A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) is a vehicle that has been specially adapted by a conversion company to allow disabled people to travel in safety and comfort while seated in their wheelchair as either a passenger or a driver. If you are a wheelchair user and you find that you are no longer able to transfer from your wheelchair to a standard car seat, or if your carer is unable to lift you into a vehicle, a WAV could be the right vehicle for you.
WAVs can be leased through the Motability Scheme or bought privately as a brand new or second hand vehicle via an accredited supplier or a second hand WAV specialist.
A WAV can be leased through Motability in a similar way to a standard car. The key difference between the Motability car scheme and the Motability WAV scheme is the term of the lease. When you lease a Motability WAV the term lasts for 5 years and you get a 100,000 mile allowance (instead of 3 years / 60,000 miles when you lease a car).
Every WAV leased through Motability comes with insurance for up to three drivers, full breakdown cover, annual road tax, tyre cover, windscreen replacement cover and servicing and maintenance at an authorised dealership for 5 years.
Leasing a WAV through Motability couldn't be easier. Simply agree to exchange your government-funded Mobility Allowance to order the WAV you want. The money goes straight from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to Motability every 4 weeks - all you’ll have to pay on top is an Advance Payment at the start of the lease agreement.
The Advance Payment for a WAV varies but it is generally high when compared to a standard Motability car because of the extra costs involved when converting the vehicle. You (or someone you care for) can apply for a WAV through Motability if you (or they) currently receive one of the following higher rate Mobility Allowances:
If you need a WAV to get around but think you may not be able to afford the Advance Payment, get in touch with the team at Motability who may be able to provide financial help through their Charitable Fund.
There are many different firms that convert and supply WAVs. Some cover the whole of the UK, with others only offering a regional service. Here are a few of the companies that convert and supply WAVs:
Get in touch with a WAV supplier near you to book a demonstration and a test drive in a WAV at your local dealer or at your home – there’s no cost involved and no obligation to order. The team will all be fully-trained and able to recommend a WAV to suit your individual circumstances.
Each firm will have its own way of converting a particular vehicle into a WAV, and you will be able to add or remove some of the features, options and adaptations when you place your order. Bear in mind, however, that any changes could increase the overall cost of the vehicle or, if you're ordering it through Motability, the Advance Payment due at the start of the lease. Once you have placed your order with the supplier, it’s likely to take between 12 and 16 weeks for them to complete the conversion and hand the vehicle over to you.
Although WAVs tend to be converted from Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) and commercial vehicles, they come in many different shapes and sizes. Compact WAVs are converted from mid-sized MPVs, like the Fiat Qubo or Kia Soul, and tend to have room for the wheelchair user, the driver and sometimes one or two passengers. Medium-sized WAVs are usually converted from a van-based car or a larger MPV, like the Vauxhall Combo Life, Volkswagen Caddy or the SEAT Alhambra. Larger WAVs are made from larger vehicles, like the Vauxhall Vivaro, Ford Tourneo or the Citroen Spacetourer, and are a good choice if you regularly need to transport lots of passengers and plenty of equipment.
Many different specialist firms convert MPVs and vans into WAVs, and there are 3 different types to consider:
Rear Passenger WAV
In a Rear Passenger WAV the wheelchair user enters the vehicle via a ramp (or sometimes a lift) located at the rear of the vehicle and the wheelchair user is then secured in the back. Most Rear Passenger WAVs are converted to have a lowered floor, creating more headroom for the occupants and lowering the angle of the ramp, making it easier to get into and out of the vehicle. The Rear Passenger WAV is the most popular type of WAV in the UK.
Ride Up Front WAV
If you choose a Ride Up Front WAV, the wheelchair user is able to sit upfront alongside the driver. When converted, the wheelchair user usually accesses the front passenger seat area of the vehicle via a ramp fitted to the rear of the vehicle, or via a ramp fitted to the front passenger door.
A Ride Up Front WAV is more popular amongst wheelchair users who would typically only travel with the driver.
Drive From Wheelchair WAV
Drive From Wheelchair WAVs are specially converted to allow the wheelchair user to drive the WAV from their wheelchair, using special adaptations. These vehicles can also be adapted so that the wheelchair user and a family member or carer can drive the vehicle.
These vehicles are far more complex and, as such, the delivery times and costs tend to be higher compared to a standard Motability car or WAV.
Not all wheelchair users drive a WAV. Many people are able to move from their wheelchair to a ‘standard’ car using something as simple as a transfer plate or adaptations like a swivel chair or hoist.
If you want a WAV as soon as possible, or you’re looking for a more affordable option, a nearly-new WAV is a cheaper and faster way to lease a WAV through the Motability Scheme.
The nearly new WAVs available through Motability are all under three years old, come with a lower Advance Payment and the same worry-free Motability package as standard. If you choose a nearly new WAV, the term of the lease is reduced to 3 years and the mileage allowance to 60,000 miles.
Motability’s all-inclusive 3 year / 60,000 mile car lease package includes:
Insurance cover for 3 named drivers is included.
The cost of servicing and maintaining your car is included.
Full breakdown cover provided by RAC Motability Assist is included.
Tyre and windscreen repair and replacement cover is included.
Motability will automatically tax the vehicle every year.
Many helpful adaptations are available at no extra cost.