As the shift to increased mainstream electric vehicle use gains momentum, it appears to be a more difficult transition for users of adapted vehicles, who face additional challenges at conversion level besides the usual insufficiency of accessible charging points.
The European Mobility Group (EMG) has highlighted problems that exist for adapted EV usage such as lack of accessible public charging, the new technical training and skills required for converters, and refigured safety protocols.
Challenges for the converters include navigating approvals from the vehicle manufacturers, as well as the necessary approvals required for a WAV to comply with the law. The increased power consumption of an adapted electric vehicle may limit its range while the location and size of the batteries may render some conversions impossible. The increased weight of an adapted EV may exceed a vehicle’s gross weight, and the cost of adapting an already more expensive EV may be prohibitive.
In addition, further complications arise when the modifications themselves require electronic solutions, as this may affect other standard electronic functions of an electric vehicle.
Lowering the floor of a WAV to increase interior height without raising the roof so that wheelchair users can be at eye level with other passengers and windows, the addition of lifts and ramps, seat adaptations, and tie-down systems require cutting through the floor of the vehicle – into the space where the batteries are housed in an EV.
So, what solutions might there be?
Firstly, collaboration between manufacturers and converters is key. As was the case initially with non-electric conversions, companies must work together to make adapted electric vehicles compliant and warrantied. Concerns from manufacturers regarding the modification of electronics have some justification, but satisfactory solutions are achievable.
And it’s not all bad news.
The new Mercedes-Benz V-Class EQV is the first fully-electric premium MPV wheelchair accessible vehicle and is uniquely available from Lewis Reed. Our specialist design team has made intelligent changes to this high quality performance vehicle, and it comes with all the qualities and assurances expected from both Mercedes-Benz and Lewis Reed.
Using a professional and experienced wheelchair accessible vehicle provider who offers high quality conversions and excellent customer service should provide customers with the confidence and support to choose their ideal WAV.