New van marks 45 years after first Dodge wheelchair-accessible van was launched.

Chrysler’s Pacifica minivan is taking on a new role as a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. The new model, built in partnership with BraunAbility, is specifically designed to be what Chrysler claims is the most spacious wheelchair van available.

Compared to a regular Chrysler Pacifica, the BraunAbility model sits higher so it can accommodate a slide-out ramp that extends from the passenger-side sliding door. Extended front and rear fascias, as well as new rocker panels, disguise the extra height. The “AccessAbility” technology provides a flat floor inside the van, with the seat bases cantilevered the create more floor space and make it easier to maneuver wheelchairs in and out of the van.

Because BraunAbility and Chrysler worked on the van collaboratively, it was subjected to the same durability and crash tests as any other vehicle, ensuring safety. Chrysler says the door opening is the widest of any wheelchair-accessible van, again helping make it easier for users to get in and out of the vehicle.

BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica
BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica

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To help owners who need the accessible van, Chrysler will offer up to $1,000 to offset the cost for drivers with physical disabilities. The automaker is also partnering with Canine Companions for Independence, which helps train and provide service dogs to help wheelchair users with everyday tasks, including getting in and out of accessible vehicles.

“The all-new Chrysler Pacifica is proving to be a lot of things to a lot of people, and now equipped with the BraunAbility technology, it is also the perfect tool to help our customers gain freedom to stay active in their everyday lives,” Tim Kuniskis, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles head of passenger cars, said in a statement.

Chrysler vehicles have a long history with BraunAbility. Forty-five years ago, BraunAbility founder Ralph Braun designed a hydraulic wheelchair ramp for a 1972 Dodge van; it was the first commercially produced wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

 

Source: Chrysler
Live photos: Nathan Leach-Proffer / Motor1.com

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Chrysler Pacifica BraunAbility: Chicago 2017

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Chrysler Brand, the Leader in Minivans, Partners With World Mobility Leader BraunAbility to Unveil Game-changing Wheelchair-accessible Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler, BraunAbility Join to Support ‘Give a Dog a Job Program’ Benefiting Canine Companions for Independence

  • Chrysler brand partners with BraunAbility, world leader in automotive mobility, to introduce a wheelchair-accessible 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, the 2017 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year
  • The BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica features patent-pending AccessAbility™ technology, effectively creating the largest interior space, as well as the widest door opening and side-entry ramp in the industry. These engineering breakthroughs ensure superior maneuverability and improved ease of entry and exit for wheelchair users
  • To further mark the importance of mobility independence, Chrysler Pacifica and BraunAbility have partnered with Canine Companions for Independence, the largest nonprofit provider of assistance dogs in the United States
  • Empowered by the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica and a Canine Companions service dog, many Americans with physical disabilities are able to stay connected to the people and places that matter most to them
  • Chrysler brand was the first OEM to support the automotive mobility industry and the first in the industry to help ease the financial burden of drivers with physical challenges, offering up to $1,000 cash reimbursement for expenses related to adaptive equipment; BraunAbility pioneered the mobility industry more than 45 years ago with a wheelchair lift installed on a full-size Dodge van

February 9, 2017 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler brand and BraunAbility are joining forces to design a wheelchair-accessible Chrysler Pacifica minivan that gives wheelchair users the quality of the world’s leading automotive mobility manufacturer with the functionality and bold styling of the industry’s most awarded minivan of the year. The new upfitted Chrysler Pacifica will make its world debut at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday, February 9.

“Whether it’s a veteran, a colleague, friend or a family member, there’s a good chance we all know someone with a physical disability who needs help getting to the places and events that matter most to them,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America. “The all-new Chrysler Pacifica is proving to be a lot of things to a lot of people, and now equipped with the BraunAbility technology, it is also the perfect tool to help our customers gain freedom to stay active in their everyday lives.”

The most spacious wheelchair-accessible vehicle in the industry, the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica features patent-pending AccessAbility™ technology, including an aerospace-inspired sliding door extension and the industry’s widest side-entry ramp, with rear-axle space innovations and cantilevered seat bases that expand interior cabin space, maximizing space for obstruction-free maneuverability for all sizes and types of wheelchairs. BraunAbility seamlessly integrates with the sophisticated styling of the Chrysler Pacifica. To ensure Chrysler integrity and quality, BraunAbility sources its components through the same suppliers, and crash-tests to the highest automotive standards.

“For over 45 years, BraunAbility and Chrysler have worked together to empower people with physical disabilities, including our founder Ralph Braun, to stay connected to what matters in their lives,” stated Nick Gutwein, President and CEO of BraunAbility. “The need for quality mobility solutions is only going to grow, and we are thrilled to align with Chrysler to launch the innovative and uncompromising BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica."

The partnership between Chrysler and BraunAbility includes co-promotion support for the ‘Give a Dog a Job Program’ benefiting Canine Companions for Independence. Trained service dogs across the country are empowering wheelchair users daily by completing everyday activities, including getting in and out of their wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Hundreds are currently on the waitlist to receive a trained assistance dog, which is provided to a person with a disability free of charge.

“BraunAbility and Chrysler Pacifica are a natural fit as a partner for Canine Companions for Independence,” says Canine Companions CEO Paul Mundell. “Canine Companions was the first and now largest provider of assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities. The synergy between adapted vehicles like the BraunAbility Pacifica and the intelligence and life-changing skills of a Canine Companions assistance dog are seamlessly giving independence — and giving a dog a job. Seeing a Canine Companions assistance dog working with their partner in and around an adapted vehicle is a testament to the adaptability of our assistance dogs and their ability to enhance independence for a person with a disability.”

The BraunAbility Pacifica is the latest in a long line of accessible vehicles engineered between the world leader in mobility and Chrysler. The partnership began more than 45 years ago when BraunAbility founder Ralph Braun, a wheelchair user himself, engineered a hydraulic wheelchair lift and installed it in a full-size Dodge van (a 1972 Dodge B series Ram Van), becoming the world’s first commercialized wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

The most awarded minivan of 2016 and 2017, the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica reinvents the minivan segment with an unprecedented level of functionality, versatility, technology and bold styling.