Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, or WAVs as they are known, are vehicles that have been converted so that wheelchair users can stay in their wheelchair as they travel, either as a passenger or driver. There are many different vehicles that can be converted into WAVs but the most defining factor is headroom.
WAVs are not suitable for everyone, but if you aren’t able to transfer out of your wheelchair into a vehicle, then it could be that a WAV will offer a freedom that was hitherto not available. Here, Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, takes a look at five of the most commonly adapted vehicles for wheelchair users to ride in as passengers.
If you need more information about WAVs, Motability has produced a downloadable document and an accompanying DVD outlining how to choose and get financial help with your WAV. Most WAVs are accessed via ramps but lifts are also an option.
The VW Caddy is a popular choice as it is relatively compact. Sirus
Automotive offers a conversion in which the wheelchair user can sit up front with the driver. The Sirus ‘U-Can’ is based on the 1.6 Turbo Diesel 7 speed DSG Automatic Caddy MPV.
The Fiat Multipla is another vehicle ripe for conversion to a WAV. Its generous width has allowed Motability Nationwide to produce a model in which the wheelchair user can roll up the rear ramp and sit alongside the driver while another passenger can sit in the back.
The Fiat Doblo from Access Alternatives has a neat lightweight bi-fold ramp with a very gentle access angle of 12 degrees into the vehicle. But the wheelchair user does have to travel alone in the rear of the vehicle. Not the most social of options but certainly a good way of carrying a wheelchair user and up to two rear seat passengers.
Alfred Bekker markets the Peugeot Independence, a flexible wheelchair accessible vehicle based on the spacious Peugeot Expert Tepee. This vehicle is ideal for larger families or small groups requiring wheelchair accessible transport as it can accommodate up to six passengers besides the driver and wheelchair user.
The converted Renault Kangoo can have a manual ramp, or an automatic slope which lowers the vehicle and makes entry easy. In the back two individual seats ensure a social journey for the wheelchair user, at the sides of the four other passengers. With its folding seats Kangoo can offer more space in the back if needed.