As July 4 approaches, it's probably a good idea for Americans to take a step back and consider what their country is really about. Freedom? Sure, but it's also about mobility: social, economic, and physical. For people with disabilities, that last one can be difficult to achieve, but the Miami, Florida-based Vehicle Production Group aims to change that with a new ride called the MV-1.
Over the years, we've seen a few nifty solutions to the problem of wheelchair access. More often than not, however, they've looked like afterthoughts -- occasionally elegant, but still afterthoughts. According to VPG, however, the MV-1:
"is not a converted van or other aftermarket product, which is generally more costly, not engineered for this purpose, and does not carry a factory warranty. Instead, the MV-1 is a vehicle that has been engineered, designed and built from the ground up to accommodate wheelchair accessibility and overall ease of entry and exit, as well as provide a comfortable ride."
The MV-1 began as the Standard Taxi, which was unveiled at the 2007 New York Auto Show. Since then, VPG has gathered a lot of feedback, moved its headquarters from Troy, Michigan to Miami (hey, follow the demographic, right?), reworked the ride, and renamed it the MV-1. The final product is fully ADA-compliant, with an access ramp rated to 1,200 pounds, a 36"-wide entry door, and room for six.
On the powertrain front, there are two options. The more common will be the 4.6-liter V8 Ford engine, but VPG does offer a somewhat surprising Compressed Natural Gas system as an alternative for the green-minded.
We haven't been invited on a test drive yet (hint hint), but VPG's website looks as good as many we've seen. Perhaps we'll get some up-close-and-personal time during the MV-1's nationwide tour, which kicked off in Philadelphia last weekend and continues through September. If not, we'll have to wait until the final quarter of 2010, when the MV-1 finally starts rolling onto lots (though distribution details have yet to be announced). Pricing for the base model will begin around $40,000, with tax credits available for CNG models.
Watch the two videos below for more info about the MV-1, and if your interest is piqued, check out VPG's full press release, which has more details about the tour.
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The Vehicle Production Group Announces Public Debut of the First Factory-Built Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
THE MV-1 WHEELS ACROSS AMERICA TOUR to Visit 27 Cities
MIAMI, June 28 -- MIAMI, June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- For the more than 14 million Americans who must use wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers or other mobility devices, routine activities such as traveling in a vehicle present a significant obstacle in their daily lives. These individuals, as well as caregivers, paratransit fleet operators, and all consumers, will soon have an opportunity to experience the first factory-built wheelchair accessible vehicle, aptly named the MV-1 for the "first Mobility Vehicle." The MV-1 is not a converted van or other aftermarket product, which is generally more costly, not engineered for this purpose, and does not carry a factory warranty. Instead, the MV-1 is a vehicle that has been engineered, designed and built from the ground up to accommodate wheelchair accessibility and overall ease of entry and exit, as well as provide a comfortable ride.
The Vehicle Production Group (VPG), a new American car company and manufacturer of the MV-1, is launching a national road show, The MV-1 Wheels Across America Tour on June 28, in Philadelphia, to introduce the revolutionary MV-1. The tour will provide interested consumers with a hands-on experience, allowing them to interact with the MV-1 and VPG product specialists. The 27-city tour will make stops at rehabilitation centers, assisted living properties, hospitals, as well as retail outlets and lifestyle centers, through September.
Proudly built in the USA, at the AM General assembly plant in Mishawaka, Ind., the MV-1 is the first vehicle designed and engineered from the ground up for wheelchair accessibility, and the only vehicle that meets or exceeds the stringent vehicle guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The versatile MV-1 features a unique deployable access ramp with a 1,200-pound weight capacity, a spacious 36-inch entryway and an interior containing more than 190 cubic feet of interior volume, seating up to six people comfortably.
"There is still a large gap in transportation options available to individuals with mobility issues, even as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act that was signed into law to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities," said Dave Schembri, CEO of VPG. "We heard loud and clear from the special needs community in more than 50 focus groups that they feel aftermarket-converted vehicles are a compromise. The participants expressed the opinion that generally, aftermarket vehicle conversions are an afterthought. The MV-1 is breaking through that barrier with a vehicle that provides wheelchair users easier entry, a more comfortable ride, and is far easier to exit than any other new vehicle."
The tour will stop in each of the 27 cities for approximately three days, starting in Philadelphia on June 28th and ending in San Diego in mid-September. The anticipated road show schedule is noted on the next page. Interested consumers can go to www.vpgautos.com to find the entire tour schedule.
"The MV-1 Wheels Across America Tour provides a great opportunity for all consumers to discover the MV-1 and get up close and personal with this amazing vehicle," said Schembri.
The tour will roll into each city in a 53-foot, MV-1-branded semi-trailer featuring depictions of the MV-1. The trailer will transform into a mobile MV-1 exhibit, complete with interactive displays and virtual demonstrations, all at the proper height to allow wheelchair users access to the information thereby qualifying the entire tour as ADA-compliant. The stars of the show will be the production quality MV-1 vehicles: a black MV-1 with the standard Ford 4.6L V8 gasoline engine, and a white MV-1 that runs on a clean-burning Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). During the tour, consumers will be able to experience firsthand the vehicle's unparalleled accessibility and learn about its long list of features and benefits. MV-1 representatives will be on site and available to assist and answer questions.
Consumers may also place a reservation for their very own MV-1 at www.vpgautos.com.
The MV-1 road show is scheduled to stop in the following cities between June 28 and September 17:
Philadelphia, Pa. (June 28 - 30)
New York, N.Y. (July 2 - 4)
Boston, Mass. (July 7 - 9)
Chicago, Ill. (July 13 - 15)
Los Angeles, Calif. (July 16 - 18)
San Francisco, Calif. (July 20 - 22)
Washington, D.C. (July 20 - 22)
Detroit, Mich. (July 26 - 28)
Seattle, Wash. (July 26 - 28)
Indianapolis, Ind. (July 30 - Aug. 1)
Salt Lake City, Utah (July 31 - Aug. 2)
St. Louis, Mo. (Aug. 4 - 6)
Denver, Colo. (Aug. 6 - 8)
Charlotte, N.C. (Aug. 9 - 11)
Oklahoma City, Okla. (Aug. 11 - 13)
Atlanta, Ga. (Aug. 13 - 15)
Dallas, Texas (Aug. 16 - 18)
Jacksonville, Fla. (Aug. 18 - 20)
Houston, Texas (Aug. 20 - 22)
Orlando, Fla. (Aug. 23 - 25)
San Antonio, Texas (Aug. 24 - 26)
Miami, Fla. (Aug. 27 - 29)
Tampa, Fla. (Aug. 31 - Sept. 2)
Austin, Texas (Aug. 30 - Sept. 1)
Phoenix, Ariz. (Sept. 6 - 8)
Las Vegas, Nev. (Sept. 10 - 12)
San Diego, Calif. (Sept. 15 - 17)
About the MV-1
The ADA-compliant MV-1 is expected to go on sale in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2010 in two trim levels. Although final pricing has yet to be announced, the Base model is expected to be value priced under $40,000 and will include standard features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), a deployable manual ramp, anti-slip floor and ramp surface, Q-Straint® Wheelchair Restraint Track System, and a 6-way adjustable commercial driver's seat. The well-equipped Deluxe model includes the standard features on the Base model, plus a telescoping power ramp, rear window wiper, cruise control and cargo area floor trim package. Both models are equipped with a Ford 4.6L V8 engine and are available with either a traditional gasoline engine or a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuel system.
The MV-1 is available in five colors - arctic white, jet black, sterling silver, cherry red and midnight blue. All colors come standard with gray leatherette interior. Additional details regarding MV-1 specifications and available options can be found on www.vpgautos.com.
With its incredible durable body-on-frame vehicle architecture, the MV-1 is built like a truck - strong and dependable - yet rides like a car. VPG designed the vehicle with input from wheelchair users and caregivers, along with paratransit fleet owners, and then road tested it relentlessly. In fact, the company tested prototypes through accelerated durability driving on test tracks that duplicate the toughest roads in America. In addition, the integrated ramp has been extensively tested for reliability and durability by continuously deploying it for months at a time, without fail. All of this testing ensures that it works every single time it is needed. All vehicles come with a 5-year / 75,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Go Green with Optional CNG
The MV-1 is the only U.S. built vehicle and the only vehicle in its segment with an available Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) engineered and assembled CNG fuel system option. Because the system is factory installed, the MV-1 with the CNG option ensures the same durability, reliability and quality as the gasoline-powered vehicle, while reducing operating expenses since CNG is usually far less expensive than gasoline. The CNG fuel system features an estimated 290-mile range with three lightweight tanks seamlessly integrated into the vehicle design, allowing customers to be environmentally conscious without sacrificing significant storage capacity.
Online Reservation Process
Consumers can build and order an MV-1 at www.vpgautos.com. For a $250 refundable deposit, customers can select their model preference (either Base or Deluxe), engine type (either traditional gasoline or dedicated clean-burning CNG), exterior vehicle color and other options. Along with the ability to build and order an MV-1, the website provides specific vehicle information, videos and links to social media websites.
About The Vehicle Production Group LLC
Headquartered in South Fla., The Vehicle Production Group LLC (VPG) designs, manufactures, markets and distributes the first mobility vehicle engineered from the ground up for wheelchair accessibility. The vehicle, aptly named the "MV-1" (the first Mobility Vehicle), is the only vehicle that meets or exceeds the stringent vehicle guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more information, visit www.vpgautos.com