PHOENIX, Ariz. – March 19, 2012 – Vantage Mobility International (VMI), a leader in the manufacture and distribution of wheelchair accessible vehicles, gave mobility van owners the opportunity to voice their opinion about ramp conversion systems for the Toyota Sienna during a “blind” comparison called You Be the Judge. The comparison, which took place in Phoenix in November 2012, was the mobility industry’s first independent comparison test of this magnitude. The results showed an overwhelmingly positive response from wheelchair-users and caregivers. The information collected during the comparison is now being released to the public through a series of videos that can be viewed at www.vmichallenge.com.
“Like the mainstream automotive market, mobility consumers deserve to be heard about the products they drive,” said Doug Eaton, president of Vantage Mobility International. “Traditionally, our feedback has come from small focus groups. For the first time in our industry’s history, we teamed up with an independent group and created You Be the Judge. During the event wheelchair users compared our Toyota Sienna with Access360 In-floor Ramp Conversion with a leading competitor’s product on the market. The feedback we received was insightful and powerful.”
You Be the Judge gave a number of wheelchair-users and their caregivers the opportunity to test drive a 2012 Toyota Sienna from VMI as well as a leading competitor. Guests participated in “blind” side-by-side comparisons to evaluate both products on a variety of levels. Throughout the process, participants completed surveys and rated the anonymous vehicles on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the top score. The brands were not revealed until the survey was completed and the results tallied.
The five categories judged by consumers were: ramp system; door opening height and interior space for wheelchair maneuverability; interior space for driver and front passenger positions; styling fit and finish; and ground clearance.
When asked about wheelchair maneuverability of the VMI Access360 In-floor Ramp Conversion, one You Be the Judge participant said, “[in the VMI van] I was able to pull out, back up and then drive straight.” Likewise, another participant noted, “it allowed me a lot of room to maneuver; fit in like a glove. It’s pretty fluid.”
The results of the test were so important that VMI has created an online video that allows consumers to review the comparison and make their own judgment. “Our online video captures all of the excitement and scope of the You Be the Judge in Phoenix,” said Eaton. “The first 1000 visitors who watch the ten minute video and complete a simple online form will receive a free You Be the Judge t-shirt from VMI. They’ll also be entered into a drawing to win an Apple iPad.”