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Shame on You!


peedee

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It is to the European motorhome industry that I refer! Why cannot they be like >Winnebago Ability Equipped< who have wheelchair layouts for no less than 7 "A" class, 3 "C" class and a campervan ! They are not all big jobbies either, the "View" is on a Mercedes diesel powered chassis with good payload and is under 25 foot in length. If asked, I bet they would also do a layout for the "Via" which is also on a Mercedes diesel powered chassis and is under 26ft. >Dudleys< is the UK agent.

 

peedee

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Peedee

You do see the odd one or two specially adapted (normally coachbuilt) motorhomes in the shows (e.g Benimar Eurable), but I agree they are few and far between in the UK (and normally quite costly comapared to the "conventional" layouts). This is understandable given the extra work involved and low volume sales.

In many cases (well mine anyway) the basic requirements are a wide entry door and enough floor space to manoeuvre a wheelchair. In the past I have found Autotrail fairly helpful (they used to - do they still? - offer a wider caravan door and ramp access). Also Mobilvetta who happily fitted a wider door from another range on our Euroyacht. The manufacturer may also be prepared to alter the layout or leave out some items (in our case a single rear passenger seat). Then its down to the suppler to cope with additional requirements (wheelchair securing webbing and seatbelts, hoists etc). They are normally quite helpful, but it comes at a cost (even allowing for the possible zero VAT rating).

In recent years we have gone for panel van conversions - the wide sliding door and the availability of standard ramps and lifts makes life much simpler. Unfortunately most major van converters like to block off half of the door opening with furniture which rather defeats the benefit of the wide door.

There are several UK van converters who will adapt their normal layouts quite willingly. In our current van the kitchen unit is shorter to give unimpeded access and space for the wheelchair, together with a slightly narrower bench seat for easier wheelchir manoeuvering and storage. All at no additional cost as they manufacture the furniture themselves.

 

The recent Mobility supplement listed manufacturers/suppliers willing to take on the necessary modifications.

 

 

Clive

 

Edit

Just had a look at the Winnebago. Very nice - so much space - but a little large for me and the UK roads? Although my Mobilvetta Euroyacht (A Class) was probably the best conversion I have owned it was sometimes impossible to park in town centres so made wheelchair access impossible.

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Agreed smaller vans offer advantages of a wide door and lifts and there are also more converters willing to adapt these vehicles, but they would not suit our style of travel and living where we are often away for quite long periods. Even so nobody in Europe publishes layouts/options for wheelchair users. I don't think it is beyond the major suppliers to at least offer one quality model in their range which can be adapted. I could give you quite a long list of excuses I have had over the years as to why it cannot be done but the Yanks seem to have no problem. Those suitable European models I have seen generally have had poor payloads and have not been of impressive quality.

 

I have always baulked at buying "American" but with the introduction of smaller models on a European chassis, its time for a rethink.

 

peedee

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I would imagine that one of the problems is payload, in the USA they have a much larger vehicle with a massive payload, so any extras that are added such as the lifts etc aren't a problem. Simiarly, as they are much lager vehicles they have the space to be able to adapt them more easily. I'm also guessing that the way the structure is built lends itself to being able to be altered much easier. Not making excuses, but I can see some of the possible reasons.
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There is a van made by Autostar (part of the Trigano group) in France, under the brand name Mobil'Star.  Ford Transit based, twin rear wheel chassis, with access via a wide, top hinged rear door that rises on gas struts.  It is, or can be, equipped with a wheelchair lift at this entrance.  There is a allied range, under the brand name Oxygen, that has a large full height rear garage, similarly accessed, that I think is the base that is adapted into the Mobil'Star, that seems to be made for adaptation for a variety of uses, so might cater for alternative mobility handicaps.

Presumably, the number of severely handicapped people who could/would take advantage of motorhoming is a fairly small percentage of motorhomers overall.  Applying that percentage (assuming it is much the same both sides of the pond), to the US will yield a far larger potential market than might be accessed by an individual European producer.  The difference between the two sides of the water being that the US is, more or less, a single market, speaking a single language.  Europe, on the other hand, is a series of much smaller markets, speaking various languages.  The economics of production therefore, very much favour a US producer, who can probably justify the development costs against a relatively small group of potential customers, that will still be far larger in number than any individual EU manufacturer might hope to reach.

That Trigano has begun to serve this market may just unlock a pent up demand that, if sufficient, may encourage others to join in.

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Brian,

May I correct you on some of your terminology? The word 'handicapped' can be quite insulting to people with disabilities. It implies 'beegging'for alms i.e. 'cap in hand'. It is preferred to use the word disabled and it derivatives. It has taken long enough for MMM to refrain from using it in their mobility supplement

As for motorhomes in use by disabled people,it may be people who are motorhomers who have become disabled in later life and wish to continue. However I did advise someone who had a severely disabled daughter to consider a MURVI as the family vehicle, as this would give them all the facilities for days out. Mainly because their daughter had various problems including body temperature control. Murvi were the only people who could produce a vehicle at the time with aircon.

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Well, Will, you made me look.  Very interesting.  The derivation I found cites "hand in cap", a C15 betting game, rather than "cap in hand" as you had found.  It seems the word was thereafter mainly used in connection with horse racing, and was only somewhat dubiously applied to disability after 1915.  I certainly didn't know that, so thanks for the correction.  Disabled it is, from now on, and my apologies to anyone who was offended.
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Brian Kirby - 2009-11-08 5:54 PM

Presumably, the number of severely handicapped people who could/would take advantage of motorhoming is a fairly small percentage of motorhomers overall.  Applying that percentage (assuming it is much the same both sides of the pond), to the US will yield a far larger potential market than might be accessed by an individual European producer.  The difference between the two sides of the water being that the US is, more or less, a single market, speaking a single language.  Europe, on the other hand, is a series of much smaller markets, speaking various languages.  The economics of production therefore, very much favour a US producer, who can probably justify the development costs against a relatively small group of potential customers, that will still be far larger in number than any individual EU manufacturer might hope to reach.

I think if you look at the severely disable you are probably right about it being a small market but taking all disabilities into account it is quite large. I have even had large gentlemen, who struggle to use standard doorways ask, "Where did you get your wide door from!"I cannot agree about the other differences between the countries on either side of the the pond. What about the EEC! (Common Market) True there are differences in languages but I cannot see why that should be a barrier and certain manufacturers' motorhomes are sold Europe wide. I have never been to the States so have no real idea of the popularity of motorhomes there but if popularity is anything to go by, I have a sneaky suspicion Europe could have the bigger market.peedee
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Yeti

 

I have compiled and edited the Mobility Supplement since 1995 and as far as I am aware, I have never used the word 'handicapped'. If it has been used then it was by the disabled contributor themselves. I have been helping folk with special needs both professionally and in a voluntary capacity since 1972 so I'm well aware of the sensitivity around the terminology. Further, during my tenure at the helm of the Mobility Supplement I have conducted two investigations into the shorthand by which those with mobility problems wish to be called. Overwhelmingly the response has been in favour of 'disabled'.

 

It is mischevious to suggest that 'it has taken long enough for MMM to refrain from using it in their mobility supplement'

 

I'm hope that you didn't mean it to sound the way it did, but to suggest insensitivity by the Editorial team is just plain wrong, as is the suggestion that we had to be made to refrain from using any particular term.

 

Jonathan Lloyd

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Peter

 

Talk to converters Horizons Unlimited, in Tamworth, or their dealers, Roy Wood Transits near Reading.

They have experience of everything from fitting an extra handle or step (which was all we needed), right up to fully wheelchair-accessible van conversions.

 

http://www.horizons-unlimited.co.uk/

http://www.roywoodtransits.co.uk/

 

(Usual disclaimer - I'm just a very satisfied customer.)

 

Hope you find what you're looking for!

 

Tony

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THank you Mr Lloyd far from being mischievious I was correcting an overdue error. Only the last edition of the supplement used the correct terminology.

When the supplement was first published the word did appear quite liberally and I wrote to the then editor-nothing heard. I am glad to see it is now being corrected.

Just for the record I do find it very useful in my professional capacity working with groups that support people with disabilities.

Please accept my apologies for rather strong terms.

It was not my intention to offend,but thanks for the reply.

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peedee - 2009-11-09 2:11 PM ........... I cannot agree about the other differences between the countries on either side of the the pond. What about the EEC! (Common Market) True there are differences in languages but I cannot see why that should be a barrier and certain manufacturers' motorhomes are sold Europe wide. .......... peedee

Just a personal view, and I'm sure you are right about the potential.  What I was trying to get at with the European producers is that (understandably) in each country, they tend to favour what their home market favours. 

Thus the French go for the low profiles, the Italians the multi bedded, multi seat Luton versions, the Germans their large A classes, and the Brits loads of lounge space with convertible beds.

What sells across borders seems mainly to be either purpose made to garner market share, or is what appeals to those elsewhere who share the home market bias.  In this mode there is, really, no one European motorhome market as such, but a series of markets with some overlapping of appeal at the fringes.  For example, we prefer a typically French layout, and it just happens that a German company made a van in that mould. 

I'm not trying to excuse the result, just giving my slant on why it may be as it is.  With a market that responds to small cultural differences between states, allowing for the language differences, I think it is difficult to see who may be the big producer who will take on the risk of trying to develop a "European" van for the disabled.  However, if anyone might do so, Trigano is surely a company of the right kind of size to do so.  The Hymer group would appear to be another, and possibly SEA.  Lets hope it proves so.

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Brian,

Ok so each culture has a preference. In the case of the disabled I think you will find at this moment in time they cannot afford to be too fussy and are grateful for anything that allows them the freedom a motorhome gives. Of course the less they have to compromises the better.

 

A purpose built model would obviously be a big gamble. SEA did make one but I think it was not a huge success and I don't think they do it anymore but I stand to be corrected. Benimar with their Eurable also had a go. The point I am making is the Americans are not purpose building one for the disabled but are offering standard models which they can tweek/alter with minimum effort. Surely it is not beyond major European manufacturers to do the same.

 

peedee

 

 

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Unfirtunately when it comes to disability and aids to living,one size does not fit all. Generally a conversion may have to be bespoke.

The best we could hope for is a vehicle which can be adpted easily maybe with modular furniture that is easy to remove. Perhaps the most expensive mods may be the widening if the door and fitting of a lift.

One fitted internally will take uo soace inside and an uderslung lift may entails moving of water tanks etc.

Panel van should be the easiest as the majority of mainstream accessible vehicles are based on these.

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