Mobility Ventures MV-1 First Drive: Not Necessarily a Taxi (2023)

Some of the best vehicles on the market are designed with a specific purpose in mind. A Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 can outrun some supercars on a road-racing course. A Jeep Wrangler Rubicon can conquer off-road obstacles that would defeat most other vehicles. A Kenworth W900 can rack up millions of miles dragging 40 tons of payload across interstates for months on end. A Ford Transit van can be outfitted to comfortably haul everything from a dozen people to thousands of Matchbox models of itself.

Similarly, the Mobility Ventures MV-1 is dedicated to one purpose, at which it excels. As the only purpose-built wheelchair-accessible vehicle on the market today, it is extremely valuable to its users. Other wheelchair-accessible light-duty vehicles are typically minivans or vans heavily modified by aftermarket companies, but the MV-1 was designed from the ground up with its primary purpose in clear focus. As such, it is subjected to the same standardized crash tests required of all conventional production cars (compared with fewer, selected tests for modified wheelchair-friendly vehicles), and it comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty.

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A five-year, 60,000-mile warranty covers the MV-1’s most important feature—a 30-inch-wide ramp that extends from the vehicle’s passenger side. The MV-1 we sampled had the available power-operated ramp, activated via buttons both inside the vehicle and on the key fob. The well-illuminated ramp can deploy to either 69.5 or 92.3 inches deep, depending on user preference, and retracts into a fully enclosed pocket in the floor of the vehicle. The short-ramp mode makes the incline steeper but is critical for the wheelchair user in standard handicapped parking spaces; even then, there might be barely enough room for the wheelchair to turn the corner if there’s a vehicle parked in the adjacent spot.

A Front-Row Seat

We enlisted this author’s mother—a wheelchair user who typically travels in a rear-ramp Chrysler Town & Country converted by BraunAbility—to help us test the MV-1. Many converted minivans use a side-ramp setup like the MV-1’s, but these tend to compromise the donor vehicle’s structure and diminish ground clearance. Since the MV-1 isn’t also trying to be a minivan, its floorpan and suspension don’t have to be re-engineered for wheelchair access. It offers six inches of ground clearance and a conveniently low step-in height. Importantly, unlike many competitor vehicles, the MV-1 allows the wheelchair to be secured in the shotgun position. It has been years since Mom last rode in the front of a vehicle, and she greatly appreciated the view.

Unfortunately, the footrest on her wheelchair interfered with the front Q’Straint floor anchors (four of which conveniently secure the wheelchair to the vehicle) such that she couldn’t pull far enough forward to allow the MV-1’s B-pillar-mounted integral shoulder belt to fit as snugly as it should have. Belting her in with the distant C-pillar belt or raising her footrest could have remedied this—and made her crabby—but the best solution for an MV-1 owner might be to fine-tune the wheelchair’s orientation by installing a single-point docking station, a setup that’s similar to a big rig’s trailer hitch and would help ensure consistent wheelchair positioning for every journey. (Conversions that allow the wheelchair user to transfer into the MV-1 driver’s seat also are available.) It must be noted that mobility aids such as wheelchairs and scooters come in as many sizes as the humans they help.

(Video) 2013/2012 VPG MV-1 Start Up, Exhaust, and In Depth Review

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A New American Carmaker

Production of the MV-1 began in late 2011 at an AM General facility in Indiana under the auspices of a company called Vehicle Production Group (which received $50 million from the U.S. Department of Energy around the same time that companies such as Tesla and Fisker got similar government loans). By 2013, when VPG became insolvent, AM General took over the operation and restarted production in 2014 under the nascent Mobility Ventures brand. The company now builds about 2000 MV-1s annually in the same factory that makes Mercedes-Benz R-class SUVs for China. Fleet buyers are responsible for about 60 percent of MV-1 sales, and most of those go to taxi companies, which are wise to operate a diverse fleet. You’re most likely to have seen an MV-1 in a big city—and perhaps you wondered aloud, “Who overinflated that Honda Element?”

Indeed, the MV-1’s styling is jarring, but its extreme boxiness enables the wide-open interior that makes it possible for a wheelchair to make a 90-degree right turn to occupy the space where most vans have a standard passenger seat. There’s room for a second wheelchair in the MV-1’s large midsection, too, but two power-operated chairs like Mom’s wouldn’t fit at the same time. The MV-1 also has a wide three-place rear bench, although its cushion is so high that some of our adult passengers couldn’t touch their feet to the floor. No rear-seat occupant will ever kick the back of the driver’s seat, so far apart are the two rows, and it can be difficult to hear what those distant rear passengers have to say over the din of this large, boxy vehicle that lacks interior carpeting. Like a proper taxicab, the MV-1 offers an optional jump seat that can be tacked onto the back of the driver’s seat. A few folding wheelchairs easily can be stashed in the 36-cubic-foot cargo area, and the MV-1 even has a 3000-pound towing capacity.

The MV-1 starts at $40,890, not including a radio or cruise control. For a base price of $51,065, the mid-level DX, like our test vehicle, adds those basics plus the slick power ramp supplied by ASC, the company that paired with McLaren to help produce the 1980s Buick GNX. A 30-year-old Buick might seem nicer than the top-of-the-line $58,085 MV-1 LX, which gets cosmetic alterations (notice that we didn’t say upgrades) such as a different grille, aluminum wheels, and faux-wood interior appliqués. No MV-1 is inexpensive, but brand-new minivans converted for wheelchair compatibility generally start in the low-$30,000 range and can exceed $60,000. Many have awkward-looking styling, but even elemental cargo vans have more attractive cabins and instrument panels than the MV-1’s.

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(Video) MV1

Surely the Mobility Ventures MV-1 would cost even more—or not exist at all—if the company didn’t source many parts from other automakers. Most notably, the 3.7-liter V-6 engine and the six-speed automatic transmission come straight from Ford’s parts bin circa 2010, although the engine’s output ratings match those of today’s Ford Transit van. Ford also provides most of the suspension architecture as well as the interior switchgear, from the power-window toggles to the steering column. (Earlier MV-1s used Ford’s old taxi-tastic 4.6-liter V-8.) Chevrolet contributes a Camaro differential and rear brakes from the long-discontinued Uplander minivan. The center stack, which contains few if any Ford pieces, looks particularly unfinished and haphazardly designed. The horribly outdated aftermarket radio head unit—a 7.0-inch touchscreen that brings a rudimentary navigation system for $1095—displayed upside-down images from the backup camera on multiple occasions during our two weeks with the MV-1.

Keep Their Heads Ringin’

We have other complaints. The powertrain transmits an unpleasant abundance of driveline noise into the cabin. When the V-6 is under load, it sounds as though the engine is about to ingest the driver’s feet, although some folks thought the exhaust note sounded nicely throaty. We intended to produce a full report including performance-testing data on the MV-1, but a coolant hose came off at the test track and suspended our testing regimen. Suffice it to say that Mobility Ventures’ product is slow and loud. It’s also thirsty—we averaged 15 mpg over about 1000 miles.

Piloting the MV-1 feels much like driving an old-school full-size van, albeit one with a longer hood. The driving position is upright and chairlike, and the seat is widely adjustable for height; unfortunately, there’s no grab handle to assist the driver with ingress or egress, which seems particularly inexcusable in a vehicle designed to serve people with mobility issues. The steering feels heavy and imprecise, and the body leans and pitches precariously during even moderate cornering and braking exercises. Rough roads reveal a stiff suspension that shakes rear-seat occupants in particular. The auxiliary air conditioner (mounted on the ceiling near the hatch hinges) inhibits rearward visibility, but the view in all other directions is quite good, thanks to an expansive greenhouse. The tight-for-its-size 43-foot turning circle would enable easy parking-lot maneuvering, if only the steering wheel self-centered.

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(Video) MV-1 Handicapped Vehicle musings (VMI complaints) Mobility Monday!

Keep in mind, though, that converted vans and minivans also possess atypical, uninspiring driving dynamics. Their supplementary ramps add mass that impedes acceleration and adversely affects ride and handling; in addition to ground-clearance issues, aftermarket ramps often provide conduits to transmit noises that the original maker had tuned out. To its credit—and true to its dual purpose as a taxicab—the body-on-frame MV-1 tends to be notably more durable than its converted-minivan rivals.

Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are crucial tools for many millions of Americans, and the MV-1 occupies a unique place in the market. We applaud its suitability to that specific mission but wish it did a better job of giving its occupants the comfort—and at least a somewhat appealing driving experience—that those of us who don’t need wheelchairs enjoy in other vehicles at this price.


VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4- or 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

BASE PRICES: SE, $40,890;
DX, $51,065;
LX, $58,085

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 227 cu in, 3731 cc
Power: 275 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

Wheelbase: 122.0 in
Length: 205.0 in
Width: 79.4 in Height: 76.3 in
Passenger volume: 127 cu ft
Cargo volume: 36 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 5100 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 8.5 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 24.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.5 sec
Top speed: 83-100 mph

EPA city/highway driving: 14/16 mpg


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What kind of vehicle is an MV-1? ›

The MV-1 was a purpose-built taxicab designed by Vehicle Production Group and built in Mishawaka, Indiana at an AM General plant The name is an initialism for "Mobility Vehicle 1". It was intended to replace the planned Standard Taxi, and like that car it was developed in collaboration with AM General.

What happened to the MV-1? ›

Once the factory changed hands in 2016, all MV-1 and R-Class production halted.

Who owns MV-1? ›

Simple. Made by Mobility Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of AM General, the MV-1 is the only purpose-built vehicle designed from the ground up to accommodate universal accessibility.

Who makes mobility ventures? ›

Mobility Ventures LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of AM General, is an OEM making the first-ever factory-produced wheelchair accessible vehicle, the MV-1.

What does MV stand for on a car? ›

MOTOR VEHICLE (MV) definition.

What does MV stand for in driving? ›

Better known as your driving record, your MVR includes any moving violations, traffic tickets, and accidents you've had either within a given time period or throughout your driving history.

Do they still make the MV-1 van? ›

The MV-1 is not currently in production and new units are not available.

Did one of the cargo ships sink? ›

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Emirati-flagged cargo ship, longer than a soccer field, sank in stormy seas off Iran's southern coast in the Persian Gulf on Thursday, authorities said. Rescuers were trying to account for all of the vessel's 30 crew members.

How many mv1s were made? ›

The company is called Vehicle Production Group LLC, and it builds the ungainly but utterly practical MV-1, the only private car sold in the U.S. designed from scratch to be wheelchair accessible. Here's the kicker: Since production began in September 2011, VPG has built more than 2,500 MV-1s.

What is the MV-1 based on? ›

Built on an old AM General production line in Indiana that had been left dormant with the discontinuation of the Hummer H2, the MV-1 used a number of Ford and GM parts bin components and originally featured the tried-and-true 4.6-liter Ford V8.

Who owns a Koenigsegg car? ›

Christian von Koenigsegg

Who owns the ship Skyfall? ›

Skyfall, one of the largest yachts to ever cruise into Wrightsville Beach is the talk of the town. So, who owns that huge yacht? His name is Roy Carroll. Carroll, who lives in Greensboro, is the owner of The Carroll Companies, a real estate development firm valued at about $3 billion.

What is MV-1 used for in PA? ›

A Pennsylvania Certificate of Title will only be issued when the out-of-state title is submitted with the completed Form MV-1, "Application for Certificate of Title." Likewise, a temporary Pennsylvania registration plate may only be issued when the out-of-state title is submitted with the application for Pennsylvania ...

What is a Georgia MV-1 form? ›

MV-1 DOR Motor Vehicle Title/Tag Application | Georgia Department of Revenue.

What is M1 motor vehicle? ›

Category M1: Means a motor vehicle used for the carriage of passengers, comprising not more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat.


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