As the wheelchair population continues to grow by approximately 2 million people per year, the demand for wheelchair accessible vehicles is on the rise.

In 2015, the number of people using wheelchairs in the U.S. was nearly 3.3 million, a number that is expected to increase significantly over the next decade due to a rise in cases of trauma, accidental injuries, sports injuries and the surge in the aging population. As a result, the automotive industry has responded to the need for greater freedom of mobility by creating more customizable and user-friendly options for mobility conversion vehicles. 

Defining the needs of the mobility market

Several factors can be used to breakdown the wheelchair accessible vehicle converters industry into smaller segments. Starting with size of vehicle, there are three major classifications including: full, medium and small vehicles. While full-size vehicles represent the majority of revenue for the market, the demand for medium-size vehicles is higher in North America, according to a recent market report.

Within the broader classifications, there are two main methods used for entry modality: ramps and lifts. Ramps are more commonly used in medium and small vehicles, and lifts are most frequently used in full-size vehicles. Due to lower installation and maintenance costs, and greater ease of use, ramps have become a favored option of many. In fact, the ramps segment led the North America wheelchair accessible vehicle converters market, making up nearly half of market shares in 2015.

Mobility vehicles can accommodate both side and rear entry, though side entry is most common as it offers a wider range of options for freedom of mobility. Side entry provides users greater access to different seating positions in the vehicle, enables passengers to enter and exit the vehicle more easily on curbs, and offers more storage space in the vehicle.

As the demand for more freedom of mobility continues to grow, the automotive industry looks to best suit wheelchair user needs by providing more customizable options with each mobility conversion vehicle project.

Future market forecast

The automotive industry recognizes the need for greater freedom of mobility for wheelchair users, and that need is expected to grow exponentially in years to come. More specifically, the 2015 market for wheelchair accessible vehicle converters in North America had an estimated opportunity worth $1.74 billion. The market is forecasted to show significant growth by 2024, reaching a potential $3.47 billion, according to Transparency Market Research.

The growing disabled population is one of the most significant factors affecting the market forecast; however, growth is also attributed to an increase in government funding and greater awareness for mobility conversion vehicles.

Factors affecting wheelchair mobility conversion vehicle market

While the demand for wheelchair mobility conversion vehicles will continue to push the industry forward, the high price of these vehicles may restrict overall market growth over the next few years, according to a recent industry report.

As the need for user-friendly accessible vehicles continues to rise, it is essential for the automotive industry to adapt to better meet user needs. In order for the automotive industry to effectively respond to this surge in demand, OEMs must be able to reduce costs associated with conversions to make vehicles more accessible to the growing wheelchair population.