Hitting the open road can prove to be costly when looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. In your efforts to cut costs without compromising on quality, be sure to consider the fuel-economy or efficiency of the auto you’re eyeing. Curbing your long-term spending on gas can alleviate the stress of the initial purchase and conversion costs. Not to mention you’ll be helping to save the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. While options may seem limited now, manufacturers are making strides in motivating wheelchair users towards purchasing better-performing vehicles. They may even be more stylish than your average minivan.
Here are just a few to start your search:
Kenguru Wheelchair Accessible Electric Vehicle
Based out of Texas, the start-up company Community Cars has developed an affordable commuting option for users with wheelchairs. The Kenguru is a single passenger electric vehicle that provides a range of 70-110 km (45-70 miles) taking approximately 8 hours to charge with a regular 110v outlet and a top speed of 45km/h (30 mph).
Unlike traditional vans that are modified for use by individuals with disabilities, the small car eliminates passenger doors and incorporates a rear hatch system for easy access by loading onto a ramp that can be used at curb or street height. The Kenguru features a steel frame construction under a fiberglass chassis that weighs nearly 550kg. It uses fully motorized handlebar-styled controls, and is powered with two ‘permanent magnet synchronous motors’ for each wheel, making it rear wheel drive.
The company is now currently seeking funding on Rockethub to produce the car by early to mid 2013, and plans to introduce a joystick-operated model for those who are unable to use the motorized handlebars.
In addition to offering abundant passenger and cargo room, it’s full of features that support those with mobility issues. For example, there’s low-effort steering, which makes turning the wheel easier for drivers with compromised upper-body strength. There’s also keyless start, which eliminates the need for the key turning that can be painful for those with stiff wrists. The Prius also offers peerless fuel economy, with EPA ratings of 51-city/48-highway mpg, which means less frequent fill-up hassles at the gas station.
The trendy Scion XB is available with a wheelchair accessible conversion from Freedom Motors. The Scion XS-Able combines practicality and economy in a small, fuel-efficient accessible package. At 28 mpg, the Freedom Motors XS-Able wheelchair accessible car conversion of the sporty Scion XB is one of the most fuel-efficient new and used accessible vehicles for sale.
Equipped with a manual rear door and wheelchair ramp, this wheelchair accessible vehicle offers ease of parking, easy access and convenience in a small package. This vehicle offers seating for a driver, one passenger in the factory front passenger seat and one wheelchair passenger.
Vehicle Production Group’s MV-1
By VPG, The MV-1 is the only vehicle in its class with an available OEM engineered and assembled Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling system option. With a 290-mile range and 29.1 square ft. cargo volume space, it’s ideal for fleet operations. This is the first factory-direct wheelchair accessible vehicle that meets or exceeds the vehicle guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
CNG is a “green” alternative fuel that is cleaner burning than gasoline, less expensive for drivers than gasoline, and is abundant here in the United States, so it reduces our nation’s dependency on foreign oil imports.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.
Going Green with Fuel Efficient Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles