New Wheelchair-Accessible Car Tours America

DOWNEY, Calif. - The MV-1, billed as the first car designed and built to be wheelchair accessible, kicked off a national meet-and-greet campaign in July by visiting Southern California's renowned Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

The vehicle will be built by Vehicle Production Group (VPG), an American manufacturer based in Miami. Assembly will take place in Mishawaka, Wisc., at AM General's facilities.

Accessibility features of the MV-1 include an in-floor ramp and a Q'Straint track system for wheelchair or scooter securement. The ramp is available in manual or power formats, and in three configurations: manual short angle, power short-deployment and power long-deployment. The vehicle comes standard with a captain's style driver's seat, but without a front passenger seat. A rear bench rounds out the MV-1's standard seating, with wheelchair maneuverability room provided between the driver's seat and the bench.

VPG CEO Dave Schembri, on hand at Rancho to field media questions and talk up the car with Rancho therapists and clients, said the MV-1 would be sold not through automotive or mobility dealers, but via the vpgautos.com Web site. Consumers visit the site, configure their vehicles online, and then pay a $250 deposit per car to complete their reservations.

Production on the MV-1 is due to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010, and VPG's summer plans involve introducing the MV-1 at various rehab hospitals, malls and independent living centers in what the company has dubbed its "Wheels Across America" tour.

Fleet sales, Schembri says, are expected to be strong for the MV-1, with paratransit, taxi, rental car and assisted living companies among its target customers.

Visit the VPG Web site for more information on where to see the MV-1 near you.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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