VMI Launches Accessible AWD Minivan
- By Laurie Watanabe
- May 18, 2021
Vantage Mobility International (VMI) has launched a wheelchair-accessible all-wheel-drive (AWD) minivan.
In a May 18 news announcement, VMI said that the vehicle, built on the Toyota Sienna hybrid powertrain, is the first AWD van that’s wheelchair accessible.
The AWD system “introduces new possibilities to the wheelchair user community to drive with greater traction and control in a variety of environments, even in inclement weather conditions,” the announcement added.
VMI noted that the AWD system is retained without the need to alter the OEM suspension on the Sienna: “By preserving the original suspension system, vehicle owners will enjoy unmatched ride, maneuverability, and performance without sacrificing accessibility.”
The hybrid Sienna powertrain has an estimated mpg of 35/36 combined. The vehicle is equipped with the Northstar in-floor wheelchair ramp system and has been crash tested to all federal motor vehicle safety standards.
The VMI Toyota Sienna features a patented wheel well cover design that more closely resembles the appearance of an unconverted vehicle — a change brought about by customer feedback, VMI said. Interchangeable front seats are built into the Sienna as standard, and the vehicle includes VMI’s ParkSmart obstruction alert system, which continually scans for obstacles around the vehicle when it’s parked and issues an audio alert if the van’s entry is blocked.
VMI’s Toyota Sienna Hybrid is available in front- or all-wheel drive, and includes the Sure Deploy back-up ramp system. New conversion purchases are accompanied by a one-year Mobility Roadside Assistance membership that includes a paratransit ride, if the accessible vehicle needs to be towed.
Mark Shaughnessy, VMI’s CEO, said of the launch, “We’re building more than just a mode of transportation for customers. Our accessible vehicles create a gateway to independent mobility while providing customers with robust features that increase convenience, maintain safety, and heighten the riding experience. As a leader in the mobility industry, we must keep stretching our abilities to design products that are both functional and have attributes that our customers deserve for optimum vehicle ownership.”
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.