In the case of many people in the developed world, the automobile serves a definitive purpose fulfilling our everyday needs. However, when the current run-of-the-mill automobiles fail to deliver the mobility in special cases, fluid automotive innovation and understanding comes to life.
Giving wheelchair-bound individuals more reach, vans of the mini as well as full-sized variety are converted to meet the needs of these specific passengers. Since typical passenger vans are engineered to cater the vast walking population, a great deal of refitting is required outside of an automotive OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in making the vehicle suitable for transporting the mobility-challenged. Offering customers of new wheelchair accessible vehicles a dedicated and quality source, Southern Florida-based Vehicle Production Group (VPG) have engineered their MV-1 to a current production-ready special mobility solution.
To be built in the United States by AM General (assembled within the Indiana state vicinity close to the military Humvees and the now-discontinued Hummer H2), the VPG MV-1 is purpose-built to accommodate the needs of the wheelchair passenger. Resembling a mix of a British-style taxi cab, a Honda Element and General Motor’s last generation minivan, the MV-1 merges as a rather smart-looking vehicle. A rarity to even find crossover, sport utility vehicles or minivans employing body-on-frame construction in this modern age of motoring, the MV-1 promotes durability for years to come. Merging of the unique 205-inch long van-like exterior, the VPG MV-1 design is intentionally utilitarian.
A vehicle built with guidance from the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the main emphasis on the MV-1’s outer shell is to promote ease of cabin ingress and exit for the mobility-challenged. Exterior door handles are maintained at a low level to be reachable by a person in a seated position. Gaining entry through the right-rear passenger door, the 36-inch by 56-inch entrance is aided by the door hinging. Swinging open to a 90 degree position, a wheelchair or scooter ride up into the MV-1 with the use of an integrated access ramp. As the 1,200 pound-rated access ramp tucks discreetly under the interior floor, a power-actuated ramp can also be opted. The power access ramp feature adjustments that compensate for entry and exit over a sidewalk or when a tight angle entrance is needed.
As a wheelchair or powered-shooter climbs into the VPG MV-1, the mobility-challenged passenger is given spacious clearance to the location of the front passenger. A special aspect of the MV-1 interior design allows the wheeled passenger to ride beside the driver. The Q’Straint® compatible restraint system anchors the wheelchair or scooter securely ahead of travel.
In addition to the wheeled passenger, up to 5 occupants can be seated comfortably inside the VPG MV-1’s cabin. The driver rides in a commercial grade front seat while a rear bench seat and an optional reverse-facing jumpseat brings the total passenger compliment to 6 inside the vehicle. Power windows, mirrors as well as cruise control is standard equipment on the VPG MV-1 to create an enjoyable trip.
An independent specialty auto company, VPG elects for a tried and true MV-1 powertrain supplied by the Ford Motor Company. Powered by Ford’s 4.6 liter V8 engine used presently on the E-Series vans, an estimated force of between 225-250 horsepower and over 280 pounds-feet of torque should be amply-fed through a 4-speed automatic transmission. Powered regularly by gasoline, VPG offers an optional chance to kick dependence on gasoline. Factory-installed Compressed Natural Gas provides up to a 290-mile cruising range while burning 29% fewer greenhouse gases than standard gasoline engines. Furnishing safety, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control are standard on the MV-1.
Final price is yet to be made official but VPG has hinted at the MV-1 retailing for less than $40,000 when it’s expected to be released in 2011. Competitively-tagged with other conversion vans, VPG aims for personal as well as business customers planning to install dignity and mobility for all.
Information Source: Vehicle Production Group
Photo Source: Chris Nagy