|History of Mobility Scooters|
Please Help me find the Oldest Mobility Scooter in New Zealand
I am Tony McCarthy from Mobility Scooters Otago 211 King Edward St South Dunedin. I have been selling mobility scooters for 12 years.
I have always had an interest in these early Invalids carriages and mobility scooters.
So where did the name “Mobility Scooter” come from?
Who made the first mobility scooter and in what year (that was called and advertised a mobility scooter)
I am also trying to piece together the history and add to my collection some of these early mobility scooters also to collate the names of the first mobility scooter dealers in NZ and the brands that they sold.
Old names like NZ made Benefis, Trusty, RME Liberty and Fisher & Paykel Liberty scooters, Ikon, Pandect, Scorpion, ProBug , Ranger.
UK models Batricar, Bec, Regent.
Canadian fortress Scientific scooter
Especially any information on the USA made Amigo POV (Powered Operated Vehicle) made by Allan Thieme in his garage in 1968 The first POV that went into production and sold in the USA. I have made contact with Al he has been most helpful with information and a fantastic person. (please see note below)
Any help with original brochures, pictures or just a phone call of what model you still have I would appreciate. If any one has a mobility scooter older than 1995 for sale please contact me.
I am also interested in any information on Invalids carriages in NZ. (Older, large type of mobility scooter made to travel on the road)
If you can help me with any information at all (or if i have made a mistake)
please phone me on Shop Phone 03-4552875 or 0800-566-800
I am a member of the Invalids carriage register in the UK.
The first "mobility Scooter" manfactured and sold in New Zealand. 1979
Benefis Traveller - 12 volt Click on any picture to enlarge
Manufactured by Benefis Travel Aids Ltd
Christchurch New Zealand
Trusty Mini 12 volt
Benefis / RME Ltd New Zealand
Trusty 12 volt Click on any picture to enlarge
Benefis Travel Aids Ltd
New Zealand - Australia
Benefis Super Trusty 12 volt
Benefis / RME Ltd New Zealand
3 Trusty models
The Mini --- Super Trusty ----- Trusty
How many models were made?
Time Line (I think this is correct)
Braune Batric 3 wheeler - 12 volt
Made in the UK -An early 1970s - Export model
Made in the UK
Imported by Eastmond Motors in Christchurch NZ.
Does anyone have any information on these importers?
I can only find a PO Box address!
Click on any picture to enlarge
Later model Batricar
Sold by Eastmond Motors in Christchurch NZ
Battery Chair - 12 volt
Another New Zealand made machine.
Made by Brian Heape in Whangarei.
Brian made approximately 28 machines and most were all slightly different. The base design was copied from the New Zealand made "Benefis Trusty". Brian said that they were all 12 volt systems.
Some of the 12 volts models had two batteries. One for the travel out and when that was getting down you changed over to the other battery and that got you back home. (hopefully)
Some had the two 12 volts batteries connected (In parallel) together for more distance so there was no need to change them over for the trip back home.
Brian was a very talented man and also made the Scorpion Car. He made around 7-8 of them.
Sales and Service
Scorpion Battery Chair
12 volt (originally coloured Orange)
This model has the two batteries, still a 12 volt system (one for travelling out on and then you change the plug over to the other battery so you could and should have the same battery power to get back home)
This must be one of the late models.
Later style Front fork assembly and seat, Two battery boxes. Later style cover over the motor and front wheel.
Basic ignition switch in the dash panel.
Below Showing the 12 volt battery charger charging the two batteries up in parallel.
Scorpion 12 volt
Has Harmony written down the front colum.
This model has two motors , two 12 volt batteries (still 12 volt) Earlier design seat but latter covering over the motors and front wheel.
Two different models
Seen better Days
Below: Later model, note the seat and Scorpion written down the colum!
No reference to "Battery Chair"
114 Cameron Street
Phone (089) 481-923
Still called a Scorpion Battery Chair,
So this is an earlier model. Also has no ign switch on the top panel.
Also the earlier style seat and front covering over the motor and front wheel.
New Zealand made Mobi 3 Mobility Scooter
This had NO on/off key
The instructions to start this scooter is.
Then the Red light shows at the bottom and it can now be driven.
Certainly not for anyone with Dementia!!
Below: The drive on charging dock for the Mobi 3 Mobility scooter
Ranger MK 2
New Zealand Made.
BEC Supa Scoota
In 1983 Sunrise medical (Chandler) purchased 5 medical equipment Companies over a 3 month period.
Joerns, Trans - Aid, A - Bec Mobility, Bec Mobility from the UK and Guardian products.
BEC Mobility Ltd
A look from the USA. Their "Mobility Scooters"were called (POV) Powered operated vehicle
Standing beside one of the first Amigo (POV) that he sold to the public in 1968.
Al would have had the most influence and the first in the USA to manufacture (in numbers) and sell his (POV) Powered operated vehicle to the general public.
I decided that I was going to try and find out some history on the Amigo POV never expecting to make contact with Als daughter Jennifer and latter Al himself!
This is a family business and the feeling that you get when communicating is indeed friendly and sincere just like Al said the Amigo was a “Friendly Chair” that is the way you feel when communicating with this business.
No wonder that they have done so well.
In 1970 Al manufactured a motorized Shopping cart and this has also transformed the lives of many. (not just in the USA)
They are continually making up grades and modifications and all sorts of innovated products.
I am so pleased to have make contact with this family business.
I asked Al if he would be kind enough to write down some history on the Amigo.
First Amigo invented In 1967
Amigo -- USA - 1967
A "POV" ( Powered Operated Vehicle) manufactured by Al Thieme.
I have made contact with Al Thieme, he has been fantastic to communicate with and has been extremely friendly and helpful. I have appreciated his time. Al sent me this note about the Amigo Mobility History.
Amigo Mobility History By: Al Thieme
On a trip to Mexico I rented a wheelchair for a family member, Marie Thieme. From this
experience I looked for something that would give her independence, dignity and be fun to
use. There was nothing available, so I built a battery powered mobility device for Marie in
We named it AMIGO as it was such a valuable friend and the idea came from our trip to
After experiencing the increased activity Marie had with the AMIGO, I decided to build a few
AMIGOs for other people. I located a company that manufactured a standup warehouse cart. I
purchased this model and rebuilt it to meet the requirements needed for walking impaired
The first AMIGO was sold in 1968.
In the early 70’s when attending a healthcare exhibit show I met Ralph Braun who had built a
battery operated cart for himself as he has Muscular Dystrophy. Ralph was selling his Braun
Tri-Cart and also selling van conversion vehicles.
I continued to build a few AMIGO’s while operating my plumbing/heating business. Sales were
very slow in the early 70’s.
My full time effort was put into building the AMIGO business in 1975. As the AMIGO mobility
concept began to get attention there were numerous other companies that also built similar
models, the other models did not sell too well.
AMIGO sales increased very well due to our unique marketing plan that used AMIGO owners
as sales people and the simplistic design of the AMIGO.
Today the majority of wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, scooters, and power operated vehicles
(POV’s) are built in Asia.
Amigo is built in the U.S.A.
Over the years I have found other 3 wheeled and battery operated devices (that were built before I built the AMIGO), none of these models ever went into production (see below).