Whether your mobility scooter is Class 2 or Class 3, it gives you freedom. We won’t be the first to go so far as saying that access to these mobility vehicles gives users a genuinely new lease of life. However, while smaller Class 2 or 'boot' mobility scooters are relatively easily manoeuvred into a car and can go on public transport, the larger, road-going scooters are a different proposition. For more and more Class 3 scooter users - and some Class 2 users - maximising their mobility means pairing their scooter with a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) are cars or vans that have been professionally adapted to carry a wheelchair or powerchair, but they can also be used to transport a mobility scooter. Depending on specification, these converted vehicles mean a wheelchair user can travel in safety as a passenger or as the driver. The Motability Scheme currently has around 30,000 WAV customers, but many people choose to buy a brand new or second-hand WAV of their own.
The defining characteristics of WAVs are usually as follows:
In the UK wheelchairs and scooters are defined by the Department For Transport as either Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 'carriages'.
Class 1 refers to a 'carriage' that is not 'mechanically propelled'. This is the classification given to manual wheelchairs.
Class 2 'carriages' refers to powered wheelchairs and lighter mobility scooters (also known as lightweight or boot scooters). These Class 2 scooters and powerchairs should only be driven on pavements or in retail areas, have a top speed of 4 mph and fold down or can be dismantled, meaning they are easier to put into a car. Despite being lighter than Class 3 vehicles, they are usually still quite heavy to lift by hand.
Class 3 'carriages' are larger and heavier mobility scooters with a maximum speed of 8 mph. They can be driven on UK roads (as they are deemed to be roadworthy) and are fitted with wing mirrors and lights at the front and rear.
Choosing and buying a WAV is easiest when you only need to travel with a standard wheelchair. Things get more complicated with mobility scooters and powerchairs due to their added width, weight and thicker tyres. What’s more, they’re battery powered with extra ancillaries and accessories compared to wheelchairs. Because of this, larger mobility scooters often need a suitable adapted vehicle to accommodate their dimensions. Fortunately, many options are available.
At the time of writing, the following is an indicative – but not exhaustive – selection of makes and models that are mobility-scooter friendly. Typically, their size means you can also carry passengers with your mobility scooter on board.
Many of these WAVs are available brand new but because of their age, others are only available to buy second-hand. Given the requirements for WAVs, don’t be surprised that these vehicles are often van derived MPVs, such as the following:
These are all vehicles that, when converted into Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, will normally allow Class 2 boot scooters and heavier, road-going Class 3 mobility scooters to be ‘driven’ safely via the rear ramp into the adapted rear passenger compartment.
If you're unsure which vehicle would suit your particular mobility scooter, a local WAV supplier would be able to help by taking you through all the options and suggesting the most suitable WAV for your needs. Many WAV firms also offer home demonstrations.
To the best of our knowledge, the smallest WAV produced over the past decade or so that could carry a Mobility Scooter is the Fiat Qubo. On its website, Fiat describes the Qubo as, ‘the minivan with ultra-compact dimensions, original lines and incredible load capacity'.
It’s also possible to get a hoist fitted that can help lift a mobility device safely into a vehicle. One option is the Smart Lifter Boot Hoist range from Autochair. These professionally fitted hoists can lift a wheelchair, scooter or powerchair straight into the car boot. Others, such as the Trilift simply attach to the rear of cars, rather like a towbar bike carrier.
If a smaller, lightweight mobility scooter is right for you, perhaps sticking to a mid-sized MPV, estate car or SUV is the correct option. If not, maybe it's time to consider a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.
The good news is that, whether you choose a conventional fitted hoist or a fully adapted drive-on WAV, there’s a solution out there to solve your mobility requirements.
The beauty of having a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is that you can simply guide, drive or (using a powered winch) pull your scooter into the back of your vehicle rather than having to dismantle it (or use a fitted hoist). Depending on your vehicle and your preferences, you can either carefully guide the scooter into the WAV or stand beside/behind it as it climbs the tailgate ramp.
Whether it’s a Tourneo, Qubo or Berlingo, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do with your mobility scooter and WAV. It’s a versatile combination.
By combining the capabilities of your WAV and your Class 2 or Class 3 mobility scooter you will be able to go exactly where you want, when you want. And always with the reassuring confidence that loading and unloading will be safe, quick and straightforward.
And, of course, having a WAV (rather than an externally mounted scooter carrier) means your valuable mobility scooter is protected at all times inside the vehicle.
WavMob have been supplying quality used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles to customers up and down across the country for many years. We asked Louis Bye from WavMob for his top tips when it comes to pairing a WAV with a mobility scooter.
"Depending on the class or size of your mobility scooter we have found the Peugeot Expert and the Fiat Doblo to be great options. The Peugeot Expert is great for a larger family. We have found that choosing a 3 front and 2 rear seating configuration Peugeot Expert allows a larger scooter to fit comfortably in the rear of the vehicle.
"The Fiat Doblo is also a great partner for mobility scooter users. However, The Fiat Doblo is perhaps more suitable for a smaller family or a couple due to the seating configuration. The Doblo with a 2 seater configuration (2 front seats) allows the scooter to, again, fit comfortably into the rear."
The team at WavMob think that reversing in is the best way to load your mobility scooter into the rear of a wheelchair vehicle. In this video, they show us just how easy it is to transport a scooter (the ScooterPac Ignite) by reversing it up the vehicle ramp.
"This method allows you to remove the scooter from your vehicle much easier when you are ready to hit the streets" Louis says. "All you will need to do is either guide the scooter out facing forward or strap yourself in and drive forward down the ramp."
Whether your mobility scooter is a nimble Class 2 or a beefy, on-and-off-road Class 3, choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle to transport it could transform your mobility.