We first tried the Whill out at the Mobility Roadshow back in June 2017 and were reasonably impressed. It doesn’t look like anything else available on the market today and for good reason – the TGA Whill is not an electric wheelchair, if you ask TGA. The TGA Whill is a Personal Electric Vehicle (PEV).
The Whill is aimed at wheelchair users with a lower-clinical need – hence the lack of seating system options and lift/recline/tilt systems. The design is eye-catching, which is deliberate – more on that in a moment. Aimed at customers who don’t want their choice in mobility to appear to be a wheelchair (hereafter known as the W word), we took a tin and some pound coins for every time we said the W word and went off in search of the Whill’s USP.
The TGA Whill is a Class 2 Mobility Vehicle, meaning it doesn’t have to have lights or indicators. It’s got 4 wheel drive, which is great for grass and kerbs. It also has unique front wheels, rather than free-spinning casters. The direction of the wheelchair (oh, flip) is enabled by the free-spinning rollers on the front wheels.
The seat has a depth range of 16″ to 20″ and a width of 18″ (approx) between the armrests. It also has a seat angle of 1 to 10 degrees, arm lengths of 2 inches longer than standard and an 11 degree arm angle range. The backrest also has a range of 6 degrees (94-100 in two inch increments) and the footrest has a 10 degree tilt range too. The footrest and seat heights can also be adjusted.
Standard on the Whill is a sliding seat, which facilitates transfers easily and is complimented by the lifting arm rests, cantilevered and weighted to help them stay in one position or another.
The drive control can be on the left or right, with the profile and seat-movement selector on the opposite side – more on that later. The battery range is 24km and the Whill is supplied with 2 50Ah batteries.
TGA Whill Style and Design
The Whill, with it’s square joystick and lever-based profile selection, has a feel of quality – the plastics used on the joystick don’t feel sub-standard and the metal lever is has a brushed effect. You feel upmarket and combined with the standard backrest alone, the Whill wouldn’t look out of place if there were a line up of them in a board room.
The white wheel-to-arm covers, with the red rear lights, remind me of the film Tron. A science fiction look is completed with those front wheels – a first for a wheelchair (that’s £2 already).
It doesn’t have front lights – it doesn’t need them, being a Class 2 wheelchair. That said, I don’t suspect it’ll be long before some LEDs are added, for looks alone. Although the options list isn’t long, I think for those of us out there that aspire to be a film villain, it should have an option of a white Persian cat.
As mentioned earlier, the Whill has a sliding seat, which, when you are slightly too far from the edge of the table or need to move closer to take that transfer, the seat can be put in a position to help you. The backrest moves with the seat itself, so you retain the posture support. The Whill also has a safety feature that won’t allow it to be driven until the seat is returned to the correct position, preventing the centre of balance from causing a fall or tip.
Driving the TGA Whill
The four wheel drive doesn’t take much getting used to. You also get used to those front wheels pretty quickly. The Whill isn’t overpowered – and why should it be? It’s not an off-road wheelchair like you might expect a Quickie Puma to be – it will surprise you though when you do take it on soggy ground.
Those front wheels have a great ability though – they can get you up a kerb of up to 76mm and cope well with gravel. We found the turning circle decent for a front-wheel steer ‘chair (it doesn’t count) of 710mm.
Regularly driving wheelchairs (doesn’t count), we felt we needed a second opinion about the ease of driving the Whill, so we called on a local friend who doesn’t like that they sometimes need a wheelchair to get around. After 5 minutes, our friend was driving around, quite surprised at how easy it was to get your bearings with the Whill.
Our only challenge was, bizarrely, on tactile paving, where the rollers would ‘fall’ off the tactile bumps and re-direct the chair. Because the front wheels are also driven, this meant that you would experience a slight wobble. Likewise, going downhill in the fastest profile at 6km/h, we sometimes experienced a wobble too – it’s not enough to give us a reason to avoid the Whill though – it’s like going fast in a rear-wheel-drive electric wheelchair.
The literature promises 24km and considering we did around 10km on two lights of the battery, this would be expected to stack up to the promise.
Transporting the TGA Whill
You’ll need a reasonable estate vehicle, as the Whill doesn’t fold anywhere other than the backrest, which is easily removed. It weighs 115kg with the batteries and on our Seat Alhambra, we needed 8ft ramps. Fortunately, TGA are able to assist with purchasing these, too – a small thing that can sometimes be overlooked and is a great piece of customer service.
The Whill is crash tested and has clear anchorage points without standing out. This is great, as sometimes they can stick out like a sore thumb.
The Whill has limited options, including mouse controller, an easy grip controller and any backrest compatible with the Varilite Varilock Mounting Kits. You can also choose between NXT low, mid, tall and deep back supports. TGA “sales” team (although that’s a misnomer, as they offer more than your basic sales) can advise on the sort of backrest you should consider.
You can have any colour you like, so long it is in the right white-grey-black combination.
We liked the simplicity of the Whill and it’s unique front wheels. As far as a stylish wheelchair (yes, that counts) goes, the Whill is very competent, without adding whistles and flutes.
The Whill wouldn’t look out of place in the office or in the modern home. The range of seating configurations mean that for someone with that lower clinical need, you can be comfortable all day. It’ll take you over kerbs and around the garden as well.
If you are a part time wheelchair user or a full time wheelchair user looking for something slightly different, the TGA Whill is a true Personal Electric Vehicle.
You can buy the Whill from £11,995.