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Transit Development Challenges

By Nor Cal Vans Team | April 08, 2015

Since the introduction of the Ford Transit to the US market, NorCal Vans has been working diligently to research and develop a new wheelchair accessible van that takes advantage of the Transit’s fantastic fuel economy and impressive driving experience. Throughout the development, complications with the new chassis have allowed NorCal Vans to implement innovative new designs and technologies to meet the rigorous quality and safety standards NorCal Vans strives for in every product.

Ford Transit Lowered Floor Modifications

  • Nor-Cal Vans will not be providing a lowered floor conversion on the new Ford Transit due to several Ford designated "No Drill or Weld” zones throughout the body, floor, and doors of the Transit.
  • These zones are areas that Ford does not want modified for a variety of reasons, ranging from wiring locations to the possibility of compromising the structural integrity of the vehicle. Altering these areas might cause damage and possibly void the Ford warranty. Because NorCal Vans is a Ford QVM, we strictly adhere to Ford's guidelines.
  • The Transit chassis also includes sections of high-strength boron steel used in the chassis to add durability to the body. Boron steel cannot be cut or drilled with standard equipment and the presence of boron steel limits the locations of aftermarket seats and wheelchair anchorage systems.

Seating and Securement

  • All OEM seating positions have integral lap/shoulder belts. There are no structural mounting points for shoulder belts or lap belts on the actual van; everything is contained within each seat.
  • Nor-Cal Vans has designed and tested their wheelchair securement systems and upper shoulder belt anchorages, as well as aftermarket fold-away seating and mounting to meet FMVSS standards. Learn more about our compliance testing.
  • Shoulder belt anchorage points were one of the most difficult challenges to design and pass compliance testing. Be aware that aftermarket shoulder belt anchorage points could fail if not installed correctly.

Wheelchair Lifts

  • All Ford Transit Wagons come standard with side curtain airbags down the length of the vehicle in compliance with FMVSS 226. These side-curtain airbags affect the installation of side-entry wheelchair lifts. Check with lift manufacturer for current information.
  • Ford recommends ordering the modified wiring prep package when adding electrical add-ons that draw more than 60 amps (For example, Braun’s standard circuit breaker is 75-amps).
  • Due to ground clearance issues, the Braun UVL (Under Vehicle Lift) will not be a wheelchair lift option on the Transit.

Electrical and Heating

  • The rear heating system of a Transit Wagon is ducted in the floor, with vent outlets under the rear OEM seats. The rear heater core/blower is located under the front passenger seat. If this floor system is removed, then the ductwork for the rear heater is removed as well. Nor-Cal Vans has designed a new system that reroutes the heat so it can be distributed more evenly throughout the passenger area.
  • The vehicle battery (or optional dual batteries) is located under the driver seat, along with body control module. B&D Independence has developed a Driver Transfer Seat for the Transit, but the battery will need to be relocated. Contact B&D Independence for further information.
  • Use caution when installing aftermarket back-up alarms and reverse cameras in Transits without towing prep packages. The tail lamp reverse circuits cannot support additional electrical loads (per Ford bulletin).

OEM Flooring

  • The Transit Wagon OEM floor consists of 1-1/4” of rigid foam underlayment, about ¼” of MDF-style wood, and a covering of carpet or vinyl. The OEM floor structure will not provide adequate support for the weight of a power wheelchair and complicates wheelchair tie-down anchorages and lift installs.

Choose Ford QVM

  • Due to the complexities associated with modifying the Ford Transit, we strongly urge you to purchase Transits upfitted ONLY by certified Ford Quality Vehicle Modifiers (QVMs). As a Ford QVM, NorCal Vans upfits retain the Ford Factory warranty in addition to NorCal Vans's 3yr/36,000 mile conversion warranty. Because Ford's QVM Program assists approved manufacturers in developing a high-quality conversion process, you can feel confident that the finished product will meet your high expectations of safety and reliability.


The Ford Transit is competitively priced and built in the USA. NorCal Vans offers custom upfit packages for the Ford Transit including the NCV Transit Bus, rear entry wheelchair lifts, multiple seating configurations, crew van seating, luggage bulkheads, and more. With over 20 years in the mobility industry, NorCal Vans is a Ford certified Quality Vehicle Modifier and Pool Account committed to service, quality, and innovation.

Learn more about NorCal Vans Ford Transit at www.norcalvans.com/ford-transit.

Posted in Ford Transit