On Friday, November 28, Joey McColm, Canadian Nascar driver for Canada's Best Racing Team, took part in the MV-1 Canada Dealers conference. The conference focused on brainstorming ideas for fuel and economy conservation efforts, increased customer service, and, most of all, accessibility solutions. MV–1 is the first vehicle of its kind. It is universally designed from the ground up with people with disabilities in mind and those who use a wheelchair. It marks a significant step forward in accessible transportation for the disabled in Canada.
Joey McColm had a chance to speak with Peter Grande, President of MV-1 Canada, to find out more about the MV-1 vehicle. He learned that there is no functional difference between purpose-built cars and mass-produced (retrofitted) vehicles when it comes to vehicles with accessibility ramps. However, the MV-1 vehicles are built right, from the start, for the purpose of transporting the disabled. They are solely dedicated to becoming a pioneer in this niche of vehicle production.
Here's what Peter Grande had to say about the MV-1 vehicle:
What is the difference between manufacturing a purpose-built vehicle and a mass-produced car?
Actually, there is NO difference whatsoever between a purpose-built car and a mass-produced car. Our car is held up to all the same testing and standards as every other mass-produced car, while the conversions or altered accessible vans meet all those standards through crash test exemptions.
Does it require special materials?
While the MV-1 is a one-of-a-kind vehicle that has set the new standard for accessibility, it hasn't done so through extensive, proprietary technologies. The only thing that is unique to the MV-1 is its ramp/unique body panels and glass. After that, all parts are standard parts that already exist and can be purchased at NAPA Auto Parts etc. across North America. We didn't reinvent the wheel, but we did reinvent safety and durability in the accessible vehicle marketplace.
Why might a purpose-built car be better than the retrofitting option?
Purpose-built, or "Universally Designed" is better than retrofitting because it is done right, the first time, as it was meant to be used. The primary definition of Universal design is that it involves designing products and spaces to be used by the broadest range of people possible with the least amount of adaptation.
Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury, and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use.
The MV-1 was created with Universal design principles in every stage and is the only Car Manufacturer to win the prestigious DaVinci Award for Universal Design back in 2010.
Can people with disabilities expect more models and configurations of mobility vehicles in the future?
YES!! We hope to become the world's first and only Accessible Vehicle manufacturer. Just like Ford, who started with the Model T, we expect to have a full lineup of vehicles in the coming years to help serve our diverse and growing communities across North America.
Should people expect an increase in purpose-built vehicles in future?
I think we have set a new standard, and I do believe that others will have to start living up to this standard as we increase awareness and educate the community on the benefits of Universal Design.
Are there any plans to manufacture hybrid vehicles?
The MV-1 already has a direct-from-factory, dedicated Natural Gas engine as well as optional Propane upgrades. Until Hybrid technology becomes more reliable and capable of providing the proper range of driving that our customer base needs, we cannot look at this option. In saying that, we are ALWAYS looking at improving our products to meet the needs and desires of our community.