Converting a car to meet the needs of the disabled: grants, conversion options and suitable vehicles

Anyone with a physical disability is often restricted in their mobility. Depending on the degree of disability, it may therefore be necessary to have a car converted for disabled access. Some conversions make driving more comfortable even with lower degrees of disability or at an older age. We tell you which subsidies are possible, which conversion options are available and which cars are particularly suitable for major conversions.

You can also save when buying a new car on carwow, because many manufacturers offer special disability discounts for people with disabilities. So the new car is already a little cheaper.

Which cars are suitable for conversion?

This question can not be answered in a general way, because it depends of course on the type and severity of the disability, which vehicle is most suitable. If the disability only slightly restricts mobility, a small car with a step or steering aid may be completely adequate. In some cases, the car does not need to be converted at all.

For people with walking disabilities who are dependent on a wheelchair, however, cars with a lot of space and the possibility of loading the wheelchair without any problems – i.e. vans or high-roof station wagons – are mainly suitable. In the following we have listed some vehicles that are particularly suitable for major conversions. On carwow you can configure the following models and also get information about the conversion at your preferred dealer:

Model Offers from
Opel Combo Life 19.114 € Compare offers
Opel Zafira Life 30.110 € Compare offers
Citroen Berlingo 17.090 € Compare offers
Ford Tourneo Connect 21.660 € Compare offers
Ford Grand Tourneo
23.098 € Compare offers
Ford Tourneo Courier 17.151 € Compare offers
Peugeot Rifter 19.700 € Compare offers
Renault Kangoo 19.408 € Compare offers

Who is entitled to a handicapped accessible car?

Basically, anyone who is physically limited can of course have their own car converted to suit the needs of the disabled. Older people who, for example, have difficulty getting in and out of the car can also increase their comfort by making small modifications and thus make their daily lives easier. In this case, however, there are also special cars that are very suitable for seniors.

But when it comes to subsidies or grants for vehicle conversion or purchase, the following requirements are necessary:

  1. The disability is not temporary
  2. The disabled person must be able to drive a vehicle
  3. The vehicle is necessary to reach the place of work or education
  4. There is at least a partial earning capacity in an employment relationship subject to social insurance (no mini-job)
  5. The income limit has been taken into account

Points 1 and 2 must usually be supported by an additional expert opinion, because a degree of disability of 100 and the mark AG are often required. Point 2 often requires an expert opinion in accordance with § 11 of the FeV (Driving License Ordinance) to ensure that the person concerned can meet the necessary requirements for driving a vehicle.

If all these conditions are met, you can ask a specialized company which modifications would be necessary or advisable in your individual case.

Subsidy for handicapped conversion

In order to enable physically disabled people to participate in social life and to perform a job, the state can grant a subsidy within the framework of the Motor Vehicle Assistance Ordinance (KfzHV). This supports people who cannot be expected to use public transport to reach their place of work. The big catch: in some cases the grant is income-dependent.

But the first thing to do is to distinguish between three different types of subsidies provided by the KfzHV:

1. Subsidy for the purchase of a car

The assessment amount is the purchase price of the car, whereby a maximum amount of 22.000 is applicable (from the date of application from 10.6.2021). Exceptions are possible if a more expensive vehicle is mandatory due to the severity of the disability.

Motor vehicle assistance for the purchase of a car is granted as a subsidy, based on net income. The following table shows the values applicable for 2021. There is an annual adjustment that you must take into account.

Monthly. Income
up to (net)
Subsidy in % of
Assessment amount
Own contribution
in %
1.320 € 100 22.000 € no own contribution
1.485 € 88 19.360 € 12
1.645 € 76 16.720 € 24
1.810 € 64 14.080 € 36
1.975 € 52 11.440 € 48
2.140 € 40 8.800 € 60
2.305 € 28 6.160 € 72
2.470 € 16 3.520 € 84
over 2.470 € no subsidy 100

The purchase of a car is subsidized up to a maximum amount of 22.000 € (only for applications as of June 2021!). If the price of the car is equal to this, and your income is correspondingly low, you will be paid for the entire car, so to speak. If not, it is a grant in the stated amount. However, this only concerns the vehicle price, costs for a conversion are not yet included here. In individual cases, the amount can also be higher, but you should clarify this individually when applying (at the statutory pension insurance, accident insurance or the employment agency).

If you have to support one or more family members with your income, an amount of currently €395 per dependent will be deducted from your net income. Your monthly net income is reduced accordingly, which results in the subsidy becoming higher. If an old vehicle is available, the market value of the vehicle must be taken into account. Here is an example:

Monthly net income 1.900 euros

One family member is maintained minus 395 euros
income to be considered 1.505 euros

Purchase price car (without additional equipment 28.000 Euro
for disability)

but not more than 22.000 euros

Market value of old vehicle minus 1.500 euros
Assessment amount 20.500 euros

Subsidy is 76 % of 20.500 euros 15.580 Euro
(rounded up to full 5 euros)

2. Allowance for conversion

If you already have a car but it is not modified according to your needs? In this case, you can also apply and the good thing is: the cost of a handicapped conversion is covered in full and regardless of income.

For an automatic transmission, up to 1.636 euros paid, for any other additional equipment it is up to 1.074 euros.

3. Subsidy for driving license

If a driver’s license is necessary, financial assistance can also be requested. However, this is again dependent on the net income. If the income is

  • up to 1.320 Euro, the driver’s license is paid in full
  • up to 1.810 euros, two thirds are taken over
  • up to 2.470 Euro, one third will be covered

Handicapped accessible modifications for the car

Depending on individual needs, there are a lot of options to make everyday driving easier for disabled persons. In the following we illustrate three conversion possibilities by way of example.

1. Tail starter

As a wheelchair user, you have the option of having a standard model converted or of adding a wheelchair user seat to it. If you are an affected person and do not want to drive yourself or have someone acting as a driver, a rear entry is an option. In this case, the disabled person can remain in the wheelchair during the journey and simply drives over a ramp into the trunk of the vehicle. There are the most different variants, with additional lowering of the vehicle up to the retractable ramp. The latter is convenient because you can use the trunk normally when you don’t need to transport a wheelchair at the time.

2. Entry aids

Entry aids are often installed because they are not only aimed at physically disabled people but also at older people who can no longer get in and out of the car so easily. There are different types of devices:

  • Transfer aid: You fold down an extra seat on the seat, reducing the distance caused by the sill of the vehicle. Both older people can get in and out of the car more easily and wheelchair users can get into the car and wheelchair more easily with this aid.
  • Swivel seat: A very comfortable device is the swivel seat. This turns out of the vehicle and comes to meet the user. Mostly these seats are used as passenger seats, because the seat needs space due to the turning movement, which it often does not have due to the steering wheel of the driver’s seat.
  • Lift seat: Probably the most practical boarding aid is the lift seat. This moves completely out of the vehicle, so that one can sit already outside of the car in the seat and drive together with this again back into the interior. Often there are also combined swivel and lift seats, which then combine the advantages of both devices.
  • passenger lift: For severely impaired or completely paralyzed persons, a passenger lift is particularly suitable, because the helpers are spared the effort of having to lift the disabled person into the car. The sling is placed around the back and over the thighs and is attached to a lifting arm in the passenger compartment. With the help of a remote control, the person can simply be lifted onto the car seat.

3. Driving and operating aids

Probably the simplest way to convert a vehicle for the disabled are driving and operating aids. Here, for example, there is the possibility to have a hand control (hand throttle) or steering aids installed, which make it possible to turn the wheel with one hand, in order to make driving easier for people with amputations or restrictions in leg movement. It is also possible to accelerate or brake by hand, but the car must of course have an automatic transmission.

As far as the cost of a conversion is concerned, no general answer can be given. A rough overview is however possible, according to that a swiveling seat lies with approx. 3.000 euros, a hand control system starts from 2.500 euros and for a rear entry you need at least 7.000 Euro.

Here you can find some more answers to questions about the handicapped accessible conversion of cars.

What does a conversion to hand throttle cost??

This can not be said in general, because there are not only different suppliers, but also different options to install a hand throttle. However, you should reckon with a few thousand euros in conversion costs.

How does a car with hand throttle work?

As mentioned, there are different hand throttle designs. Often there is a lever that must be turned clockwise in order to accelerate. If one wants to brake, one pushes the lever forward. The movements of the hand are transferred to the pedals.

How much does a handicap accessible car cost?

Depending on what disability is present and what conversion is therefore necessary, the cost can range from a few thousand to several tens of thousands of euros. These are sums that many people cannot afford, which is why most manufacturers grant discounts and subsidies are also possible.

Who pays for conversions for the disabled?

First of all, the persons concerned are responsible for their own safety. However, it is possible to apply for a grant in the form of motor vehicle assistance. However, not every affected person actually receives subsidies from this pot, because special requirements must be met.

Who gets motor vehicle assistance?

The following are some of the conditions that must be met to be eligible for motor vehicle assistance:

  • Disability is not temporary
  • Depend on a car to reach workplace
  • Job being done

Can I register my car to my disabled child?

Yes, registration of the car by the parents on the disabled child is possible. However, the car may then only be used for certain journeys undertaken for the child. For example, bringing or picking up your child from a facility.

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