The FINANCIAL — As our nation marks 25 years of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, BraunAbility and Ford Motor Company are introducing a vehicle with the potential to change the face of an industry and bring greater mobility to people in wheelchairs.
The BraunAbility MXV – a wheelchair-accessible vehicle based on Ford Explorer – gives wheelchair users the quality and dependability of a BraunAbility mobility vehicle and the adventurous, “unstoppable” spirit of the world’s best-selling sport utility vehicle. The BraunAbility MXV is the company’s first-ever volume production SUV offering, according to Ford.
Named for founder Ralph Braun, the Winamac, Indiana-based company has revolutionized what independence means to wheelchair users, establishing itself as a world leader in automotive mobility products, including wheelchair-accessible vehicles and lifts for consumer, commercial and taxi markets. Braun, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 73, was honored as a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama in 2012.
The MXV concept vehicle was introduced earlier this year in Daytona, Florida, when BraunAbility celebrated the moment by promising the first production MXV would be donated to wounded veteran Mike Delancey. Delancey, a United States Marine paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet while serving in Iraq in 2006, survived 42 days in intensive care, and is now working to open Wounded Warrior’s Abilities Ranch – a place where veterans can strengthen body and mind through exercise and recreation.
Production of the new MXV will begin in August in BraunAbility’s 170,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Winamac, with vehicles available in early fall. The BraunAbility MXV will be available for purchase at more than 200 authorized BraunAbility mobility dealers throughout the United States.
The BraunAbility MXV features patented sliding-door technology, removable driver and passenger seats, and a powered, lighted in-floor ramp. In addition, the interior space of the vehicle is maximized to create ample room for wheelchair navigation and comfort.
“For our first-ever wheelchair-accessible SUV, it was important we worked with the best,” said Nick Gutwein, BraunAbility president and CEO. “We wanted to create a vehicle that personifies freedom and independence, and the Ford Explorer provides the ultimate base to achieve that.”
BraunAbility scoured the popular SUV segment in search of the right vehicle before settling on Ford Explorer – the best-selling SUV in the U.S. for the last 25 years.
Innovative sliding-door technology and the lighted, in-floor ramp are highlights, but they are just two of the features that make this a uniquely accommodating ride. Wheelchair users will be able to drive the vehicle from a wheelchair, or ride as a passenger. Additional features include:
54-inch door height
28-inch ramp width
Sliding shifter for increased space
Space-saving front seat base design
Integrated key fob that operates both door and ramp
Available tow package
Transfer seat capable
With Explorer’s middle-row seat removed, the BraunAbility MXV provides interior space to fit the most common power wheelchair models, and its 56-inch cabin height provides a spacious interior for a comfortable ride.
Featuring a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the BraunAbility MXV delivers performance and capability Explorer drivers have embraced for years, including an EPA-estimated rating of 17 city mpg, 24 highway mpg and 20 combined mpg. Actual mileage will vary. The MXV also delivers an estimated 5,000-pound maximum tow capacity.
“The MXV is a revolutionary vehicle, and we’re thrilled with Explorer’s role in helping bring it to market,” said Craig Patterson, Ford utility vehicle marketing manager. “For 25 years, the Explorer name has symbolized freedom and adventure, and the BraunAbility MXV adds another chapter to that story.”