The AM General auto assembly plant in Mishawaka, Indiana is where they used to build Hummer H2s. Now, its workers are making something a little less ... controversial. It's a van called the MV-1, MV standing for "Mobility Vehicle," and it's designed specifically for wheelchair-using passengers. Its designers claim that it is better suited to the handicapped than converted conventional vans, and the first factory-built model rolled off the assembly line yesterday.

A product of Miami's Vehicle Production Group, the MV-1 has a large 56 x 36-inch (142 x 91 cm) side door, and a 1,200 pound (544 kg)-capacity deployable ramp that stows under the floor when not in use. It can accommodate two wheelchair-using passengers, or one wheelchair and five additional traditionally-seated occupants, if the optional jump seat is used. Floor tracks are used to secure wheelchairs and scooters. The non-handicapped driver sits behind the wheel in a regular-style seat - perhaps future versions could allow wheelchair users to also drive, using something like RUVID's hand control device?

The vehicle is based around a body-on-frame configuration, and is powered by a Ford 4.6L 2V EFI V8 engine with an electronic four-speed automatic transmission. For the energy and/or environmentally-conscious, however, a factory-installed Compressed Natural Gas fuel system is also available. Vans with the CNG system should have a driving range of approximately 290 miles (466.7 km).

More specs and other information can be found on the MV-1 website, where vehicles can also be ordered. The base SE model is priced at US$39,950, for American customers only.

The following video illustrates how the van accommodates wheelchair-using passengers.