Accessible Van Manufacturer vs. Dealer: Who Should You Buy From?

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When looking for options for buying wheelchair accessible vans for your organization, you’ll likely come across companies that do one of two things. They’ll likely either:

  • Design, manufacture and sell accessible vans (accessible van manufacturer), or
  • Resell other manufacturers’ accessible vans (a dealer)

An accessible van manufacturer and a dealer will give you a different experience, so it’s important to know who you should work with to ensure you get the right vans for your needs.

After all, a new accessible van can redefine the way your program operations. It directly affects the people you transport.

MoveMobility is an accessible van manufacturer, however our vans aren’t right for every organization. That’s why we outline below the pros and cos of working directly with an accessible van manufacturer versus a dealer, so you can make the best buying decision.

Benefits and Drawbacks of buying from an Accessible Van Manufacturer

Sometimes referred to as buying “factory direct”, buying from an accessible van manufacturer means you work with the company who designs, builds, and sells wheelchair accessible vans. There are no “middle men”. Examples of accessible van manufacturers are Malley Industries, Creative Carriage, and MoveMobility.

We’ve shown the key aspects of working with an accessible van manufacturer in the table below. Further explanation of each point follows, so that you can be fully educated about your choices.

Accessible Van Manufacturer – Benefits Accessible Van Manufacturer – Drawbacks
Thorough needs analysis Potentially longer lead times
Mobility and automotive knowledge Less “try before you buy” options
One package: van and conversion  
No extra “dealer markup” or hidden fees  
Custom van designs  
MoveMobility van conversion build process

Benefits of buying from Accessible Van Manufacturer

Thorough needs analysis

Accessible van manufacturers design, build, and manufacture your accessible vans. They will take time to understand your organization’s specific needs and make appropriate recommendations. As a manufacturer, MoveMobility is more interested in the success of your transportation program than we are making a sale.

Identifying specific mobility van needs could mean helping you determine whether a lift or ramp conversion is best for your program. It might even mean recommending a van that we don’t provide, and we’re okay with that.

Accessible vans are capital investments, so as buyer, you need to make informed decisions.

Mobility and automotive industry knowledge

There are many regulations, standards, and qualifications required to become a trusted wheelchair van provider. When you work with an industry-leading wheelchair van manufacturer, you are guaranteed a knowledgeable, experienced mobility expert who can guide you through the process.

Transporting persons with disabilities requires an understanding of what modifications can and can’t be done to a van. If this is overlooked, legal liabilities can be serious. Your wheelchair van supplier must understand CMVSS code (regulation that governs the transportation sector in Canada).

One package: van and conversion

We are often asked, “do we have to buy a van and bring it to you for the conversion?”. Thankfully, the answer is no.

Accessible van manufacturers keep a stock of vans ready for conversion. This eliminates the need for you, the busy-enough buyer, to:

  1. Negotiate with a dealer to buy a van, running the risk of buying a van that isn’t compatible with accessible conversions
  2. Find a conversion company to convert the van, hoping you get what you need
  3. Arrange transportation to the conversion manufacturer’s facility, often costly

Doesn’t consolidating those 3 steps into one sound simpler? Overall, there are many risks involved in buying a non-accessible van with the intention of somehow “making it accessible”. That is why accessible van manufacturers exist – to eliminate the headaches we just mentioned.

No extra “dealer markup” or hidden fees

While we can’t speak for other wheelchair van manufacturers, all documents relating to the sale of our accessible vans is clear and transparent. This includes Quotations and Sales Agreements, which outline the agreement between you, the buyer, and us, the supplier.

Dealers may add extra fees to increase a sale value. If you appreciate transparency when working with large capital purchases, make sure your chosen van supplier provides line-by-line pricing.

Custom van design

Perhaps one of the most attractive benefits of working directly with an accessible van manufacturer is their ability to create custom solutions.

If your program’s mobility needs require a a different van conversion design, MoveMobility’s team has the capabilities to address this.

The P Flex accessible van is an example of a conversion design that was created as a result of a specific client’s requirements. It has since become a popular accessible van option for organizations needing easy ambulatory access with a rear wheelchair entry.

Drawbacks of buying from Accessible Van Manufacturer

Potentially longer lead times

Lead times for mobility van delivery may be longer than buying a van off a dealer’s lot. Due to more innovative and custom van conversions, manufacturers often sell accessible vans on a build-to-order basis.

Less “try before you buy” options

It’s common for manufacturers to not keep a stock of completed vans “on the lot”. This is due to the specialized nature of accessible van conversions.

At MoveMobility, vans are typically presold before conversion work begins. This way, we convert vans to be exactly how our clients need them.

While we may not have ‘out of the box’ wheelchair vans ready to drive away, we provide van demonstrations so that buyers know what their wheelchair accessible van will look like.

Review of buying from Accessible Van Manufacturer

Buying an accessible van directly from a manufacturer has advantages. You have peace of mind that you’re working with an experienced company and that your van will meet your program’s needs. However, you should consider whether a potentially longer wait time is appropriate for your fleet replacement plans.

Benefits and Drawbacks of buying from a Dealer

Buying from a dealer means working with a company who buys and sells vans. Examples of a dealer are Dynamic Specialty Vehicles, Universal Motion, and your local Ford or Ram/Chrysler dealer. Some dealers may send vans away for conversions. Since there are often more steps in this process, check out the pros and cons of working with a dealer for your next accessible van project.

Dealer – Benefits Dealer – Drawbacks
Vans in stock/Inventory Limited accessible van options
Potentially faster process May not specialize in accessibility vans
Potential discounts to clear inventory Often more focused on winning business than your program’s success
The P Flex accessible van is an example of a conversion design created as a result of a specific client’s requirements. It has since become a popular accessible van option for organizations needing easy ambulatory access with rear wheelchair entry.

Benefits of buying from a Dealer

Vans in stock/Inventory

A dealer may have an accessible van in their inventory. Since dealers do not do wheelchair van modifications, this may depend on what they can buy from manufacturers.

Fast process

If a dealer has an accessible van in stock that suits your needs, you may be able to take delivery of the van quickly.

Potential discounts to clear inventory

If a dealer needs to reduce their inventory of accessible vans or is not able to sell a particular unit, they may offer incentives.

Drawbacks of buying from a Dealer

Limited accessible van options

Dealers rely on other manufacturers’ van designs. This means you are at the mercy of what your preferred dealer has in inventory. For example, your riders may prefer using a side entry ramp to access the van because they use a walker. However, let’s say you’re in dire need for a van replacement and the only option available at your preferred dealer is a van with a lift conversion. You may be left looking for alternatives.

May not specialize in accessible vans

Dealer personnel are often familiar in a wide variety of vans. However, this doesn’t mean they understand the complexity of mobility conversions. This can lead to confusion when deciding which type of accessible van your program needs.

Often more focused on winning business than your program’s success

Traditional van dealers may be more sales-oriented than manufacturers. You may fear that your mobility van needs are overlooked for the sake of selling a van. Be sure to make your mobility van needs clear, including whether any of your clients use special mobility devices.

Review of buying from a Dealer

Buying an accessible van direct from a dealer is common if an organization is loyal to a local dealer. Dealers may have an accessible van in stock, allowing you to take delivery quickly. However, buyers risk getting a van that does not truly meet their program’s mobility needs if the dealer’s mobility van options are limited.

Buying a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Now that you have compared the different companies to work with for buying a wheelchair accessible van, you may have decided whether to contact a dealer or a mobility van manufacturer.

If you are considering working directly with a manufacturer who understands your program’s needs, contact us at 844-951-3808 or by using the form below.

If you’d like to learn more about what to consider when buying a mobility van for your organization, visit our Resource Centre.

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