Get in and drive: tailor-made solutions for people with restricted mobility
- Driving aids for the V-Class and Citan available ex factory for the first time
- Safe and convenient steering, acceleration and braking
- Conversions and body solutions made to measure by Mercedes-Benz VanSolution and VanPartner by Mercedes-Benz
Tailor-made solutions for even more (auto)mobility: from early 2016 Mercedes-Benz Vans will be offering a comprehensive package of driving and mobility aids for people with physical handicaps and age-related restrictions for the V-Class and Citan ex factory. The vehicles and equipment come from the same source. The systems are centrally installed at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen, and naturally the full factory warranty applies to all conversions. The new driving and mobility aids are currently celebrating their debut at the “TecForum Clever Bodybuilder Solutions” in Hamburg. There Mercedes-Benz Vans is presenting more than 40 highly specialised body and conversion solutions based on the V-Class, Citan, Vito and Sprinter.
Comfortable operation of the steering, accelerator and brake pedal
Older customers with movement restrictions will find intelligent solutions to maintain their mobility and independence at Mercedes-Benz Vans. One central aspect is the convenient operation of the steering, accelerator and brake pedal: a rotating knob on the left or right side of the steering wheel allows driving with only one hand. Another option: on request the combination switch and cruise control stalk can also be operated from the right-hand side of the steering wheel, by means of additional levers. A hand control unit enables accelerating and braking by hand. With the “Classic” model, turning the knob accelerates the vehicle, while a gentle push forward applies the brakes. With the “Easy Speed” hand control unit, the same effect is obtained by pulling and pushing the lever. The conventional accelerator and brake pedals still remain usable. An optional pedal cover can be fitted to prevent unintentional operation of the pedals, however.
The V-Class is optionally available with the “MFD Touch” multifunction knob. This is fitted to the left or right-hand side of the steering wheel and serves as a radio remote control for low beam, high beam, indicators, horn and windscreen wipers. All these functions can be performed without the driver having to let go of the steering wheel. All in all, the choice of driving and mobility aids is as individual as the requirements of customers.
Klaus Maier, Head of Marketing and Sales at Mercedes-Benz Vans: “We want everybody to be able to benefit from the safety, comfort and technology of a Mercedes-Benz. With our tailor-made driving and mobility aids for the V-Class and the Citan, we offer full mobility and maximum possible independence to people with physical disabilities. Thanks to their spacious interiors, our vans are also perfect for wheelchair conversions.”
Intelligent mobility solutions available ex factory for particularly tall or short drivers
Optional pedal extensions are available as a safe and comfortable solution for drivers of smaller stature. These reduce the distance to the pedals between five and ten centimetres, according to individual needs. Particularly tall drivers benefit from the option of relocating the seat 50 mm to the rear. The height of the driver’s seat can additionally be raised by 25 mm in the Citan.
These driving and mobility aids are available ex factory as part of Mercedes-Benz VanSolution, but can also be retrofitted if required. In addition, the conversions meet the high Mercedes-Benz standards relating to safety and quality.
Individual conversions as dual-invoice transactions via VanPartner Paravan
More extensive modifications are carried out by the specialist company Paravan from Pfronstetten-Aichelau in the Reutlingen district. Paravan works in close cooperation with Mercedes-Benz Vans via the VanPartner programme. Since October 2015 the V-Class with Paravan conversions has been available with a certificate of conformity issued by Mercedes-Benz. A cassette lift provides wheelchair users with unimpeded access to the driver’s or co-driver’s seat, where a so called docking station can be installed to fix an electronic wheelchair in place. In addition, Paravan offers the drive-by-wire system “Space Drive II” as a driving aid which enables people with restricted mobility to drive a vehicle even if their strength level is very low and movement capacity is minimal. With “Space Drive II” the steering, accelerator and brake pedal are operated safely and precisely by microprocessor-controlled driving aids.
Mercedes-Benz VanSolution offers sector-specific solutions as single-invoice transactions
Bodies and conversions are traditionally considered to be very important at Mercedes-Benz Vans – though the range goes well beyond driving and mobility aids.
Klaus Maier: “We want every buyer of our vans to receive the functionally and economically best solution for his or her individual requirements. That is why the V-Class, Citan, Vito, and Sprinter are available in a wide range of variants. Individual transport tasks often call for equally individual solutions, however. This is why specialised converters and bodybuilders are involved in the development of new system solutions at an early stage.”
Around 50 percent of all newly registered Sprinter around the world receive a body or interior fitting from a specialist. The conversion rate for the Vito is around 25 percent, and for the Citan around 20 percent. Particularly popular conversions and body solutions are available via the Mercedes-Benz VanSolution programme. These VanSolution products are included in Mercedes-Benz’s price lists and are marketed, financed and sold by way of single-invoice transactions. As complete vehicles from a single supplier, they are also treated as genuine Mercedes-Benz products with regard to maintenance, service, guarantee and warranty.
For the purposes of VanSolution, Mercedes-Benz Vans collaborates exclusively with carefully selected and leading partners in the respective sectors. This cooperation spawns specialised trade solutions for the Vito, refrigerated vehicles based on the Vito and Sprinter, box-type bodies for dry freight, tippers and platforms as well as liftgates for panel vans based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
VanPartner by Mercedes-Benz informs customers about the wide choice of partner companies
Customers are able to find their special-purpose vehicle on the publicly accessible international information platform www.vanpartner.com. This portal provides an overview of some 350 product solutions from almost 235 partner companies, and enables direct contact to the individual suppliers. Information is available in eleven languages, and search criteria such as body type, vehicle category, sector and country facilitate selection.
The companies featured on the website as a VanPartner by Mercedes-Benz have achieved a special status. Mercedes-Benz Vans recommends these partners for dual-invoice transactions. Dual invoice means that the Mercedes-Benz van and its body or conversion solution are ordered and invoiced separately. With regard to service, guarantee and warranty, each manufacturer is responsible for their respective scope of delivery.
The VanPartner certification is preceded by a qualification process: the Bodybuilder Centre checks and assesses the quality of the bodybuilders/converters including their level of sales and service. All bodies and conversions are produced in accordance with the Mercedes-Benz mounting directives or come with a certificate of endorsement.