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Is It a Wheelchair or a Tank? It's Both, Actually.

This 'barrier-free sport-vehicle' is like the sport utility of wheelchairs.
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This isn't your grandmother's wheelchair. For one thing, it has tank-like treads and a roll bar. For another, it can hit a top speed of 22 mph.

Calling it an electric mobility scooter is kind of like calling the Pacific Ocean a lake, but that's technically what it is. Austrian futuristic machine manufacturer Mattro Mobility Revolutions created der Ziesel "to connect freedom with fun," and they certainly seem to have done that -- assuming your idea of fun is doing donuts in the Alpine snow, tooling around an orchard in Italy (with Vivaldi playing in the background, of course), and doing it all in eco-friendly comfort and safety.

And really, who doesn't love that? Here's a look at what it can do in snowy conditions:

Mattro calls the Ziesel a "barrier-free sport-vehicle," combining sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies with outdoor fun. It looks like a cross between a wheelchair and a tank, with thick four-season treads and a double-suspension arm chassis to give it impressive traction on just about any terrain, including snow, mud, grass or sand.

The high-performance motor is powered by an intelligent lithium-ion battery and the autonomic heating system keeps it going even in extremely low temperatures. It has variable driving modes, available LED lighting and a roll cage reminiscent of a dune buggy. And the high-precision, speed contingent steering system is controlled by one intuitive joystick.

Consider it the sport utility of wheelchairs. Got stuff to haul? The Zeisel has a tow bar and can be equipped with a snowmobile trailer to help carry your gear to the top of a glacier and back. And lest you fear that the grumbling engine might mar the serene beauty of the natural setting, worry not: the electric motor is nearly silent.

Powder hounds and beach lovers alike can now get closer to nature than ever before, with a level of independence and mobility that can make the most ardent outdoors buffs happy.

The sticker price isn't for everyone, however. The Zeisel will set you back about $24,000 for the basic model.

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