1. Home
  2. /
  3. Uncategorised
  4. /

Specifying a bespoke conversion for an accessible vehicle can be a daunting and sometimes complicated process which has to balance needs, wants, and budget to determine the most suitable option. One of the main decisions will be whether to have a lift or a ramp fitted and it’s important to get the right support when trying to decide.

  • The process of specifying a WAV conversion should balance needs, wants, and budget.
  • A fundamental choice has to be made between a ramp or a lift.
  • Finding the right support can make a big difference to making the right decision.

A WAV conversion involves modifying a standard production car or van to enable wheelchair users to travel using their own manual or powered wheelchair as their seat in the vehicle.

Obviously, to install a wheelchair ramp, the vehicle has to be modified. Generally, this involves lowering the floor or raising the roof of the vehicle and fitting a ramp or a lift whilst maintaining enough ground clearance and structural rigidity.

In passenger WAVs, the wheelchair user is a passenger only and enters the vehicle through a side or rear door using a ramp or lift at which point their wheelchair can be secured in position.

In drive-from WAVs, wheelchair users can drive the vehicle. Usually (but not always) the modifications required mean that only they can drive it.

In up-front WAVs, the wheelchair user is the front passenger and sits next to the driver.

So for all three options, whether to install a ramp or lift is an important consideration.

Ramps can be operated electrically or manually, and although they tend to be less expensive than lifts, the user will probably require assistance for lowering and raising them which may be challenging for solo drivers. The wheelchair user must also be able to propel themselves up the slope or rely on the support of another person or a winch. Electric ramps are undoubtedly more convenient, but they are also more expensive and will need maintenance.

Although WAVs can be modified with a side or rear entrance, rear entrance models tend to be more common. The extra consideration for a rear entrance WAV is that enough space must be available behind the vehicle for the ramp or lift to be used, and the user will be entering and exiting the WAV from the road not the pavement.

However, wheelchair lifts are popular because they are more convenient to access. They are always powered, either electrically or hydraulically, and are usually operated by using a wired or wireless control panel.

The advantage of a lift, particularly for drive-from WAVs, is that it can deploy automatically when the vehicle is unlocked, and the user doesn’t have to reverse down the slope. But it’s worth remembering that over time the increased weight and bulk of a wheelchair lift will inevitably increase wear and tear on the WAV itself, as well as requiring more maintenance and upkeep than a ramp.

Utilising a WAV provider’s experience, the different options they offer, and their willingness to take time to discuss every aspect of the client’s requirements should help people to be in a far better position when it comes to making an informed choice.

Whether to have a WAV conversion with a ramp or a lift is a big decision and getting it right for each individual client should be the fundamental concern of any specialist conversion company.