Gowrings are well known as the UK’s original wheelchair accessible vehicle manufacturer. Commercial director, Lorraine Farnon, explains to DriveAble that, there’s still much more to come…

How has Gowrings remained at the top for so long?
We don’t tend to harp on about that too much because it’s what we did yesterday. It’s not that important really, it’s what we do today that matters.

But the one thing that we have been consistent with throughout that time, is putting the wheelchair passenger at the heart of our conversions. We place the wheelchair user as far forward as possible in the rear of the vehicle so they’re with the other passengers – especially if you’ve got young children, or if someone needs a carer, they need to be able to get to them quite quickly. So that’s really our focus.

Gowrings do a lot of home demonstrations…
Unlike most of our competitors, our demonstration drivers aren’t a sales team. They are drivers to go out and demonstrate the vehicle and assess how suitable it is for the customers’ needs. They tend to go out and test how the customer feels inside it and then go for a drive. A demonstration driver will usually have just one demo in a day. They’ll go and they’ll spend as much time as required.

They’ll be asking ‘How comfortable are you in this?’ or ‘Would you be more comfortable if you had more room here?’ – on the rare occasion, you go there and the wheelchair the customer is in is not the one that had been discussed and perhaps it’s too heavy, so it’s not safe. It’s sometimes difficult but we have an obligation to give sound safety advice.

Gowrings also have used and for hire WAV options don’t they?
There are three areas that are all equally important to Gowrings, that’s new vehicles that we manufacture and sell, used vehicles and hire. We buy back our own vehicles wherever possible. They go back through the factory, fully refurbed and they’re resold, with RAC approval (and another six months warranty).

When a customer rings in and says, I need a WAV it’s a good opportunity to suggest they hire one for a couple of weeks. People hire a WAV for a while and try it. That can work really well.

What’s new for 2020?
We continually seek new and exciting vehicles for conversion. Our all new Renault Master conversion will be launched early 2020. Generally, we’re featuring really strong vehicles in all the segments: small, medium and
the large – and manual and automatic, so more flexibility for the customer, and more choice.