The angular high roof combinations are popular with families or recreational athletes. There is plenty of space and the cost of purchasing and maintaining the vehicle is comparatively moderate. But people with reduced mobility, for example who need a wheelchair, appreciate the advantages of the compact transport miracle.
This vehicle type also includes the Fiat Doblo (from 17.600 Euro), who has just received an extensive facelift. "The Doblo is very suitable for taking wheelchair users with you," says Norbert Wiederschein, head of the Fiat Autonomy program. "It offers enough space and, thanks to the low loading edge and the Bi-Link rear axle, it can be adapted relatively easily and inexpensively for getting in and out of wheelchairs." In the "taxi" version, the wheelchair user is in the rear, in the "family" version, the wheelchair user is placed in the modified rear seat row.
For the taxi variant, the conversion partners, such as the Italian specialist Focaccia, use the long version of the high roof combination with five seats. The advantage of this configuration: The seats in the first and second rows can be used without restriction. The Doblo can be used as a normal taxi. However, if there are trips with wheelchair users, there is enough space in the trunk to take a wheelchair user with them. Access to the trunk is via a foldable and foldable aluminum ramp. This carries up to 300 kilograms. The high resilience allows even heavier electric wheelchairs to be safely brought on board. The wheelchair user and his wheelchair are pulled into the vehicle using a winch. Anchors embedded in the floor of the vehicle ensure safety while driving, with which the wheelchair is secured using a seat belt.
The Doblo with a short wheelbase is used for the family version. The rear seat with three seats is replaced by two individual seats on the right and left. The space in the middle remains free for the wheelchair user. If more space is needed for a wheelchair, only a single seat can be installed. Wheelchair users who rely on permanent support can be easily looked after with such a seat configuration. As with the taxi variant, access is via a ramp, and the wheelchair is also secured by the anchoring system with a seat belt.
Such a wheelchair-compatible conversion costs between 6.000 and 7.000 euros. An electric winch, LED lighting, shelves or chrome handles are available at an additional cost. In addition to security, an appealing ambience is important to Norbert Wiederschein. "We attach great importance to the fact that the conversions also make a good visual impression." The materials used must fit together, everything must be processed cleanly. The wheelchair user should feel comfortable while driving. High-roof combinations with their large tailgates offer yet another advantage: Since the rear openings swing far up, even long-standing helpers don't bump their heads.
As part of its autonomy program, which has been in existence since 1995, Fiat offers handicapped-friendly modifications to its vehicle fleet, from the Fiat 500 compact car to the Ducato transporter. The offer ranges from mechanical driving aids to complex conversions. The target groups are on the one hand people with reduced mobility who drive themselves, but also people with reduced mobility who are carried in the vehicle. Fiat-Autonomy carries out small specifications ex works, such as the steering wheel knob or hand throttle system. Larger measures such as adjustments for wheelchair users are carried out by qualified and certified retrofitters. Other manufacturers such as Ford, Mazda, Renault or Toyota cooperate closely with the conversion companies, but do not maintain their own advisory centers.
Author: Elfriede Munsch / SP-X