A handicap conversion van (alternatively called a mobility van or wheelchair van) is the name given to a specially
engineered adaptation of a vehicle to make it accessible for wheelchair users. While that may sound simple enough,
converting a vehicle safely is an intensive, complex process and not all van conversion companies build their
products to the same standards of quality and safety.
Keep reading to learn more about the van conversion process and how to ensure you’re placing your trust with a handicap van conversion dealer with a proven history of quality and safety mobility products.
How is a Conversion Van made?
Watch the designing and building of a BraunAbility wheelchair accessible vehicle process unfold and gain a new appreciation for how complex a conversion van is to build.
Every wheelchair accessible mini van conversion is built using an assembly line method, both by machine and by hand, designed to ensure duplicable quality for a best-in-class ownership experience for every customer. So how does a traditional vehicle become an accessible vehicle?
- The first step of the wheelchair van conversion is to remove the existing seating from the vehicle, as well as the interior panels. Any exposed surfaces leftover are completely covered for protection from scrapes and heat during the handicap conversion van process.
- Once the seats are removed, the vehicle’s floor is lowered and custom interior paneling is installed for a seamless blend between the original vehicle and wheelchair van conversion.
- A high-strength ramp is installed, either in the rear or the passenger slide door area. These ramps are available as either a foldout or infloor option on most models of vehicle.
- In a side-entry conversion, the rear bench seat is reinstalled, and in most models of conversion vans, the driver and front passenger seats are mounted on raised platforms. Both seats are easily removable by the vehicle owner, allowing for floor plan flexibility from one side to another. In a rear-entry conversion, only the back portion of the vehicle has a lowered floor so the front row seats remain original and are not able to be removed.
- To disguise the lowered floor extension on the exterior of the vehicle, custom-molded ground effect panels are added to both the driver and passenger sides, integrating the design.
- When all the panels are installed the new completed wheelchair accessible minivan goes through a detailed Quality Control Assessment and a 20km road test to ensure your new van performs flawlessly.
Can I purchase a minivan at my car dealership and then have it converted?
Absolutely! Be sure to contact us first to ensure you purchase a vehicle that we can convert. However, Universal Motion may already have a van that meets your needs in stock avoiding a long wait of having a van converted.
I already own a minivan. Can Universal Motion convert my van?
Possibly, but certain conditions must be met. Only certain makes and models can be converted. Additionally, the vehicle must meet an age range requirement and have less than 80,000 kilometers on the odometer. Contact us at Universal Motion or call us at 1 (877) 899-0699 to determine if your vehicle can be converted.
Can I simply add a ramp to my existing van?
No. A wheelchair ramp is just one aspect of the major re-engineering required to create an accessible van. Teams of skilled technicians work together on a modern assembly line to produce a wheelchair accessible vehicle with a lowered floor, extended doorway height, integrated wiring, a heavy-duty handicap ramp, and reconfigured seating that blends with the original design of the vehicle. Without additional vehicle modifications, a wheelchair user would not be able to comfortably and safely enter and exit the vehicle.
How long does the handicap van conversion process take?
If you decide to send your own vehicle in for conversion or place an order for a vehicle, the wait time to receive your accessible vehicle will be from 4 to 10 weeks depending on the conversion and equipment needed. Universal Motion can give you an estimate at the time of order. Universal Motion maintains a stock of wheelchair accessible vehicles converted and ready for immediate delivery. You will have a choice of vehicle and ramp styles to try out, allowing you to determine which vehicle meets your needs.
Can I buy a wheelchair vehicle lift and install it myself?
No, a wheelchair lift must be installed by a trained technician that will complete the installation with the necessary reinforcements to the floor of the van and other mounting points so that the wheelchair lift will operate safely for years to come.