Nis­san’s wheel­chair-friendly taxis a first

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT -

has be­come the first man­u­fac­turer in South Africa to of­fer wheelchair­friendly ve­hi­cles to the taxi in­dus­try in or­der to meet the grow­ing de­mand for safe, re­li­able trans­porta­tion for peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

The com­pany has de­vel­oped a full con­ver­sion of its pop­u­lar NV350 Im­pen­dulo, trans­form­ing the ve­hi­cle into a spa­cious car­rier suit­able for dis­abled pas­sen­gers in­clud­ing hy­draulic lift, rear­fac­ing seat­ing and alu­minium floor­ing which helps to keep wheel­chairs in po­si­tion.

The con­verted Im­pen­dulo, only re­leased in Au­gust, is at­tract­ing in­ter­est and en­quires from sev­eral sec­tors, in­clud­ing in the East­ern Cape where the ve­hi­cle has al­ready been de­ployed within re­gional health de­part­ments.

“There is a def­i­nite need for more public trans­port fa­cil­i­ties that cater for peo­ple liv­ing with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties,” says Wonga Me­satywa, di­rec­tor, cor­po­rate and gen­eral af­fairs at Nis­san Group of Africa.

With taxis trans­port­ing ap­prox­i­mately 15 mil­lion com­muters daily, ac­cord­ing to the South African Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco), and ap­prox­i­mately 7,5% of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion re­garded as hav­ing a dis­abil­ity, many dis­abled peo­ple re­main un­able to ac­cess this vi­tal mode of trans­port. They are there­fore ex­cluded from gain­ing mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment or ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the econ­omy. sen­ger sec­tion of the ve­hi­cle also keeps wheel­chairs safely in place while it is in use. The con­ver­sion makes max­i­mum use of the avail­able space within the ve­hi­cle. One of the most use­ful mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the ve­hi­cle is the hy­draulic lift that al­lows peo­ple in wheel­chairs to have easy ac­cess through the rear door. The fact that Orig­i­nal Equip­ment Man­u­fac­tur­ers (OEMs) mass rat­ings on the Im­pen­dulo are class lead­ing, makes it an ideal plat­form for this type of con­ver­sion be­cause it min­imises the chances of over­load­ing.

This is a key dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor for the Im­pen­dulo com­pared to sim­i­lar veNISSAN hi­cles on the mar­ket.

The con­verted ve­hi­cle has achieved ho­molo­ga­tion, mean­ing it meets reg­u­la­tory stan­dards and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, such as safety and tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing safe trans­port for phys­i­cally dis­abled mem­bers of so­ci­ety, the con­ver­sion is also ideal for a va­ri­ety of ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing ho­tel fleets, in­ter-hos­pi­tal trans­porta­tion and frail care.

“The con­ver­sion was only re­leased last month but it has al­ready been well re­ceived and we have re­ceived mul­ti­ple en­quiries about the mod­i­fi­ca­tions made to the ve­hi­cle,” says Me­satywa. — WR.

PHOTO: MOTORPRESS

In the con­verted Nis­san Im­pen­dulo minibus, the seats fold away and a ramp lifts wheel­chair users into the space.

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