26 June 2012 – Last week’s Mobility Roadshow 2012, held at the Peterborough Arena, has been voted outstanding by motor manufacturers. As the doors opened advance test drive registrations were already at a record level of more than 4,000 and the track was extremely busy throughout the three days, despite rain and adverse windy conditions for much of the time.
“There was strong evidence at the Roadshow of good quality innovation and design in meeting the future needs of people with disabilities, commented Ann Frye, Chair of the Mobility Choice Board of Trustees. “Over the last 10 to 15 years the scope and quality of vehicle adaptations has vastly improved. Today we saw a range comparable to that one would see at the national Motor Show. And there is no doubt people with disabilities are increasingly able to find the right solution from a wide range of high quality products.”
However, many visitors expressed concern about the impact of the proposed changes to the benefit system, which could mean that a considerable number of disabled people may risk losing the funding that enables them to afford the vehicle they need to maintain their mobility and independence.
In the Motoring Arena there were several ‘first view and test drive’ opportunities, with manufacturers reporting excellent visitor feedback. GM Coachwork was delighted with the response to its new compact DUO drive-from-wheelchair vehicle based on the Citroën Berlingo. “Visitors to the stand particularly liked the capacious interior, the flat floor and interchangeable driver and passenger seats,” said Matthew Smith, Marketing Manager.
Vauxhall was offering three new adapted models available to test drive for the first time. The Zafira Tourer was hugely popular and there was also considerable interest in the Astra GTC and Vauxhall Antara. “Our stand was very busy and our test drive figures over the three days were considerably higher than last year: it was a great show for us,” said Andy Vincent, Manager, Motability Sales and Marketing.
On Allied Mobility’s new Fiat Freedom WAV the very wide ramp that accommodates a wheelchair up to 31” width was impressive. “Visitors also liked the interior length and comparable headroom, ideal for larger chairs,” said John Morton, Area Sales Manager.
Sirus Automotive launched its new Fiat ‘Future’, which the company says is the UK’s lowest priced up front passenger solution, which allows the wheelchair user to travel up front next to the driver from the comfort of their own wheelchair. It is based on the fuel-efficient 1.3 Fiat Quobo. “Being able to travel upfront and not having to use an intercom to speak with the driver is wonderful,” commented one visitor. “Several people were surprised that travelling upfront is becoming much more affordable and we had many requests for home demonstrations,” said Vicky Crees, Sirus Marketing Manager.
Lewis Reed had previewed a prototype of its new SEAT Alhambra five passenger seat vehicle at an earlier show this year but chose to launch the final model at the Mobility Roadshow. “People really liked the fact that the Alhambra looks like a conventional family vehicle, the sliding side doors proved a hit and overall it was extremely well received: we are delighted with the response,” said Lizzie Green, Marketing Manager.
Autoadapt's Driver Test Station was hugely popular, confirming that people with disabilities want to be confident they install the most appropriate adaptations for safe driving. "We had so many end users who came to the stand and were prepared to wait for assessments – it was fantastic, the stand was continuously busy throughout the whole exhibition," said John Bhogal, Sales Director, Autoadapt UK Ltd.
“Although test drive results from exhibitors in the Motoring Arena are considerably higher than in recent years, there was disappointment from some visitors at the lack of brands represented overall,” commented Jacqui Jones, Executive Director, Mobility Choice, the charity that organises the Roadshow. “I would stress to those brands not present at the show that this event is not just for Motability customers, but also for private owners who are buying their vehicles outright – surely a marketing opportunity not to be missed.”
Dates and venue of the 30th Anniversary Mobility Roadshow 2013 will be announced shortly.