Although mobility devices have been used in some capacity for many centuries (Phillip II, a 6th century Spanish King was reported to have used a type of wheelchair), it is commonly accepted that the first mobility scooter was invented in 1968.
That year, a Michigan plumber by the name of Alan R. Thieme created an electrical device to aid a family member with Multiple Sclerosis. Thieme’s creation, a front wheel drive scooter powered by a small electric motor was nicknamed “Amigo” and could travel about 3-4 miles per hour. Interestingly, Thieme did not call his invention a mobility scooter, and instead decided to call it a “Powered Operated Vehicle” or “POV” for short.
The Amigo proved to be a great success with the relative, so Thieme decided to begin mass producing his invention. Although sales were initially slow, within a few years, scooter sales began to skyrocket as more people became accustomed to driving them. Sensing a growing market trend, other companies throughout the United States began selling their own versions of the device around this time.
Today, Thieme’s company remains in business under the Amigo name. Run as a family enterprise, it specialises in electric mobility devices and all its products are constructed in the USA.
Interestingly, Thieme also constructed a motorized shopping cart, which he hoped could be used to aid people with mobility impairments shop for groceries. Much like the Amigo, the electric shopping cart can still be purchased today.