Cutting-edge Technology for Minivans

Reprinted from PN March 2011

Vantage Mobility International receives a patent for an innovative rear suspension on minivans.

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Headquartered in Phoenix, Vantage Mobility International (VMI), a manufacturer and distributor of wheelchair-accessible minivans, was awarded a patent for an innovative rear suspension on a wheelchair minivan. When applied to lowered-floor Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Town & Country minivans, this invention is helping consumers with physical challenges gain additional freedom and independence.

“We’re proud that this patented design is helping people gain back their driving independence,” says Doug Eaton, VMI president.

Vantage Mobility International engineers Neil O'Leary (right) and Mike Schmidt designed an innovative rear suspension for wheelchair-accessible minivans.

The inventors, long-time VMI engineers Neal O’Leary and Mike Schmidt, developed this technology in the early stages of converting the Honda Odyssey to a lowered- floor ramp, wheelchair-accessible vehicle. When O’Leary and Schmidt came across a series of competing consumer requirements—including ride and handling, interior room, cost, and ride height—they were not deterred. The outcome is a wheelchair van that maintains OEM suspension kinematics, has similar ride and handling characteristics of an unconverted Odyssey, and has maximum wheelchair maneuvering room. The invention has since been applied to the Chrysler Town & Country.

The provisional application was filed in 2007, and the final application in 2008. As of November 23, 2010, U.S. patent number 7,837,303 is marked on the rear suspension of all VMI Honda Odysseys per USPTO [United States Patent and Trademark Office] regulation. The patent also excludes others from manufacturing, distributing, building, selling, or using the product without VMI’s permission.

“We encourage our team’s creative thinking to provide the mobility market with great products at fair prices,” notes Ted Larson, VMI vice president of engineering. “Schmidt and O’Leary represent the caliber of our people and the products they build.”

Eaton adds, “Fair competition in the marketplace helps foster innovation, which ultimately benefits consumers. One of the reasons we support fair competition is the tremendous engineering and intellectual capital poured into every product. This patent demonstrates the value of that competition for everyone who needs a wheelchair van.”

VMI’s full line of products includes domestic and import minivan conversions, full-size van conversions, platform lifts, scooter and wheelchair lifts, and transfer seats.



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Cutting-edge Technology for Minivans


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