These new Type A coaches open up avenues for people with mobility issues that might otherwise prevent them from enjoying the RV lifestyle.
By Lazelle Jones
The Florida RV SuperShow, held every January in Tampa, is a premier event where RV manufacturers debut their latest models and designs. At the 2019 SuperShow, Winnebago Industries, as they always do, presented new, updated, and enhanced RVs from the company’s lineup. The Winnebago Specialty Vehicles division also introduced three motorhomes intended to serve the needs of the millions of people who have mobility issues, including those who use wheelchairs. Winnebago’s Accessibility Enhanced motorhomes provide people who have mobility challenges the opportunity to embrace the freedoms afforded by the RV lifestyle.
The three new production-built Accessibility Enhanced Type A motorhomes feature floor plans in which 40 percent of the interior of the coach is redesigned from the original model and engineered specifically to meet the needs of those who use a wheelchair or have other forms of limited mobility.
It is important to note that Winnebago Industries has been creating accessible motorhomes for more than 40 years but has been doing so upon individual customer requests. In a low-key manner, they have been making it possible for those with limited mobility to hit the open road and enjoy the kinds of adventures associated with the RV lifestyle. With the introduction of its Accessibility Enhanced motorhomes, the company is taking this to the next level and creating standardized floor plans that make this option more apparent to customers and as simple to purchase as other Winnebago RVs. These standardized plans include the most-requested features from past customer orders but can be personalized for individual needs.
For model-year 2019, Winnebago adapted three of its popular models and floor plans and introduced the Intent 30R AE, the Adventurer 30T AE, and the Forza 34T AE. The aim is to have these three new Type A motorhomes built routinely on Winnebago production lines in Forest City, Iowa.
Equally important is that dealers now feature these all-new AE motorhomes on their lots. For example, in the Southeast, Lazy Days in Tampa, Florida, has these units in their inventory. Soon, a dealership in Pennsylvania also will have Winnebago AE motorhomes on its lot. For those who use a wheelchair or have special mobility requirements, it now is possible to visit a dealer and not just talk in the abstract about what can be done to accommodate their needs. They actually can put one of these new units through its paces using their wheelchair, walker, or crutches. They can experience firsthand how the Accessibility Enhanced motorhomes facilitate a broad range of needs in order for mobility-challenged individuals to begin living the RV lifestyle.
In a think-tank type of setting, Winnebago designers assessed and categorized the needs of individuals with limited mobility. They identified the special requests they had received during the past few decades to provide accommodations for those with mobility needs. These three new units are the result of this research. They provide enhanced ingress and egress to the coach, as well as ease of movement inside. For instance, the Adventurer 30T AE offers a minimum 30-inch-wide passage for wheelchairs from front to rear. The bathroom layout has been opened up extensively to provide access, while still affording privacy via accordion-fold doors. The Forza 34T AE features a sliding pocket door to separate the bedroom and the front living area.
New for 2020 in the Intent 30R AE is a power-operated Murphy bed. When the bed is not in use and is stowed away, a sofa becomes available, and a large rear lounge area results. In the Forza 34T AE, standard features include a queen-size bed with electronics that allow the user to raise the head of the bed as desired. On the Adventurer 30T AE, as an option, the head and foot of the bed can be raised and lowered. In some instances, raising the entire bed is possible. Winnebago’s own StudioLoft bed above the cockpit is standard in the Intent 30R AE and optional in the Adventurer 30T AE and Forza 34T AE; it offers sleeping space for additional passengers.
Coach system controls are positioned to make it easy for those with mobility issues to reach and operate them. Special furniture includes tables that wheelchair users can roll up to and under, or cantilevered-style dining tables. Extra slideout control switches can be added near the entrance to the motorhome or near the cockpit seat.
As an option on the Adventurer 30T AE and Forza 34T AE, a ceiling-mounted rail/track that runs fore and aft in the coach can be added. Shorter lengths of ceiling track can be placed to assist in using the bathroom facilities, getting in and out of bed, or transferring to the driver or passenger seats. These ceiling tracks come equipped with a power lifting motor that rolls along the track and can raise an individual using a sling or body cradle as needed. Grab rail placement can be tailored to accommodate individual users. Structural reinforcement is added to the roof and walls of the vehicles to allow for these features.
If notified when the motorhome order is being placed, Winnebago designers also can accommodate special requests that support electrical charging of equipment such as wheelchairs and scooters. All of the features are built into the Intent 30R AE, Adventurer 30T AE, and Forza 34T AE motorhomes as they move down the Winnebago production line.
A single AE floor plan is offered in each of these three motorhomes, with a standardized interior and exterior décor package. Other décor choices are available, but they need to be coordinated at the time the coach is ordered. For example, the Intent is available with one interior option and two graphics options; the Adventurer has two interior and two wood choices, as well as two exteriors; the Forza offers four interiors, three wood choices, and four exteriors. Each coach features a living area slideout. The Intent and Adventurer also have a bedroom slideout, and the Forza has a curbside slideout that incorporates a wardrobe, room for an optional washer and dryer, and the galley appliances.
The Intent 30R AE and Adventurer 30T AE are gasoline-powered units, while the Forza 34T AE is a diesel pusher. The Intent 30R AE measures 30 feet 10 inches long, and the Adventurer 30T AE is 31 feet long, while the diesel-powered Forza 34T AE is 35 feet 9 inches long. All are 8 feet 5 inches wide.
By standardizing the design in its Accessibility Enhanced offerings, Winnebago officials have made it possible for these three new motorhomes to be mass-produced using the same mixed production methods employed when building many other Winnebago RVs. The Intent, Adventurer, and Forza AE units move along the same production lines as conventional Winnebago motorhomes. The mixed production method provides economies of scale, and the efficiencies achieved show up as reduced costs to the customer. It also means that attention to detail, fit and finish, and quality can be closely controlled and guaranteed on every coach.
To provide access for those in wheelchairs, Winnebago installs an electric-powered wheelchair lift designed and engineered by BraunAbility. The same proven technologies used in weatherproofing and sealing slideout rooms in conventional motorhomes are employed to make the lift’s aperture impervious to outside elements when the roll-up door is closed.
For model year 2020, Winnebago designers have incorporated a pneumatically operated, remote-controlled swing door for the wheelchair-lift opening. The door will swing open at least 90 degrees, which permits greater clearance for the wheelchair lift when descending and ascending. The construction and improved seals also result in an enhanced insulation R-value for the door. Should a power failure ever occur, the door can be manually opened. Wall-mount and key-fob controls allow wheelchair users to enter the motorhome independently.
The BraunAbility wheelchair lift has a gross weight rating of 800 pounds, which means it can accommodate most individuals in a wheelchair, as well as those who have mobility issues and wish to stand on the lift to be raised to the floor level of the coach. All three AE motorhomes also have a standard patio-side entry door.
Winnebago designers want the new AE motorhomes to be accessible, functional, and full of utility for those with special mobility needs, but that does not mean they have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to aesthetics. The visual appeal of the new AE coaches is as much of a priority as it is with the conventional coaches the company builds. This is true on the interior and exterior. Both the Adventurer and the Forza come with a full-body-paint exterior, and the Intent has high-gloss sidewalls with graphics package options.
Base manufacturer suggested retail prices for the 2019 Accessibility Equipped floor plans are as follows: 2019 Intent 30R AE — $202,295; Adventurer 30T AE — $229,941; Forza 34T AE — $341,124.
For more information, visit www.winnebagoind.com/product-classes/accessibility-enhanced or call Winnebago Specialty Vehicles at (800) 492-9135.
(Available on most configurations)
*Platform wheelchair lift with 800-pound lifting capacity
*Wall-mount and key-fob remote controls that allow wheelchair users to enter and exit the coach independently
*Expanded hallway and toilet areas
*Large roll-in shower with assist bar and optional folding bench seat
*Electric-adjustable queen-size bed
*Microwave oven placement
*Remote-control roof vents
*Light and generator switch placement
*Faucet controls and adjustable showerhead
*Systems monitor placement
*Power seat transfer option