There is no simple answer to the question if future technology will eventually replace conversion vans. With technology pushing us further than ever before, we know that it will continue to propel the automotive industry to places its never been. One automotive technology advancement that you have probably read a lot about in the news, is self-driving cars. More and more companies have been jumping on this technology bandwagon and it is looking more and more like self-driving cars will soon be a reality on the open road.
So, how will driverless cars affect the wheelchair van industry? We get asked this question a lot. And the follow-up question we often get asked is if we think self-driving vehicles will someday replace handicapped vans for sale?
A Bit of History Behind Self-Driving Vehicles
First, let’s take a peek at the history of driverless vehicles. It may surprise you to learn that experiments with self-driving cars were documented as early as the 1920s. However the first truly self-driving vehicles, that are anywhere close to what we know them as today, came to be in the 1980s.
In more recent years, one big player in the self-driving vehicles movement has been the team at Google. In 2009, Google started the self-driving vehicle project. Their mission was simple, to make the roads a safer place to be and to increase mobility for everyone. By 2012, they had hit the open road, freeways to be specific, with their self-driving vehicles and their test drivers. Later the same year, they started using self-driving vehicles on more complex city streets in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
In 2016, the project was rebranded under the name Waymo, and in 2017 Waymo developed fully self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid vehicles. In addition to testing their fleet with human riders, the company has also started working on expanding their vehicle models to include electric vehicles, as well. To date, the vehicle models they have modified for testing include the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX450h, the Firefly electric vehicle and now the Chrysler Pacifica.
How Driverless Vehicles Affect Car Sales
Before we look specifically at the wheelchair van industry, let’s take a look at how this technology will affect car sales in general. Based on ridership that utilizes ride services like Uber and Lyft as a main mode of transportation, market research suggests that new car sales will drop by half between now and 2030. However, this does not include any data on how driverless vehicle sales will affect the car sales industry in the future.
The same market research does suggest that more people will buy driverless cars because consumers will be able to multitask more easily with a driverless vehicle model, thus making it more attractive to consumers. Additionally, the number of aging baby-boomers that may need assistance when it comes to daily errands and appointments, could help to increase self-driving vehicle sales. Lastly, this research does not take individuals with disabilities and how driverless cars could benefit and assist these individuals, as well.
The Future for Individuals with Disabilities
Disability advocates say that access to transportation can impact both education and type of job that individuals with disabilities can get. What they are saying by this is that individuals with physical disabilities who may need a driver, for example those who are blind or those who do not have use of all four extremities, are limited to working or going to school whenever they have access to a driver.
Beyond individuals with physical disabilities, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) often have difficulty navigating transportation. Self-driving vehicles could mean that these individuals would not have a limitation on when and where they are able to go. This would open up a lot of possibilities for these individuals.
Conversion Vans and Driverless Vehicles
So, will driverless vehicles replace handicapped vans for sale for wheelchair users? We do not think that they will. At least, we do not believe that they will anytime soon. It is unclear how much driverless vehicles will cost once they hit the open market for consumers. It is also unclear what the additional cost for regular maintenance will be for the new technology present in these vehicles.
Beyond that, it will take some time for wheelchair vans manufacturers, like our team of engineers at Rollx Vans, to work with the driverless vehicle models and develop a roadmap for customizing them with ramps, tie down and securement devices, and transfer seats.
All things considered, we think that it may take some time before driverless vehicles become the vehicle of choice for general consumers and for wheelchair users.
Leading the Way at Rollx Vans
No one can know for sure what effect driverless vehicles will have on the wheelchair vans industry. We can only make educated guesses until the time comes that they are available on the mass market. Until that point, we’re trying to make transportation a little bit simpler for our customers. We’re doing this with the help of conversion features like our six way transfer seats, remote access sliding doors and electronic tie downs.
No matter the future of driverless vehicles, the team at Rollx Vans will be paving the way for our customers and their families. Contact our team today to get more information on how one of our vehicles can make a difference for you or a loved one.