Accessible vehicle solutions are becoming an important leasing category for personal transportation providers. An aging population is part of the reason; Statistics Canada surveys suggest a growing number of individuals in private households require a wheelchair to get around, whether due to illness, disease, natural aging or permanent injury. Additionally, more Canadians are require mobility-support devices such as braces, canes or crutches. Companies operating vehicle fleets often have to transform standard vehicles into wheelchair accessible vehicles, and there are strict guidelines to follow.

The cost of converting a mini-van into a vehicle accessible to wheelchair users can run anywhere from $4,000 to as high as $30,000 on top of the van’s purchased price. Purpose-built vehicles are also available and can be purchased at reduced prices. However, transforming wheelchair accessible vehicles in Canada can be a smart solution for companies looking to lease their fleets. There are many different designs that can be incorporated into an accessible vehicle. For example, side entry conversions are one of the most accessible styles, and are often the preferred choice. In fact, over 75 percent of non-commercial wheelchair accessible vehicles feature the side-entry conversion. These usually incorporate foldout ramps and lifts or in-floor ramps. Typically with this style of conversion, the floor is lowered to give passengers more headspace when sitting in their wheelchairs. These side-entry vehicles are perfect for curbside pickup and drop off of passengers; they also tend to feature removable seats which allow wheelchair users to either ride in the passenger seat or drive the vehicle. However, given the size of accessible vehicles and the spaces often allocated for them in parking lots, side conversions are not always the most convenient choice. Many providers of accessible transportation choose a rear conversion to accommodate passengers.  These type of vehicles usually feature a foldout ramp with a lowered centre area designed for a motorized or manual wheelchair entry. These types of conversions require less modification, and allow side and middle seats to remain intact to accommodate additional passengers.

Before considering any lease of a vehicle for accessible purposes, you should really research the options that fit your mobility needs. Who your clients will be and what types of mobility issues they have will determine the features you may want for any accessible vehicle solution. Whether you need manual or automatic ramps, swivel seats, hand controls and other innovative accessible vehicle solutions should be determined before any conversion is started. The fewer moving parts there are, the less the cost to install and maintain your accessible vehicle will be.

A qualified vehicle leasing company can help you determine the right vehicle, the right additions and the right lease for your needs. Lean more. Visit Jim Peplinski Leasing online at


Former NHL’er Jim Peplinski