Disabled Americans make up a large and growing part of our population. In general, Americans are living longer, millions of Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, thousands of disabled vets are returning home, and traffic crashes and other accidents are resulting in a growing number of individuals learning to deal with physical challenges.
But no one wants to give up their freedom and independence, particularly their ability to drive. Car companies have long recognized that certain of its customers – or their family members, friends or loved ones, may need some form of adaptive equipment on their vehicles to permit them to retain their independence and have created mobility programs to help ease the burden. Here is an overview of some of these programs, beginning with the oldest and longest-running.
Chrysler 2012 Automobility eventEnlarge Photo
The first automaker to provide financial help to consumers to buy adaptive equipment, Chrysler Group now has more than 25 years’ experience in helping customers with physical challenges to get back on the road and on with their lives.
The Chrysler Automobility Program, which started in 1987, provides up to $1,000 reimbursement to customers who get adaptive equipment on their new Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Fiat vehicles within six months of purchase. Reimburse is based on the cost of the equipment and the category in which they’ve upfitted the vehicle.
“This equipment is quite expensive,” said Larry Whitefield, head of the Automobility program, “ranging from about $400 for running boards, to upwards of $18,000 for a lowered floor minivan adaptation.”
Whitefield added that the most common adaptation is a lowered floor to accommodate a wheelchair, either an adaptive lowered floor on the side or rear entrance. The number one vehicle for this type of adaptation is the minivan. Chrysler currently has more than 50 percent of mobility claims or market share.
To help get the word out during the first National Mobility Awareness Month, Chrysler held a week-long Automobility event for employees at its headquarters during the third week of May. Various types of adaptive equipment were displayed on the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, the Jeep Wrangler SUV, Chrysler 300 full-size sedan, and Fiat 500. See coverage of the event in the video below.
For more information about the Chrysler Automobility Program and to obtain application for reimbursement, visit the company’s website, call them at 1-800-255-9877.
Ford F-150 - adaptive equipment
The Ford Mobility Motoring program provides up to $1,200 reimbursement for adaptive equipment or up to $200 for alert hearing devices and lumbar support. The reimbursement for eligible adaptive equipment is available on the purchase of any new Ford or Lincoln vehicle purchased or leased from a U.S. dealer. Eligible vehicles must have the qualifying adaptive equipment installed within one year of the purchase or lease.
Adaptive equipment includes carriers, door openers, hand controls, lifts, parking brakes, power assist seats, steering devices and wheelchair restraints.
The Ford Mobility Motoring website has detailed information on selecting a vehicle and cross-referencing the compatible adaptive equipment, the reimbursement program, a downloadable state-specific resource guide on mobility providers, FAQ and more. For questions about eligibility, contact the Ford Mobility Customer Care Center at 1-800-952-2248.