Coon Rapids resident Christopher Anderson is spreading the news that those confined to a wheelchair or scooter have a new option for transportation: the MV-1.
Manufactured by the Vehicle Production Group, this vehicle is the first to be specifically designed for mobility transportation, rather than a vehicle converted for that purpose.
“It’s the first one built from the ground up… many other metro mobility vehicles are really scary to get into,” Anderson said.
The Rydell Auto Outlet and Garage on County Road 10 in Mounds View is the only dealer in Minnesota that sells the MV-1.
Anderson works there as a MV-1 specialist and since he himself is confined to a mobility scooter because of a disability, he’s also able to market the vehicle as a user and provide ideas for MV-1 developments.
“I can help people and relate to a lot of people… I believe this product can really help people,” Anderson said.
Many mobility vehicles on the road today are regular automobiles that have been converted into mobility vehicles, according to Rydell Auto Outlet and Garage General Manager Reg Proulx.
The frames of these vehicles were cut and then welded back together.
Anderson said these conversion vehicles frequently have a lot of rust problems, especially with the ramps. The MV-1, by contrast, is a “purpose-built vehicle” with the intentions of being a wheelchair vehicle.
The MV-1 meets all American Disability Association requirements, according to Anderson. One of the vehicle’s distinguishing features is that the wheelchair ramp goes underneath the floor boards instead of up against the door. The vehicle also offers the option for the mobility passenger to ride in the front passenger area, an option not normally available in most mobility vehicles.
Anderson got connected with MV-1 of Minnesota after he had done a quick Internet search about the MV-1 and found Rydell Auto Outlet was the only dealer in the state.
He contacted Proulx and the two started working together. Anderson had a background in sales and a love for the product.
Proulx said Anderson’s insight has been valuable for understanding how to market the MV-1.
“We don’t know about the industry and the needs and wants of those in wheelchairs… he’s been really helpful in giving a good understanding of what that looks like,” he said.
A demographic study revealed to Proulx and Anderson that there are 2,800 individuals within 15 miles of the store that have some level of a disability. Along with mobility purposes, the MV-1 has also been used by vending companies and catering companies because of the large amount of space available, according to Proulx.
With incentives, Proulx said the current MV-1 model cost is in the low $40,000 range and the 2011 model is in the low $30,000 range.
The first MV-1 came out in 2010. There are currently deluxe and basic models available. A new model, possibly a luxury model, will be coming out in 2013, according to Proulx.
The MV-1 has a compressed natural gas fueling system option, allowing the vehicle to run on natural gas instead of gasoline. It is also one of the first domestic cars manufactured in 30 to 40 years, Proulx said.
“That’s neat when you think about it, because the car industry went through a rough time,” he said.
Currently the largest market for the MV-1 is in Chicago, Ill., where they are assuring that 10 percent of all taxi fleets will be wheelchair accessible. The MV-1 was also featured on the Jay Leno’s Garage Internet site.
While MV-1 of Minnesota currently does not offer MV-1 rentals, Proulx said it is hoping to offer them in the future.
Since Rydell Auto Outlet and Garage became a MV-1 dealer in November 2011, Proulx said it has sold a handful of MV-1s, but mostly to individuals that live out of state.
Bethany Kemming is at [email protected]