June 22nd, 2021

Sauber Group and Orthotec unveil the first fully Swiss racing wheelchair

Sauber Group, together with Orthotec, a subsidiary of the Swiss Paraplegics Foundation, and other major Swiss technology partners, unveiled the new OT FOXX racing wheelchair, an elite model, designed to compete at the highest levels of wheelchair racing, whose development will also bring innovation to everyday wheelchair users.

The OT FOXX is the first racing wheelchair entirely created in Switzerland, from the initial idea to the final product. The Sauber Group, through its subsidiaries Sauber Aerodynamics and Sauber Engineering, Orthotec and partners such as ETH Zurich, cycling research and development company Swiss Side and Swiss Paraplegic Research, have combined their unique expertise and cutting-edge technologies to create this model, which will see its competitive debut at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, this summer. Swiss elite athlete, Marcel Hug, will drive the OT FOXX M1, while an additional model, OT FOXX P1, designed to be even more versatile in terms of size, will be raced by Paralympian Patricia Eachus.

The lightweight, full-carbon chassis of the OT FOXX has been aerodynamically optimised using the latest calculation methods and tested in the Sauber wind tunnel. The specially-designed wheels by cycling experts, Swiss Side, also ensure low air resistance and high stability. Each racing wheelchair is specifically adapted to the athlete who will compete in it: the ideal sitting position is determined in advance in a simulator.

The findings on the optimal sitting position will also benefit wheelchair users in everyday life. The constant movements to propel a wheelchair put a strain on the shoulder joints of wheelchair users. In collaboration with ETH Zurich and the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, the so-called ergometer was developed, which determines the optimal sitting position in the wheelchair.

Benjamin Koch, Group Leader Aero Design, Sauber Aerodynamics: “The cooperation with Orthotec AG gives us a highly exciting and emotional insight into a new industry. The development and production of a high-end racing wheelchair, like a Formula One car, requires the interaction of various disciplines that come together in the Sauber Group. In addition to aerodynamic development, design and engineering resources have been used alongside the high-tech manufacturing possibilities. The combined know-how of Orthotec AG and the Sauber Group, as well as the close cooperation with world-class athletes, form the ideal basis for a racing wheelchair that sets a new benchmark in terms of performance.”

Axel Kruse, CEO Sauber Engineering: “It fills me with pride to work with a valuable partner like Orthotec. This cooperation is based entirely on trust, the exchange is friendly and very accommodating. Giving and taking is in harmony here! This was a first-class innovation project and what started as an idea in our heads has now become reality. A high-end product in the form of a racing wheelchair was created at the best quality with the most experienced specialists from a range of industries and with the experience from top-class sportspeople. All sides worked with motivation, tireless enthusiasm, passion and know-how on this showcase project. It was a wonderful experience to be part of it. For the Sauber Group, this great collaboration means gaining an insight into an exciting new industry and I am convinced it will also open the door to new challenges in markets we haven’t explored before.”

Stefan Dürger, Managing Director Orthotec: “Can we build the world’s fastest and best racing wheelchair? That was the question that led to our vision. I soon figured out that my idea was far too simplistic. It’s not actually about the racing wheelchair, it’s about a system that consists of a person and a machine. This is an incredible project for me. We had partners who were true partners. Without them, we would never have achieved this. Anything that happens now is the icing on the cake.”