Today’s buzzword in the auto industry is mobility. It’s an oversimplified way of talking about the maker’s plans for ride-sharing, car-sharing and alternate forms of getting folks from one place to another.
Fiat Chrysler’s latest iteration of its Pacifica minivan reminds there’s been a “mobility” movement in place for some time and it was on display at the Chicago Auto Show.
FCA and BraunAbility are partnering to design a wheelchair-accessible Chrysler Pacifica minivan that gives wheelchair users a vehicle with better access, improved technology and styling — the benefits from the long-standing quality of the world’s best-known automotive mobility manufacturer while retaining the style and capability of one of the top minivans on the road.
“Whether it’s a veteran, a colleague, friend or a family member, there’s a good chance we all know someone with a physical disability who needs help getting to the places and events that matter most to them,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of Passenger Cars, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA North America.
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“The all-new Chrysler Pacifica is proving to be a lot of things to a lot of people, and now equipped with the BraunAbility technology, it is also the perfect tool to help our customers gain freedom to stay active in their everyday lives.”
The result is the most spacious wheelchair-accessible vehicle in the industry as well as the most functional courtesy of patent-pending AccessAbility technology. That technology includes an aerospace-inspired sliding door extension and the industry’s widest side-entry ramp, with rear-axle space innovations and cantilevered seat bases that expand interior cabin space, maximizing space for obstruction-free maneuverability for all sizes and types of wheelchairs.
To ensure it seamlessly integrated with the Pacifica, BraunAbility sourced its components through the same suppliers. It also put its vehicle through the same crash tests that regular vehicles endure to make sure they retained the same ratings.
“For over 45 years, BraunAbility and Chrysler have worked together to empower people with physical disabilities, including our founder Ralph Braun, to stay connected to what matters in their lives,” stated Nick Gutwein, president and CEO of BraunAbility.
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“The need for quality mobility solutions is only going to grow, and we are thrilled to align with Chrysler to launch the innovative and uncompromising BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica.”
The two companies took their partnership a step further. They are promoting the ‘Give a Dog a Job Program’ benefiting Canine Companions for Independence. Trained service dogs across the country are empowering wheelchair users daily by completing everyday activities, including getting in and out of their wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Hundreds are currently on the waitlist to receive a trained assistance dog, which is provided to a person with a disability free of charge and the Chicago debut showed how easily the dogs adapt to the modified minivan in their service duties.
That move isn’t surprising given the long history between Chrysler and Braun. The BraunAbility Pacifica is the latest in a long line of accessible vehicles engineered between the world leader in mobility and Chrysler.
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The partnership began more than 45 years ago when BraunAbility founder Ralph Braun, a wheelchair user himself, engineered a hydraulic wheelchair lift and installed it in a full-size Dodge van (a 1972 Dodge B series Ram Van), becoming the world’s first commercialized wheelchair-accessible vehicle.