DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 04, 2014 - Ford Transit Connect is now the most popular vehicle for retail customers with limited mobility who are participating in the Ford Mobility Motoring Reimbursement Program.
The new Transit Connect Wagon is building off that success as an affordable people mover for those with limited mobility seeking a vehicle ready to be upfitted for independent living.
The 2014 Transit Connect Wagon, which went on sale earlier this year with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $24,525, can be upfitted with a premium seat that lowers for easy access and a lift to accommodate a motorized scooter or chair for an estimated $12,500, according to Gresham Driving Aids, a Michigan-based company that installs upfit equipment. Ultimately, the cost of upfitting a vehicle depends on what technologies are added. Some buyers opt only for the lift, which is approximately $4,000.
The affordability and functionality of the first-generation Transit Connect helped make it a popular choice for customers with mobility needs. It was the No. 1 vehicle in 2012 and 2013 for retail customers seeking reimbursement through the Ford mobility program. The program offers up to $1,000 to customers who need a modified vehicle for accessibility.
Ford Mobility Motoring Reimbursement was developed by Ford Motor Company in 1991 following passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It has processed reimbursement requests since 1992, fulfilling more than 230,000 claims.
It took less than five years for Transit Connect to get to the No. 1 spot, becoming the most popular retail vehicle with customers in the mobility program and surpassing E-Series in 2012.
“Transit Connect Wagon is a great vehicle for our program’s customers, and this is reflected in the sales momentum,” said Faye Shanor, project manager for Ford Mobility Motoring Reimbursement. “The spacious interior, capability, efficiency and affordability make it a no-brainer.”
Installing the equipment into a Transit Connect Wagon can take less than a day, depending on features. Wisconsin-based Bruno Independent Living Aids is a global manufacturer of accessibility products, with Gresham Driving Aids providing installation for local markets.
“The equipment being installed depends upon the needs of the customers,” said William Dillon, president of Gresham Driving Aids. “Some clients only need a lift for a power chair or scooter, while others may need an actual chair for the vehicle that assists them in entering and exiting the vehicle.”
The total cost of modifying a vehicle can be $12,500, given the range of chairs and lifts manufactured by Bruno Independent Living Aids, Dillon said.
Because of Transit Connect Wagon’s commercial vehicle roots, customers can also take advantage of its maximum payload of 1,270 pounds, when properly equipped.
“Transit Connect Wagon offers the right mixture of affordability, interior spaciousness and capability that is appealing to all people,” said Andrew Bayer, automotive products manager, Bruno Independent Living Aids. “Bruno is proud to work with Ford to ensure people with limited mobility are able to equip Transit Connect Wagon with the upfit options they need to help lead an independent lifestyle.”
In addition to being affordable, Transit Connect Wagon offers a spacious interior and ample headroom, especially with the long-wheelbase version. This allows for easy installation of a lift for a power scooter or chair. The vehicle has 45.1 inches of headroom in the second row; the long-wheelbase version has 41.3 inches in the third row.
Driver and front passenger door openings are wide enough to accommodate the knees and feet of occupants who need accessible seating. The doors swing open wide enough so installation technicians don’t have to alter the vehicle to accommodate an accessible seat.
Transit Connect Wagon, known as the #unminivan, is also fun and easy to drive, sharing its Ford global small car architecture with the sporty Focus model. Electric power-assisted steering is standard, making it easier for drivers to maneuver in parking lots at low speeds, or on curvy roads at higher speeds.
Customers can choose one of two fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines – the standard 2.5-liter or an optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost®. The 2.5-liter has an EPA-estimated rating of 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. Actual mileage will vary. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost has an EPA-estimated rating of 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. Actual mileage may vary. Both engines are paired to a six-speed SelectShift® transmission.
For more information about the Ford Mobility Motoring Reimbursement Program, visit www.fordmobilitymotoring.com.
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