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Handicapped-accessible MV-1 van now available

 Episcopal SeniorLife Communities is transporting residents who use a wheelchair or walker in a new van designed from the ground up for people with disabilities. The MV-1 is manufactured by Florida-based Vehicle Product Group LLC and is available for sale at Henderson Ford in Webster. / JEFFREY BLACKWELL staff photographer


Episcopal SeniorLife Communities is the first in the area to receive a new type of handicapped-accessible van designed from the ground up for people who use wheelchairs, scooters or walkers to get around.

The vehicle is small, easy to use and allows passengers to stay in their wheelchair and sit in the front next to the driver. The MV-1 is new to the market, built by Florida-based Vehicle Production Group.

“For millions of disabled Americans, the only mobility alternative to the MV-1 is to buy a standard automobile and then pay thousands in retrofitting costs, compromising its design integrity,” said Fred Drasner, chairman and CEO of Vehicle Production Group.

“The MV-1 is truly revolutionary: a wheelchair-accessible car that is designed from the ground up to meet or exceed guidelines” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

SeniorLife, located on Mt. Hope Avenue, provides services and housing for senior citizens including nursing services, assisted living and transportation for residents. Teresa Galbier, vice president of community outreach, said the new van is a perfect fit for its clients.

“It’s an incredible benefit to the folks who reside here,” she said. “If it were not for this vehicle and the accessibility of it, perhaps some of our residents could not go out in the community.”

The MV-1 is about the size of a small SUV. Doors on the side open wide and with the push of a couple of buttons, a ramp is lowered to the curb to allow a wheelchair access to the vehicle. Once inside, the wheelchair and its passenger are secured in the front passenger section next to the driver. There are also benches in the back for additional passengers.

The vehicle is much smaller and less expensive than a conventional conversion van, which are usually full-sized vans that are sent to a company that makes them handicapped-accessible. The cost of a new conversion van can range between $30,000 and $70,000. The price of the MV-1 ranges between $41,000 and just over $43,000.

“This is nice because it is a lot more intimate, it’s a lot more user friendly and if just one person wants to go out in the community, we can use this van,” Galbier said. “It’s also much more cost effective.”

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The vans are being sold though Henderson Ford in Webster. It is the only dealership for the MV-1 in the region.

Randy Henderson, president of Henderson Ford, said one of the reasons the company decided to sell the vans is because the market for people who use wheelchairs, scooters and walkers is underserved in the area.

Sales are going well with several pre-orders and a couple sold off the lot. Henderson said the dealership has received interest from transportation companies, senior homes and other firms.

“After talking with the CEO of the Vehicle Production Group, it just seemed like a real good fit for us,” he said. “It was an additional franchise, a business opportunity and serving the need of the community at the same time.”

Lois Yendrusiak, 93, rides in the van when she goes to the doctor or to other appointments. She uses a walker and the ramp to the small van provides easy access for her.

“It’s great, it’s great,” she said. “And I have a good driver.”

Henderson expects an increasing market for accessible vehicles as baby boomers age.

“A lot of us are maturing and sometimes our mobility needs assistance,” he said. “This is the perfect vehicle.”



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