We are more aware today of the special needs of people when we watch the athletes compete in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and with the official end of the war in Afghanistan, more troops are coming home after losing limbs to IED explosions. One of our sons lost his mobility after a parachute landing that went bad. After 18 operations, he was able to walk and assist other veterans to obtain help.
Approximately 3.6 million people over the age of 15 use a wheelchair, and an additional 11.6 million people use a cane, crutches, or walker to get around. For many years, Winnebago has built full sized Class A vehicles, specially modified for individuals with wheelchair lifts. These vehicles were built with the specific needs of one person and their abilities. They were one of a kind. This made it difficult for the family to find a new owner for the unit when the end of life occurred.
“The freedom of travel with the comforts of home is what we strive for when designing Accessibility Enhanced RVs”, said Winnebago Specialty Vehicle Director of Sales, Jennifer Butters. “Whether one is taking a weekend trip or just running errands, we want to enable people to explore their world whenever the mood strikes them”.
Recently Winnebago started building a standardized floor plan on three Class A units – the Intent, the Adventurer, and the Forza, with accessibility enhancements to approximately 40% of the design features in the coach. A standardized floor plan makes the accessibility more visible to customers, as easy to purchase as a standard Winnebago, and provides economy of scale to help reduce costs to customers.
Winnebago has launched a new class B motorhome, the Roam, designed to meet the needs of mobility challenged customers.
I spoke with Robert Kim, the Director of Winnebago Specialty Vehicles about the need for a compact van style motorhome that a physically challenged person could use for camping or as a daily driver. As we travel around the country, we see more RVs modified to accommodate people who have lost the ability to walk.
The Roam is built on a Ram Promaster chassis with a 3.6 Pentastar engine that develops 280 horsepower. It has a six-speed automatic transmission and is 20 feet long so that it is easier to handle and park in the downtown areas. It has an underfloor Braun wheelchair lift that will support powered wheelchairs up to 300 pounds. A wireless remote control will allow you to open the wide sliding door to access the inside keypad on the left that controls lift. The smaller size of this van will help more people with accessibility needs to experience the flexibility and fun of an RV.
A rooftop air conditioner will keep the unit cool during hot days on the road, and a furnace under the sofa heats the coach in the fall and winter. There is no propane storage tank to save space and weight, so the furnace/water heater is powered from the engine gas tank. The coach has two deep cycle 12-volt AGM Group 31 batteries under the vehicle and a 3000-watt power inverter that is powerful enough to start the air conditioner, microwave, or TV when you are not in a campground. A 20-foot cord allows you to connect to the electrical facilities in a campground. There are several 120-volt electrical outlets situated around the coach and instead of a conventional two burner stove top, a microwave oven above the kitchen sink will heat your meals quickly. There are also several USB outlets in different locations. A cutting board is located conveniently under the counter and a three cubic-foot refrigerator will keep your milk and food safe during your travels.
The Roam seats up to five people and sleeps up to four with the optional pop-top. A powered Hide-a-Bed sofa bed across the rear of the unit can be used as a sitting area or bed. The upper cabinets lower down to allow a person in a wheelchair to easily reach the storage. There is a table with an extra slide-out work surface that provides an excellent workstation while sitting on the sofa with space for a person in a wheelchair on the opposite side. The wheelchair accessible shower allows one to transfer in and out easily with a grab handle and a European style cassette toilet eliminates the need for a waste tank under the floor. There are four places to hang clothes with an additional hanger in the shower.
The area near the entry way has the most room for manoeuvring the wheelchair inside the coach, you can roll around without hitting any obstructions. You can immobilize the chair when driving with two seat belts looped through the chair frame with four restraints in the floor and a shoulder belt fastened to the wall for safety. It would be useful to have a companion who would make sure the belts are tight and assist with the driving,
The front of the van has the usual dash with all the normal automotive controls for radio, ventilation, air conditioning, GPS, and two swivel seats that make it easier to transfer from the chair to the seats.
The Roam will be available in the Fall of 2021, currently authorized to be sold the following Winnebago dealers: La Mesa, Campers Inn, and Pleasureland. “These dealerships have trained their salespeople to support this particular type of customer. Because there are some unique needs and its important that the dealers are committed to serving them”, Robert Kim, Director of Specialty Vehicles.
The company expects that several Canadian Winnebago dealers will soon join the list of dealers with staff trained to work with customers looking for a new Roam.
For more information contact “https://sv.winnebago.com”