From humble beginnings come great things. This saying could not be more true in the case of Roland Arnold. This is the incredible story of a half-orphan who worked as a harvest helper and tyre dealer to earn a living, to becoming a visionary entrepreneur who rewrote the rules of the mobility industry.
Roland Arnold, the founder and managing director of Paravan GmbH, did not always have it easy in the past. He lost his father in an accident when he was only a young boy. As an adult, he struggled to make a living with a small tyre business and earned a little extra money by operating a combine harvester.
An incident that writes mobility history
In 1997, an incident at a dreary car park on a motorway service station changes his whole life: In the pouring rain, he helped a woman who was having difficulties lifting her paraplegic husband from his wheelchair into the car.
Back at home, he couldn´t help but think about the struggles of this couple and other people with disabilities. In a garage on his brother’s farm, he began working obsessively on innovative customised vehicles for disabled people. At first his efforts were greeted with ridicule and scepticism, but this soon gave way to extensive admiration.
The development of Space Drive
Arnold quickly turned his attention to developing a revolutionary drive-by-wire system (which was to become Space Drive) in order to make it possible for people with severe disabilities to become mobile again and drive a car independently. In 2003, he acquired his first patents – and the components for the first generation of Space Drive were soon rolling off the line in his home factory. Paravan GmbH was then established in 2005. For his new company, Arnold built an ultra-modern 50,000 m² mobility park without any funding in his remote home town in Southern Germany.
Today, PARAVAN is the global market leader for customized vehicle adaptations and drive-by-wire steering and driving controls for the disabled. More than 9,000 Space Drive vehicles are on the road with over 1 billion kilometers driven “by-wire”.
What remains the same is the spirit of our founder, which all employees live every day: To give people with physical disabilities back their mobility and independence and thus also a zest for life.
Space Drive is more than just a high-tech steering and driving technology. For our customers, it is a new way of life and the freedom to be mobile again.