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VMI empowers consumers.

Vantage Mobility International (VMI) and the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) have released VMI's government safety-test results to mobility consumers. VMI's Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan vans comply with each of the required tests from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).


"Until now, there hasn't been a consolidated source where customers can compare the results of every manufacturers' safety scores for wheelchair-accessible vehicles," notes Doug Eaton, VMI president. "The NMEDA website now publishes that vehicle safety information, which is voluntarily provided by mobility vehicle manufacturers. VMI is proud to be among the first to publically release government safety standards for all our wheelchair vehicles. By working with NMEDA and being completely transparent with our safely standards, VMI is empowering mobility customers with critical safety information that will better help in the selection of their wheelchair-accessible vehicle."

Through NMEDA's Compliance Review Program, all important government regulatory safety standards and manufacturer compliance results are available online. NMEDA members are not required to submit data, and all data turned in is confidential.

In an effort to put the power of choice back into consumers' hands, VMI has actively integrated safety into each aspect of its manufacturing processes. As an advocate for safe and reliable products, the company is setting the highest standards of customer satisfaction.

During FMVSS testing, VMI received "pass" ratings on the Odyssey, Town & Country, and Grand Caravan, including:

* 50-mph rear impact collision, which tests floor structure and fuel-system integrity

* 33.5-mph side-impact collision, which tests side-impact protection and fuel-system integrity

* 35-mph frontal impact, which tests steering control rearward displacement, occupant crash protection, windshield mounting, and zone intrusion and fuel-system integrity (the 2011 Dodge/Chrysler van is being scheduled for this test)

* Pull Testing: Seating Systems and Seat Belt Assembly. Anchorages, including wheelchair

Safety First

"For years, VMI has been one of the few mobility companies to meet FMVSS safety standards," explains Jacques Bolduc, NMEDA's FMVSS Compliance Review Programs supervisor. "VMI's safety compliance program is built into the engineering of the vehicles to ensure they exceed safety requirements."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan with the highest score on the front and side Crash Test Rating. The Honda Odyssey also received the "Top Safety Pick" for 2009 in the minivan category. NHTSA rated all three minivans with a 5-star front/side "Crash Impact Test Rating," which is the highest in the industry.

"We believe the best decision is an informed decision," says Eaton, "which is why we're empowering our customers with a full disclosure of our safety records. We hope to motivate others in the market to be as conscientious about safety as our team is."

VMI's highly anticipated 2011 Honda Odyssey also underwent rigorous safety testing, including the newly instituted 50-mph rear collision test. The Honda Odyssey vehicle modification complies with FMVSS. Production of it began in March, with the VMI wheelchair conversion scheduled to be available to the public last month. It's 100% new, according to Eaton.

"The Odyssey is so popular because of Honda's reputation for consumer confidence and reliability," Eaton says. "We depended a lot on feedback from customers and our 200 dealers.

"VMI created a customer feedback loop," Eaton says. "We set the new design around customer expectations and spent extra time on testing."

VMI's 2011 Odyssey conversion offers more interior maneuvering room; the floor drop starts farther back in the vehicle. The ramp doesn't have as much flex as before (only 1[degrees]), and VMI engineers lowered the angle to 7.5[degrees], Eaton explains.

VMI also now offers the Fiorella platform lift, from an Italian firm.

"It's the first lift built from consumers' perspective," Eaton says. "The color is synched to the vehicle. It's a lightweight, single-post device designed for the emerging global van market: smaller boxy-style vehicles that are more fuel efficient and have greater headroom. The Ford Transit Connect is an example of a such a vehicle available now."

VMI dealers will install the Fiorella lifts.

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Title Annotation:on the move
Publication:PN - Paraplegia News
Date:May 1, 2011
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