The 25th annual mobility roadshow was held at Stoneleigh Park in Coventry in the month of June.
Johan Cillié realises and understands the importance to be as independent as possible. Therefore he went over to Coventry to peruse the latest and most up to date products that are available.
"What awaited us, in our wildest dreams was not imaginable!"
To say the UK is light-years ahead of South Africa in terms of treating people with physical disabilities and handicaps is putting it mildly, from the WAV's (wheelchair accessible vehicles), to the Motability Scheme, where people with disabilities are helped to lease an adapted car at subsidised rates; never mind the drive from wheelchair vehicles.
Driving from your wheelchair is becoming the norm rather than the exception. The need for fuel-efficient smaller vehicles that can be driven from the wheelchair shifted the emphasis from lifts to lowered platforms.
The most popular of these vehicles were the Renault Kangoo, unfortunately the current model has reached the end of life and the new one will not come in automatic making it unsuitable for this type of conversions. It seems that the new star on the horizon that is going to be considered is the Volkswagen Caddy.
These vehicles cost more than double the price of a normal car. The Kangoo had cost £28 500 . When the benefits are looked at, it was concluded that the high costs were justified.
An option for South Africans will be to import used vehicles that come off the motability scheme, so long as they have been properly maintained with service history.
It is exceptionally important to be aware that the conversion has been done by a recognized and competent company, as inferior quality workmanship could lead to defects that may be very dangerous and create life threatening situations. So do your homework to avoid being caught out.
But more about the show
It was visited by tens of thousands of people, and I'm sure enjoyed by everybody.
The latest model on display in the WAV category was the WAV EVO, a Kia Sedona with wheelchair access to the front passenger seat via the door! A revolutionary concept patented by Aspect conversions and Sirus automotive. This conversion is unique because the wheelchair gets access to the front without sacrificing any seat or boot space.
Another star on the show was the Martin Conquest a wheelchair accessible motorbike, or more appropriately a motortrike.
From wheelchairs and stair climbers to detachable power front wheels that transform your manual wheelchair into a power bike with a Harley Davidson like feel; it was all there.
Caravans especially adapted to allow wheelchair access, to wheelchair storage on a roof rack that was designed using an electric lift to stow the chair away, or caravans that are purpose built for wheelchair acess, in fact there are too many products to list them all here.
For the driver, the "cockpit" has all the normal hand controls as well as the secondary controls for indicators lights wipers etc, an indication of the development is that up to eighteen secondary controls can now be accommodated in one control unit.
The big challenge in modern cars with secondary controls is the Can-Buss system used in most. To tie into this system with a secondary computer to activate the controls is a job best left to the experts.
This is what Johan and Sonja Cillié saw, see for yourself the technology gap between UK and SA