4 Electric Mobility Vehicles: Which Is Right For You?
To anyone who drives a wheelchair accessible vehicle, it only makes sense to try and find one with a good fuel economy. Because of the vehicle size requirements that a wheelchair conversion needs, the only options available are usually larger, less efficient vehicles like vans or the more modern SUV.
These options are great when it comes to having a nice and comfy interior, but they can be not-so-great on your wallet when it comes time to fill up the gas tank. While it may not be possible to fit a wheelchair passenger and wheelchair conversion into a smaller vehicle, it would make sense that the next best option is an electric mobility vehicle.
Electric mobility vans and cars offer the best of both worlds: a spacious interior with room for a wheelchair and great gas mileage that lets you save some money at the pump. The only problem is that because electric and hybrid vehicles have more complicated drivetrains, it can be difficult to work around them in order to create a wheelchair accessible conversion.
That being said, there are options out there for those who are looking for wheelchair accessible electric or hybrid vehicles. Here are some of the more popular models from recent years.
The Kenguru electric car seems like an exciting development when it comes to electric mobility vehicles. It’s a wheelchair accessible electric vehicle designed from the ground up with accessibility and mobility in mind. The back hatch of the vehicle opens and deploys a ramp, allowing drivers to enter the vehicle and drive directly from their wheelchair.
While it’s certainly great to see a company designing an electric car with wheelchair accessibility in mind, it’s not the best option we’ve seen on the market. The Kenguru is more of an electric scooter than it is a car, which does bring limitations.
For starters, you likely won’t be able to take a Kenguru on any road trips (or even out of town trips) because it only has a range of 43-68 miles on a full charge. On top of that, it has a top speed that maxes out at 28 miles per hour, meaning it’s really best suited for quick trips around the city. It’s small size makes it easy to maneuver and find a place to park, but there is absolutely no room for extra passengers.
While that’s great for those who live in densely populated areas, those who live in more rural areas or even suburbs might find that this rear-entry electric car is simply not for them.
The Nissan Scoot Mobility Concept
The Nissan Scoot electric vehicle is something that people may be more familiar with, at least because of the Nissan brand. This electric vehicle, which is referred to as the “Nissan Mobility Concept” on most of the company’s marketing materials, gained some publicity when several models became available to rent around San Francisco in 2015.
That’s when Nissan teamed up with the Scoot app — an app that lets pedestrians rent and ride two-wheel electric scooters around the city — to create the 4-wheel electric scooter concept. There’s a handful of models in San Francisco that are available to rent that will carry two pedestrians.
The problem is, that’s about all we know about the Nissan Scoot. Details on what the company plans to do with the model are scarce, and it hasn’t made its way to the retail market yet.
As far as being a wheelchair accessible electric car, the Nissan Scoot is simply not quite there. The vehicle wasn’t designed with a wheelchair conversion in mind, so it would likely only come several months after a retail version of the product was put to market. Even that depends on the model being made available at all on the retail market.
Just like the Kenguru, the Nissan Scoot concept also comes with issues that might make it unsuitable for some. Its top speed and range are even lower than the Kenguru, with a top speed of 25 miles per hour and a 40 mile range with a full charge. The fact that it hasn’t been built for the ground up for mobility also means that after being converted for wheelchair use, it’s likely some features will have to be removed, like it’s second seat.
Overall, while this concept from Nissan is interesting, it’s simply too far out from being available to retail customers. It’s tough to say if it will be worth it because there are simply few details available.
The Wheelchair Accessible Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is an electric vehicle that has recently entered the mobility industry. Seeing as how the Pacifica was already a popular model for wheelchair conversions, it only makes sense that the new hybrid option made its way onto the market.
The Pacifica already has a leg up on the Nissan Scoot and the Kenguru, simply by virtue of being a hybrid vehicle that’s more traditional in design. It can travel up to 32 miles using battery power and up to 488 using gas, giving it a total range when completely charged and gassed up over 500 miles.
This all sounds great on paper — but it comes with a few caveats. The Pacifica’s hybrid battery has to be plugged in and charged regularly, meaning that owners will need to install an at-home charger through an expensive and lengthy process. You’ll be getting 30 mpg on average when the Pacifica’s battery runs out. That’s not bad for a van, but there are some more efficient wheelchair accessible hybrid vehicles out there.
Additionally, the wheelchair accessible Chrysler Pacifica conversions that we’ve seen generally have a 34” ramp, which is a bit on the narrow side when it comes to minivan wheelchair ramps.
The Chrysler Pacific Hybrid Wheelchair conversion is also hard to find. There appear to be no new models being produced by mobility manufacturers right now, so only used accessible Pacific Hybrids are available.
The Wheelchair Accessible 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid
For its fourth generation of the minivan model, Toyota decided to make the 2021 Sienna exclusively as a hybrid. As another model of van that is popular for wheelchair conversions, Freedom Motors USA engineers found that it was just as easily converted for wheelchair accessibility as its gas-powered predecessors.
This year’s iteration of the Sienna has gotten a complete redesign. Beside the hybrid drivetrain, the exterior and interior have both been modernized and look fantastic. The already sleek exterior looks even sportier now, making the Sienna look more like an SUV than a minivan. A new bridge console design on the interior utilizes the area in between the front seats to create lots of convenient storage space.
The hybrid system on the Sienna never requires a charge, and instead stores energy created while you drive. That means there’s no need to deal with the hassle of purchasing, installing and using an at-home electric car charger. Simply fill up the tank like any other car and the Sienna is ready to go, with a whopping average of 36 miles per gallon. Combined with the fact that the Superwide 40” ramp is the widest hybrid ramp in the industry and available exclusively from Freedom Motors USA, the 2021 Sienna Hybrid is an attractive choice for an electric mobility vehicle.
What’s the Best Electric Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle?
With its 2021 Sienna Hybrid, Toyota has made a strong case for themselves. With its redesigned exterior providing a modern minivan that looks more like an SUV inside and out, it’s hard to deny how slick the presentation is.
It’s not just looks — with a combined average of 36 miles per gallon, the 2021 Sienna is extremely efficient for its class. Combine all of this with a spacious interior that provides plenty of room for a wheelchair and ambulatory passengers and the Sienna Hybrid is truly a great choice for an electric wheelchair van.
Freedom Motors USA – Dedicated to Keeping You Moving
The rear-entry 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid from Freedom Motors is a great choice when it comes to mobility options or safety and convenience features. It’s roomy interior and full suite of premium features make it a great choice for a wheelchair accessible conversion.
Contact Freedom Motors today to find out more about our line of rear-entry wheelchair accessible vehicles that allow you to #ParkAnywhere.