The Practicality of a New Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

By the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA)

In our September 2010 issue, we printed a news story about the MV-1, touted as the first automotive vehicle with built-in wheelchair accessibility right from the factory. The Vehicle Production Group (VPG), maker of the MV-1, intends to sell the car online rather than through NMEDA dealers, thus potentially posing a future challenge for adaptive automotive suppliers. This is NMEDA’s response. — Ed.

In any industry, when a new product enters the competitive market, it is wise to research its purpose, its target audience and how the product will meet the needs of consumers. Dave Hubbard, CEO of the National Equipment Mobility Dealers Association (NMEDA) and select NMEDA dealers have offered the following points regarding the MV-1 in comparison to the models and services offered by NMEDA manufacturers and dealers:

Vehicles: Building vs. Modifying

The MV-1 is being manufactured by Vehicle Production Group (VPG) with the purpose of providing easy access for wheelchair users, allowing them to ride in the front passenger space of the vehicle. The vehicle is produced with standard modifications for people with disabilities to ride in wheelchairs, and it offers several upgradeable configurations.

NMEDA dealers provide multiple options for buyers so that buyers may make changes to their vehicles of choice based on their own specific needs. As stated by Mr. Hubbard, ”There is no such thing as a standard disability. Because disabilities vary, so must vehicle modifications.” NMEDA dealers give consumers the ability to drive vehicles customized to their specific needs, that, on the outside, look the same as everyone else’s.

Customization Standard Model vs. In-Person Evaluations

VPG customers order the MV-1 online. Upgrade options are available to MV-1 customers through on-online configurations.

Qualified NMEDA dealers provide an inperson evaluation and a customizable solution to meet buyers’ specific needs. NMEDA dealers also provide instruction and product refinements as needed to their wide variety of customers, even after modifications are made.

Point A to Point B: Passenger vs. Driver

The MV-1 allows people in a wheelchair to sit in the front passenger seat of a vehicle that needs to be driven by someone else. It also has a standard driver seat and does not offer hand controls or other adaptive services with the standard options.

NMEDA dealers offer those with disabilities the ability to drive safely in reliable modified vehicles, through hand controls or other adaptive devices, as recommended by the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED).

Parts and Service: Quality Assurance Program

VPG has stated that they have plans to open a network of service centers, but that such a network is not currently in place. NMEDA offers a network of dealers who are Quality Assurance Program (QAP)- accredited technicians and offer 24-hour emergency service to their customers.

NMEDA dealers are nationwide and have years of experience servicing adapted vehicles. As summed up by Hubbard, “Being a mobility dealer calls for delivering top-notch customer service at every step of the way, throughout all phases of researching, test-driving, modifying, purchasing and servicing.”

Regardless of the type of vehicle being purchased, Hubbard urges consumers to explore all their options before making a vehicle purchase.

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

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

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