant to last for six years even after Boston failed to get the 2024 Summer Olympics bid which was considered to be an embarrassment for the U.S. Olympic Committee. They aren’t even expressing any concerns with regards to it.
“It’s more than just writing the check and having the rights to the (Olympic) rings. It’s making sure we’re a true partner, and we’re committed to that,” Hardy said. “Would it be exciting to have the Games come back to the U.S. and have them on home soil? Sure. But we’re here no matter where the Games are to support the athletes and Team USA.”
One part of said support is allowing their equipment and technology to be used for the benefit of American athletes. The wheelchair is one such example of this along with the two-man bobsled that their provided during the Sochi Olympics.
During the London Paralympics, the US won 16 medals. It was when BMW met with the USA Track and Field though that the wheelchair idea came up.
Hardy said, “We’re a company that likes to solve mobility challenges, and there is nothing more challenging than Paralympians who rely on that chair, on and off the track. This is an endeavor of the heart, which makes it special as well.”
BMW will be working on the production and testing of the wheelchairs along with former Paralympians just as they did with the bobsled according to Hardy. The bobsled was given modified steering mechanisms as requested by the athletes, so the Paralympians will get the same chance to share their input.