The BraunAbility MXV Explorer is Another Form of Ford Mobility

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Mobility is a versatile concept. It can be shared; Ford Credit Link is a new spin on automotive leasing. To the Blue Oval, mobility can even mean motorcycles in West Africa.

Of course, mobility is most commonly associated with cars, SUVs, and trucks, which Ford is most known for.

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The BraunAbility MXV is a Ford Explorer that’s been converted to be driven by people who primarily use another rolling form of mobility: a wheelchair. Jesse Billauer, the founder of Life Rolls On, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury,” uses one. In 1996, the successful junior surfer broke his neck while surfing at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California and became a quadriplegic.

Billauer didn’t become land-bound, though. He kept going back to the water and developed adaptive surfing equipment. Last year, he was crowned the first World Champion of Adaptive Surfing (in the Assist category) by taking home the gold for Team USA. The people who participate in his organization’s events take home memories of skating and surfing in spite of their spinal cord injuries.

Billauer recently appeared at the Dallas Auto Show to talk about Life Rolls On and the BraunAbility MXV Explorer. He’ll soon be the owner of one. Billauer will be able to drive his roughly $60,000 conversion from the comfort of his wheelchair after entering the 55-inch door opening on the in-floor ramp. Unlike the rig on display, his will be darker and sleeker to match his style, although he did like the black wheels on the show model. His biggest problem with the MXV? He (jokingly) said it attracts the attention of too many women, which makes his wife jealous.

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Other owners of the MXV should find its movable shifter handy in making room for people in the front row, which can fit two wheelchairs thanks to its removable seats. Depending on wheelchair size, it’s possible for someone in a wheelchair to fit in the middle row as well. Outback, the MXV can pull a maximum of 5,000 pounds when equipped with an optional tow package.

The downside is that since BraunAbility lowers the floor of the Explorer to convert it into an MXV at its Winamac, Indiana plant, it’s not able to use 4WD Explorers as a starting point. That means the Explorer Sport and Platinum models can’t be used as a foundation for the finished product.

At one point in his presentation, Billauer encouraged all of us present to pursue our dreams. He’s a living testament to hard work and perseverance. The mobility offered by the BraunAbility MXV Ford Explorer gives those who have endured setbacks similar to Billauer’s the chance to keep going down the path to their own happiness.

Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>

photo credit [Life Rolls On] and [Ford]

Derek Shiekhi contributes to a variety of Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including J-K Forum , Jaguar Forums, and 5 Series. He's also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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