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I attended the 2015 Go further With Ford Conference as a guest of Ford. I have not received any compensation for this post. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own.
You might recall that I attended the 2015 Ford Go Further Conference a few weeks ago. The tip was great and I learned a lot. One of the key points of the conference was mobility. Ford is working hard to develop transportation for everyone. Some might be surprised to discover that I am not referring to just traditional transportation.Ford is working hard to develop things like peer-to-peer car sharing, autonomous vehicles, and even bicycles!
Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor Company, touched upon just some of these alternative modes of transportation currently under development in his Go Further With Ford keynote presentation.
At the end of the conference we had a mini drive event, where we paired up and took a new Ford model out onto the streets of San Francisco in order to check out some of the latest features in connectivity, mobility and performance. One of the vehicles I’d hoped to drive is the new Explorer. I currently own two Explorers, one being an older four-door model and one being an older two-door sport model. I haven’t been in the Explorer since they redesigned it to look sleek and sporty. I am hopeful that I’ll have an opportunity to test drive one of the new models soon, and share my thoughts with you. In the meantime, I’d like to share this very exciting news.
This week BraunAbility, the world leader in wheelchair-accessible vehicle production, announced that it is moving forward with the BraunAbility MXV™, their first-ever wheelchair accessible SUV. The vehicle is based on the Ford Explorer, the best-selling SUV in the U.S. for the last 25 years.
“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.”
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.
Wheelchair users will be able to drive the BraunAbility MXV from a wheelchair, or ride as a passenger. The vehicle 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. 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. The vehicle is transfer seat capable, and includes an integrated key fob that operates both door and ramp, as well as a sliding shifter for increased space.
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.”
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.
We know a good number of people who use wheelchairs. I think it’s wonderful that there will be a vehicle on the market soon that helps enable wheelchair users to “go further”, and that there will finally be an alternative to the minivan.