Valley company among largest wheelchair accessible car producers
PHOENIX — While wheelchairs symbolize independence for many people with disabilities, long-term travel can be tricky, especially for power wheelchair users.
That’s why some companies are working to make existing vehicles work for passengers and drivers who use wheelchairs.
Vantage Mobility International is a Valley-based company that reconstructs existing cars and vans to be wheelchair accessible.
“We have a manufacturing facility, and beginning with stock vehicle chassis, we completely rework each vehicle,” Jeff Butler, a product manager with VMI, said. “What that means is we replace the floor, the suspension is modified and the seating is adjusted to accommodate a wheelchair.”
However, while the inside changes, the cars look just like any other from the outside.
“Every vehicle remains the same integrity and character it was originally designed with and the we personalize it for each customer’s specific needs.”
Butler said that they also aim to work with veterans.
“We are one of the only manufacturers in the country that has a veteran advocacy center,” he said. “We respect that they have a very specific need that we can meet, especially for those with disabilities.”
But for Butler, this also hits close to home. He said he’s not only an employee but a customer.
“There’s a really large population of people living with mobility impairments in the country,” Butler said. “I’m one of them, we have several on the team at VMI and it’s so important to have reliable access to transportation as a person with a disability and we really strive to meet that need for everyone who needs it.”
VMI is one of the largest suppliers of adaptive vehicles and employs hundreds of people in the Valley.