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      Houghton man designs low floor vehicles

      Ed Lahti has worked with cars his entire life. The 73-year-old Bark River off-road racer has recently been working on a few new ideas for the automotive industry in his garage workshop in Houghton.

      Lahti has successfully built and test driven a number of low floor vehicles.

      ??Anything that hauls people or products nowadays have a quite high floor, which is not that great,?? said Lahti. ??With the vehicles I??ve got, I??ve dropped that floor level down to, in some instances, an eighth of an inch step up, which is the lowest in the industry.??

      The low floors operate on a lift system installed in the vehicle that lifts and lowers the body of the car within a two-foot range.

      ??In fact, I had an experience the other day where they were loading a lot of old people from a nursing home into a regular city bus, and there??s this wheelchair lift,?? Lahti said. ??You know, it??s cold out, and they had a real situation there and it??s hard on the people.??

      The vehicles are all-wheel drive and weigh between seven and eight tons less than their standard counterparts.

      Lahti estimates the vehicles could get almost 35 miles to the gallon and foresees them being useful to anyone.

      ??Think of a UPS van, how high the floors are, and they have a lot of injuries in situations because of those,?? Lahti explained. ??With my vehicle, they wouldn??t have any of it, because they could roll their products right into the back of the vehicle without any lifting at all.??

      So, how much would a vehicle like this cost? Lahti said his initial estimates are around $20,000. He hopes to someday mass produce his vehicles on an assembly line to be driven by anybody.

      ??My idea behind this is to help the world, to help people that work with high floor vehicles,?? Lahti said. ??This is the answer, there??s no doubt.??

      For more information about Lahti Industries' low floor vehicles, check out their website here .