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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