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

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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

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Manufactured by Benefis Travel Aids Ltd

Christchurch New Zealand

Patent Pending

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Trusty Mini 12 volt

Benefis / RME Ltd New Zealand

Serial 927

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Trusty 12 volt Click on any picture to enlarge

Benefis Travel Aids Ltd

New Zealand - Australia

Serial 761

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Benefis Super Trusty 12 volt

Benefis / RME Ltd New Zealand

Serial 1183


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3 Trusty models

The Mini --- Super Trusty ----- Trusty

How many models were made?


Time Line (I think this is correct)

  1. Benefis Traveller made in Christchurch New Zealand
  2. Benefis Trusty (Travel Aids Ltd) New Zealand - Australia
  3. RME became a division of Benefis
  4. Benefis/RME Ltd New Zealand
  5. RME took over Benefis and made the RME Liberty
  6. Fisher and Paykel took over RME and the RME Liberty
  7. Fisher & Paykel made many models
  8. Sold out to Plega Australia
  9. Who then closed down the New Zealand side of the company and continued selling scooters in Australia


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Braune Batric 3 wheeler - 12 volt

Made in the UK -An early 1970s - Export model


Braurne_Batricar P1030354_6319 Click on any picture to enlarge


Batrichair 1983

Made in the UK

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Imported by Eastmond Motors in Christchurch NZ.

Does anyone have any information on these importers?

I can only find a PO Box address!

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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.

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manufactured by


Sales and Service

Telephone (089)487923


New Zealand


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"

Manufactured By

Scorpion Manufacturing

114 Cameron Street


New Zealand

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.




NZ Made













New Zealand made    Mobi 3 Mobility Scooter

This had NO on/off key

The instructions to start this scooter is.

  1. Press On
  2. Press Slow three times
  3. Press Fast one time

Then the Red light shows at the bottom and it can now be driven.

Certainly not for anyone with Dementia!!


m P1050612

m P1050613

Below: The drive on charging dock for the Mobi 3 Mobility scooter

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m P1050616


m P1050609


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.

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BEC Supascoota

BEC Mobility Ltd


BEC Scoota

Medium size.






A look from the USA. Their "Mobility Scooters"were called (POV) Powered operated vehicle

Al Thieme

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).