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VW Transporter 6.1 Crew Bus 4MOTION

The VW bus that ticks all the boxes to making dreams of independence come true; Tjorrie Kruger tells us why he loves the VW Transporter 6.1 Crew Bus 4MOTION.

As a businessman, property developer, farmer, father, husband and a C6/7 quadriplegic, the new Transporter 6.1 has made Tjorrie Kruger independent.

Tjorrie needed a vehicle with an automatic gear box; space for him to get in and out and manoeuvre inside the vehicle in his wheelchair; 4-wheel drive because he lives on a farm, and as a property developer he often needs to tackle rough and undeveloped roads.

His family loves travelling and exploring the country, and with two talented athletic kids that need to get to provincial competitions, a spacious vehicle was needed that can go anywhere and provides enough comfort for the whole family to travel long distances.

This is his second Transporter, and before this he drove a 4×4 bakkie. With the bakkie, he always needed someone to help him, so he felt that he was never fully independent. With the set-up that he has in the Transporter, he is able to get out and about without any assistance from anyone and can drive safely using hand controls. This completed his dream of independence.

Having been injured in a crash in 2002, the safety features of the vehicle were also an important consideration for him. The new Transporter 6.1 is still the original van that is well-known in the disability sector for its space, versatility and reliability, but now includes all the latest innovative driver technologies and safety features, some of which he can control using buttons on the multi-function steering wheel and therefore enables him to keep his hands on the steering wheel.

Vehicle features accommodates all his needs

So, let’s unpack Tjorrie’s needs as a quadriplegic driver and explore the features of the new Transporter 6.1 Crew Bus to find out why it works for him.

Internal Height and Flat Floor

Tjorrie’s height in his wheelchair is 138cm. The internal height of the Transporter is 139cm. He needs to duck his head coming through the door, but once inside, he fits.

To be able to move around inside, the vehicle must have a flat floor. Designed as a commercial vehicle, the Transporter has a flat floor from the rear door all the way to the front.

Adaptability of internal space

Tjorrie has removed the middle row of seats and the front passenger seat. This gives him the space he needs to move into the vehicle. He parks his wheelchair in the passenger position and then transfers across onto the driver’s seat.


Automatic or DSG Gearbox

 As a quadriplegic, Tjorrie needs to drive with hand controls therefore any vehicle he drives must have an automatic or DSG gearbox. The Transporter 6.1 has a dual clutch DSG gearbox. This enables Tjorrie to use the Chairman Industries hand controls. These were transferred from his previous Transporter, so he didn’t have to buy new hand controls. He has full function in his left hand therefore he has no difficulty pressing the button on the gear shift that is needed to move between the gear options. The position of the gear shift on the dashboard is a very comfortable position for a driver using hand controls.

Space To Access Driver’s Seat

Thanks to VW’s design of having the gear shift positioned on the dashboard, it does not get in the way of Tjorrie’s transfer between his wheelchair and the driver’s seat.

Access Into The Vehicle

A wheelchair lift can easily be fitted to either the rear door or side sliding door. Tjorrie uses the SWC lift which he was also able to transfer from his previous Transporter. This lifts him into/out of the vehicle in his wheelchair. The size of the opening of the side door is big enough to accommodate the wheelchair lift.


The 146kW model has powerful 4MOTION capabilities giving it robust off-road capabilities. It provides plenty of torque for tackling those off-road challenges with the option of using a Differential Lock and  the Hill Hold Assist.

Power Steering

The Transporter boasts an electromechanical, speed-sensitive power steering which is remarkably light for a vehicle of this size. Even as a quadriplegic, Tjorrie has no difficulty turning the steering wheel with one hand.

Cruise Control

For anyone driving with hand controls, the cruise control is an essential feature as it allows them to take their hands off the hand control and drive with two hands on the steering. It also provides an opportunity to rest the arm that controls the hand control, which is particularly important when driving long distances. The control buttons on the dashboard makes the cruise control easily accessed without having to take a hand off the steering wheel.

Rear Camera, Park Distance Control

Due to his quadriplegia, Tjorrie is unable to turn and look behind him when reversing. Therefore, the rear camera that gives an optimised view of the area behind the vehicle on the media system screen, and the Park Distance Control which gives an audible warning if the vehicle gets too close to an object, are essential features for assisting Tjorrie to see what is happening behind the vehicle.

Tyre Pressure Monitor and Assistance Systems

Jumping out the car to have a quick look at a tyre is not an option for anyone using a wheelchair.   Being able to check the tyre pressure while sitting in the driver’s seat is a huge plus. It provides an easy way to look after the tyres and ensure that they have optimal tyre pressure at all times. The system warns the driver if there are any deviations from the set pressure. This can save a lot of money on the wear and tear of the tyres.

The Assistance Systems, including the tyre pressure monitor, are controlled using the right-hand button panel on the multi-purpose steering wheel. This gives access to all the Assistance Systems, Audio, Telephone Answering, Vehicle Status Features and Driving Data.

Touch Screen Infotainment and Blue Tooth System

The Bluetooth Infotainment System connects automatically to the driver’s cell phone and all calls can be answered at the touch of the button. Calls can be made using voice recognition via the driver’s cell phone so there is no need to take hands off the steering wheel or even eyes off the road.

Rain Sensing Wipers

Once again, these features enable him to keep both hands on the steering and hand control at all times.

Flip Up Armrest On Driver’s Seat

The armrest helps to provide stability while Tjorrie is driving as he does not have any balance, and it provides elbow support to reduce fatigue in the shoulder.  With it being able to flip up, it’s easily placed out of the way when he needs to transfer across.

Safety features

Having been injured in a car crash already, Tjorrie understands the value of safety features in a car. The Transporter 6.1 is packed with state-of-the-art Driver Assistance Systems, which are more than just ‘nice to have’ for a quadriplegic driver. They include the following:

Crosswind Assist

This helps the driver remain in their lane by detecting if the vehicle veers out of the lane, caused by strong crosswinds. Crosswind Assist will automatically course-correct from a speed of 80 km/h, without the driver being aware.

A strong crosswind can even be difficult for able-bodied drivers to control in a large vehicle like the Transporter, so for any driver who only has one hand on the steering as the other hand is on the hand control, and even more so if it’s a quadriplegic with reduced shoulder strength, this feature adds massive safety value to any driver with a disability.

Driver Fatigue Detection

The vehicle users visual and audible warning signals to recommend that the driver takes a break as soon as it registers driving behaviour that indicates fatigue.

Post-Collision Braking System

The Transporter 6.1 features an advanced safety system that breaks automatically after a collision to prevent a second impact. After a short delay, the vehicle begins a phased braking action down to 9,66 km/h during which time the driver can take over at any point.

Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) and Traction Control Systems (TCS)

ESP improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding). When ESP detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter over steer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer.

Anti-Lock Braking System and Brake Assist (ABS)

The ABS prevent the wheels from locking up under heavy breaking situations therefore maintains manoeuvrability and control of the vehicle.

Twin Halogen Head Lights

Provides optimum visibility at night with excellent illumination to the sides and long-range.

Compliments his lifestyle

So not only does the Transporter 6.1 make Tjorrie a safer driver but it also compliments his lifestyle and provides the space that he needs.

He uses both a manual and power wheelchair depending on where he is going, and both chairs can be accommodated in the vehicle. Running a farm and being involved with multiple property developments, Tjorrie is a busy man and needs to get in and out of his car a number of times per day. This method that he uses where he transfers inside the vehicle is far more energy efficient than having to transfer from a wheelchair that is positioned outside of the vehicle next to the driver’s seat. He also does not need to load the wheelchair into the vehicle as it comes in with him on the wheelchair lift. This is the key to his independence.

It took Tjorrie many years to get to the point where he worked out the solution and found the perfect vehicle for his needs. His previous Transporter worked well for him, but the additions to the Transporter 6.1 was the perfect touch to give him the confidence and freedom that he was looking for.

Watch Tjorrie Kruger demonstrating all the features of the VW Transporter 6.1 Crew Bus 4MOTION.

Meet The Gentle Giant – Tyrone Pillay

As Tyrone Pillay, aka The Gentle Giant, prepares to start his impossible in Tokyo, Japan at the 2020 Summer Paralympics, we chat to him about his journey and how his preparations have been affected by the pandemic.

When Tyrone won a bronze medal in the men’s shot-put F42 event at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, he earned the nicknames, The Gentle Giant and The Showman. He also made Toyota extremely proud, having worked in the IT Department at Toyota for 15 years. Tyrone was the first person outside of Japan to receive an award from Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota Motor Corporation, for bringing the whole of the Toyota family, 350 000 people around the world, together in support of him during the 2016 Paralympic Games. This launched The Gentle Giant into the limelight, but it wasn’t an easy journey to get there.

He is furthermore inspired by Toyota’s Start Your Impossible campaign, which is an impassioned call to action that’s designed to create a more inclusive society. Start your Impossible is close to Tyrone’s heart as every single human being is encouraged to reach for and attain his or her personal best.


The start of his impossible journey

Tyrone grew up in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and was born with an incomplete left leg, equivalent of an above knee amputation. He started walking at 10 months when his family scraped all their savings together to buy him his first prosthetic leg.

By the age of three, his dream of wearing green and gold and representing his country formed and it took him 30 years to achieve it. At the age of 41, he is going to his second Paralympics.

“You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.”

Supportive family and a love for cricket

I have the most amazing parents ever, they helped me get to where I am. You can’t get to this level without support structures. My parents raised me to be good to people and treat them with respect.

My whole life has been about sport. I played cricket for 14 years and got to a point where I could bowl around 140km/hr. I was a good cricketer but was told I could never be selected for a team due to my disability. Hearing the words, “You will never be picked for an able-bodied sport” really hurt.

If I had been given the opportunity with cricket, who knows what I would have achieved? I still train alongside a lot of Protea players, they often ask me to bowl at them in the nets.

I qualified as a Level 2 cricket coach, but I think I’m not meant to coach because I can be too hard due to my passion. It breaks me if I don’t see the same passion in the kids. I can only work with people who show 100% dedication.

So, I had to find another sport where I could achieve my goal, and this is when I discovered athletics.

“I always look at the negative and try and turn it into a positive.”

Making mobility possible through Jumping Kids

I have such a desire to give kids an opportunity to be mobile because I know what it meant to me and how hard it was for my parents to afford the prosthetics.

Working with Jumping Kids (a non-profit organisation that provides access to lower limb prosthetic solutions to children living with amputations) has been the most rewarding thing in my life. I always wanted to be part of a project that can contribute to something greater. Winning a medal is great but how you measure without the medal is even better. I’m more passionate about the work with Jumping Kids than winning a medal.

Jumping Kids gives me an opportunity to create a legacy from the work that I do. Tomorrow I will be gone but the kids will continue. I never went to the Paralympic Games just to win a medal or to break records, I went to inspire and motivate people to achieve. If I achieve that then I feel that I have achieved something of value.

Achieving the impossible – the power of having a full crowd

Having no crowds at the SA National Championships, in Gqeberha, due to COVID didn’t affect me as we don’t have many crowds in SA anyway. I have never competed at a National Championship in front of a crowd apart from when my family and friends have come to watch.

When I go overseas that is different; I have competed in front of up to 70 000 people, so I know the feeling of competing in front of large crowds. I thrive off the crowds, having the presence of people screaming and cheering for me, just takes me to another level. This is where my nickname, The Showman, comes from, I just love being in front of people in that atmosphere.

If you look at my history of competing at SA Nationals, I’ve never thrown further than 12,70m. But when I compete overseas, I throw 13m like its nothing. I don’t push myself that hard in SA because I never feel that energy from the crowds, which is sad.

The uphill battle of being a disabled sportsman

These are things that need to change in the sport. We need to get people coming to watch. The more support we can get, the better our athletes will get.

We need to transform the Paralympic movement in SA. We have so little support, particularly in terms of sponsorship. The sport is going to die without spectators and financial backing. Our leadership needs to understand that we need to transform. We have to be able to reinvent ourselves, COVID has shown us that.

I have competed in able-bodied events in SA and people feel sorry for me. They come up to me after the event and say, “Oh, try harder next time, you will get there.”

There is no money or recognition in disabled sport. We need to make it a professional career, so the youngsters will stick to it. It’s really hard to have to work a 9-5 job and train and cover all the costs of training. I funded myself for seven years as I had a dream to get to the Paralympics. But there is only so much that you can do.

Our government needs to step up; they cut my funding in November 2019, just a few months before the Olympics. That was when I needed that support the most, but they just cut me off and stopped my funding. That made me want to stop and had a big effect on me mentally. Now suddenly, I have to use all my earnings to cover all my training costs. As disabled athletes, we get no money from any events that we attend, whereas able-bodied athletes get paid.

Impossible to train during lockdown

Not being able to train for six months was one of the hardest things.  I live in an apartment, so not being able to go outside as I don’t have a garden was really hard. I was getting really depressed after being so focussed on the Paralympic Games and now I didn’t even know if it was going to happen. I was not in a good space.

After the first five weeks, I was really negative and was even toying with the idea of calling it quits. I felt that I can’t do this anymore.  Nobody was helping us. We couldn’t get onto the track or into the gym. No federations or sporting bodies were helping or supporting us or saying that they need to get behind us athletes and support us.  That was one of the hardest things because nobody cared about us.  You win a medal, but nobody cares.

‘I’m like a solider that goes to war. When I get out there I give everything that I have got.’

Rebuilding the impossible

I was in a bad mental space and it was a challenge to get out of it. You start planning years in advance for a big event and there is so much mental adjustment that you have to do. There is a lot of planning around when to taper, how to prepare, and all of that but that all went out the window. I lost a lot of technical abilities in my throwing by losing six months of training.

Being a strong-minded person with the great support structures that I have around me, like my family and a great psychologist, we worked through everything and went back to the basics: focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t.

The sad part is that the athletes that I compete with, in Europe and other countries, had no restrictions so they were able to train. They were posting videos of them in the gym and throwing. This disheartened me as their performances just kept going up and we weren’t even allowed to train.

At the World Champs 2019, I came 7th and was in fairly good shape, so I thought that by 2020 I would be able to up my distance by about 1m and that would have easily taken me into getting a medal for SA. Then suddenly after lockdown, my competitors were coming out of nowhere and throwing way further than I could at World Champs. They weren’t even close to my distances at World Champs and now they are throwing way further than me. Plus, they had their coaches with them. My coach lives in Denmark so how was I supposed to get to him? We could only do video chats. So, that has given us a real disadvantage.

We were only allowed to start competing again at the end of 2020, my competitors were competing all the way through 2020. I could not get to any international competitions. It was such a knock to my mental preparation. These struggles were real. I am a guy that needs to compete because I need to measure myself against the other athletes.

I’ve been really good about COVID and have very little contact with other people. I go to the track and gym, and I only have contact with my trainer. My contact with my family has been limited because I don’t want to put them at risk, and we usually spend a lot of time together.

It has been super tough not being able to see my nephews and family members, especially my mom. It has been such a challenge because I’m a real people’s person. Since COVID, I feel as if I am really hardened now because I have so little interaction with people.  It’s like I’m living in a bubble.

Reinventing the impossible

I would lie if I said that I didn’t feel the pressure that comes with going to Japan, but I love the pressure, it’s what I thrive on. I turn the pressure into my motivation.

Toyota had bought a whole section of the stand just behind where I was going to throw. The mere fact that I was going be able to turn around and see an entire section of the crowd just for me, was just the most amazing thing. I had been visualising how awesome that would be looking up and having the whole stand supporting me. Then suddenly, that was ripped away.

So, now I’m reinventing, in the sense that I go into a training session, and I imagine the people around me. I get that feeling and understanding that visualisation of people in the crowd is how I jeer myself up. I did this at a competition in Pretoria recently and it felt so good. I visualised people were around me and screaming my name.  My aggression and energy started really coming out again.

There is word that spectators at the Paralympics won’t be allowed to scream and shout. So, it will be like the same thing as having an empty stadium and we will have to visualise the people screaming and shouting.

Usually, when I walk onto the field, I go out there waving my hands, calling the people. I have even learned Japanese so that I can talk to the people. In Rio, I learnt Portuguese. The crowds love it when we interact and talk to them. And now we can’t do that. I need to be careful not to get the spectators kicked out of the stadium for getting them to shout.

The Gentle Giant

I love being called The Gentle Giant, it makes me feel like The Hulk.  The gentle shy guy who is hesitant to come out but when he does then he just bursts out. That is exactly how I feel at the moment.

I can die today and say that I have achieved my goal. I have achieved everything that I ever wanted to achieve. It’s not about the age that you live to, it’s about how you lived your life. I have enjoyed my life.

As a kid, I always questioned why I had been born this way. I was mocked and bullied at school, and I always asked God if I had done something wrong. But then I found my purpose: to inspire and motivate people and everything became so much better.

That is my driving force, to show people that you can achieve anything you want. Like yesterday, I deadlifted 200kgs, no one-legged guy does 200kgs. Not even able-bodied people do. But the fact that I can shows that there are no excuses. It’s all in your mind. If you want to achieve something, then go out, put your mind towards it and do it. Most people don’t achieve their goals because they are too quick to make excuses. I don’t live on excuses; I just go there and give it 150 % every day.

At a point, people used to pull their kids away from me because they thought I was a plague. The more we educate people to understand the different types of disabilities, the better it will get. And it starts with me, if I can educate the world about what disability is, then things will get better.

Being a Toyota Ambassador

I love being a Toyota Ambassador as it gives me more leverage for how we can change things, especially for Jumping Kids. I’m not well-known in SA, but globally I get a lot of publicity, especially in America. They even named an ice-cream after me. At an event in America, they had huge pictures and billboards up of me. In SA, there is nothing.

I went to an event in Europe where Dr Johan van Zyl did a presentation. He used to be the CEO President of Toyota SA and then moved over to Europe. He told everyone about this little boy who used to stand outside his door to check that his connection worked when he had his 3am meetings. That was me, because I was the IT guy making sure that his system was working. It was so special to me when he acknowledged me.

“Paralympics has the ability to inspire the world.”

My Toyota Fortuna makes it all possible

I drive a Toyota Fortuna and I love the car. I’m a big guy, 185cm and 116kg, so the size of the vehicle suits me. It does everything for me. I have so much stuff that I carry around with me. I have two huge prosthetic legs that I use to compete, I have a running leg, my gym stuff, all my shot-puts that are over 6kg each. The Fortuna has the space for all of this. Plus, it’s a beautiful ride. The new spec Fortuna, they have done so well with it. The way the car rides, the performance is just phenomenal. They have upped their game so much. I’m going to be so sad when I have to give the Fortuna back at the end of my ambassadorship.

“This new Fortuna is just next level.”

While working for Toyota, I’ve always been blessed to be supplied with one of their cars, so I have driven nearly all of the Toyota range and I love all of them. Because it’s my left leg, I can drive any automatic car without any adaptations. My family has always driven Toyotas because my gran worked for them from 1960 and she refused to drive anything else.

Driving is possible

Mobility means freedom, choice, and opportunity. Driving gave me that independence and freedom. It’s exactly the same as getting a prosthetic leg. It allows you to be you and not be depending on anyone. I jump in my car and get everything done. I see my friends in wheelchairs and how much they struggle, and it makes me so grateful that I can just jump in the car and go.

I got my licence as soon as I turned 18. My father was very reluctant and wasn’t keen for me to drive so young but for me I just wanted to rush to get things done. My brother, who is four years older than me, only got his licence the week after me. When his sons ask him why I got my licence before he did, he says that you can’t keep Tyrone down, he is that guy that wants to go out there and achieve.

I realised how important driving is when it enabled me to go to university and when I got a job and was able to drive there. I have driven in nearly all the countries that I have gone to.

Impacting other people with disabilities

I have never made an impact on anyone’s life. The reason being that when I acknowledge that fact it means that I’m going to be content and won’t push myself harder to achieve greater things for the community. So, I tell myself that I haven’t impacted anyone until I die. That will be the time that I might acknowledge that I impacted people’s lives. But for now, it’s another driving force.

I see things differently from other people. For example, I did a charity event for Jumping Kids a few years ago and set myself a target of raising R1 000 000. I had to run up 500 steps and if I got sponsored for each step I could raise the million. But I only raised R850 000 and I was so disappointed and angry in myself. I hated the fact that I had not achieved my goal. I was gutted. The people around me encouraged me to look at the R850 000 that I had raised and acknowledge how many kids would be able to get prosthetic legs with that money. It’s a lesson that I’m still learning, to be less focused on the target and start enjoying the ride that comes with it.

Believe in the Impossible

To be honest, I don’t want aspiring athletes to want to be like me.  That’s a bad combination. When people reach out to me I always say, “Believe in your own dreams.” I was a dreamer, that nobody believed in. Not a single person believed that one day I was going to make it to this point. I look back at my journey and all that I have achieved, and I am wowed that I got to live everything that I had dreamed about. I dreamt about going onto the podium wearing green and gold, I got to see the SA flag being raised, a medal presented to me, having the honour of being the first South African Indian to win a medal.

Always believe in your dreams. When people broke me down and told me that it wasn’t possible, I have to be grateful to them because if they hadn’t told me that it wouldn’t have spurred me on to achieve what I have, and I wouldn’t be here today. Like the people who tormented me at school, I phoned them and thanked them for bullying me. They ask me what I mean. I tell them that if it weren’t for them bullying and pushing me down, I wouldn’t have picked myself up to where I have got to now. I am who I am because of them.

I showed people that no matter what they throw at me, I will come back 10 times harder. I will give it everything I have got. I’m proud of what I have achieved. I’m proud of the fact that I have followed my dreams.

“Always dream – I am living proof that you can live your dream every single day.”

Written by Caroline Rule

Toyota Fortuner – start your impossible

Pieter Badenhorst shares the many reasons why the Toyota Fortuner is the perfect vehicle for him.

Pieter is a family man who loves the outdoors, especially camping and hiking, and there is nothing more enjoyable for him than exploring local game reserves with his wife and kids. “With my family’s sense of adventure, I need a car that can take us anywhere we want to go, even if that means driving on rocky and bumpy terrain to get to our destination.” This is why the Toyota Fortuner is the perfect vehicle for him.

Family car: 7-seater Fortuner

Having driven a Toyota Hilux for many years, Pieter’s family are used to the 4×4 lifestyle. But as the family grew, so their needs started changing.

His children wanted to take friends along on holiday so he needed more seating space which led him to investigate the 7-seater Fortuner.

The comfort and safety of the Fortuner equals a happy family. The kids love travelling in the back row of seats where they have their own air-conditioner. Now, the journey is very much part of the adventure as the set destination.

Pieter loves the 4×4 capability and how comfortably it handles gravel roads. The ground clearance gives him peace of mind when exploring off-road, and it gives the added advantage of a higher driving position which enables him to see over the vehicles in front of him when sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in Gauteng.

Vehicle adaptations

When choosing a vehicle, Pieter needs to look beyond the capabilities of the vehicle since his right arm is amputated from below his elbow and his left arm through his shoulder due to an electrical accident as a child. Thus, he needs to adapt the car to enable him to drive it with one arm.

Many of the features of the Fortuner 2.8 GD6 4×4 AT make it possible for Pieter to access the vehicle with minimal adaptations. For driving, the only adaptations he has needed is an automatic car, along with a prosthesis which is attached to the steering wheel which enables him to control the steering with half an arm, and moving some of the secondary controls to the floor so that he can manage the indicators, wipers and lights using his left foot while his right leg controls the normal accelerator and brake pedals in an automatic car. The super-light hydraulic power steering facilitates the ease of Pieter’s driving.

His secondary control panel was designed by his father and an auto-electrician when he first started driving many years ago. This has been transferred between many models of vehicles that he has had over the years.

Each button activates a different control, including the left and right indicators, wipers, hooter and headlights. With the Fortuner, he has not needed to activate the headlight buttons as it has automatic lights which are light-sensitive and switch on and off automatically when needed.

Automatic gearbox and keyless entry

The Fortuner has several models available with an automatic gearbox. This opens the possibility for people with a variety of disabilities to drive it.

The gear shift is also perfect for people with limited hand function as it has a step design which does not require pushing in a button whilst putting it into gear. The gear lever is simply guided through the required pattern to achieve the desired gear.

The keyless entry and push button start that come standard on Pieter’s model of Fortuner are essential for him since he has no fingers to easily manage keys and open doors. If he has the key in his pocket when he comes near the vehicle, he can open the doors and start the car with a press of a button.

Power back door system

The rear door on any SUV can be a challenge for people with a variety of disabilities, or persons of short stature or those who have lower back pain. It’s generally a high and heavy door that needs to be pulled down to close.

The 4.0L and 2.8L models are equipped with a power back door system which provides a very functional solution. It has a back door closer button that needs to be pressed to close the door. The button can easily be set so that the rear door opens to a specific angle or opening height.

Pieter has set this so that it opens higher than his head. But, for a person of short stature or in a wheelchair, it can be set to enable them to reach the close button without any difficulty. The rear door can be opened and closed from inside the vehicle, off the wireless key or using a button.

Audio-visual navigation system

The Bluetooth system in the Fortuner comes standard across all models, while the 2.8L and 4.0L models also come with a touchscreen audio-visual navigation system. The multi-information display includes all the frequently checked trip information. The display doubles up as the rear camera screen, navigation system, cell phone information and call answering. All content can be controlled via easy access switches on the steering wheel.

Seating layout

The seating layout provides remarkably easy flexibility with the middle row of seats having a 60:40 split with a one-touch tumble slide.

Again, only needing to press one button, the seats fold-up creating space needed for camping or sports equipment. So, Pieter doesn’t need fingers to be able to rearrange the seating at the rear of the car.

The third row of seats have an equally clever one-touch design which can either free up space for luggage or create a row of seats for extra passengers. This is the “kid’s zone” where competition is rife; the winner gets the back row.

The 2.8 GD6 model includes power front seat adjustments while most other models have manual adjustments.  With a quick push of a button, this enables Pieter to reset to the seat position with ease after his wife has been driving.

For drivers with paralysed legs, this can make a huge difference as it can be extremely difficult to adjust the position of the driver’s seat without being able to push or pull with their legs.

Safety features

The Fortuner boasts more than its fair share of safety features, including the anti-lock braking system; brake assist; electronic brake force distribution; hill-assist control; traction control; vehicle stability control; trailer-sway control; and downhill-assist control as well as front airbags for both driver and passenger, and curtain and side airbags and knee airbags for the driver.


The Toyota Fortuner is currently available in 10 different derivatives, including petrol and diesel options; six speed manual and automatic; 2.4L, 2.7L, 2.8L, 4.0L, 2×4 or 4×4 with seven of these available with an automatic gearbox. Prices start from R505 600.

The torque of the 2.8L diesel motor gives plenty of muscle to tow Pieter’s 4×4 camping trailer with ease, producing 450Nm @1600-2400r/min and an unbraked towing capacity of 750kg.

Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is expected to be 8.5l/100km (without the trailer).

The new diesel engines have a smaller capacity with higher torque with Toyota’s new innovations translating into increased power with lower fuel consumption.

So, it’s no surprise that the Paralympic athlete, Pieter Badenhorst, is Toyota SA’s new brand ambassodor. He is a living example of Toyota’s slogan #Start Your Impossible.

Toyota Fortuner - Freedom of Mobility

Introducing Pieter Badenhorst – brand ambassador for Toyota South Africa

We get to know Pieter Badenhorst, a multiple Paralympic athlete and brand ambassador for Toyota South Africa, better.

“There is an abundance of opportunities out there. To find out what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at, you need to grab every opportunity that comes your way. The day will come when skill and satisfaction merge; this is priceless. And, remember even if you fail at something, you learn more from failing than winning and, most of all, at least you have tried.”

This is the advice from Pieter Badenhorst, who is a multiple Paralympic athlete and is now the brand ambassador for Toyota South Africa for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

About Pieter

At the age of five, Pieter lost his arms in an electricity accident where he tried to pick up power lines that had blown over in a storm, thinking they were ropes. He was severely burnt and had to have both arms amputated to save his life; his left arm was amputated through his shoulder and the right arm just below his elbow.

Pieter always loved sport. He tried out as many sports as he could, by participating in any way that he was possible. At a young age, his talent of running and jumping was discovered.

He participated in his first national championships at the age of 11.  At age 21, he won his first gold medal in the 400m TS3 and silver medal for the 200m TS3 at the 1992 Summer Paralympics held in Barcelona, Spain.

After competing in three Paralympic Games, Pieter then became involved in the management of the Paralympic team and attended three further Paralympic Games as part of team management, eventually becoming the Chef de Mission for the South African Paralympic team.

Toyota brand ambassador

As part of Pieter’s role as brand ambassador, he will run part of the torch relay race, where the Olympic torch will be carried around the whole of Japan, passed from athlete to athlete, with it arriving at the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Summer Paralympics.

Pieter has been working for Toyota for the last 25 years and is currently part of the team that trains their dealer network.

Two years ago, Toyota announced that they are the new Global Partner for the Olympic and Paralympic movement. This has given Pieter a great opportunity to be involved in creating awareness within Toyota SA around the needs of people with disabilities in South Africa. Toyota are leading the way in providing support to the disability sector on numerous levels.

Independent driver with peace of mind

Pieter feels privileged to be able to drive a car as it gives him freedom and independence. His advice to people with disabilities who are looking to purchase a vehicle is that: “You first need to establish what your needs are; and then match it with certain features and advantages of a specific vehicle. Do as much shopping around, if possible, and always test drive a new car.”

He goes on to say that if you want your car to enhance your quality of life as a person with a disability, then you need peace of mind. This is the reason he chooses vehicles that are trusted brands that can be relied on.

Apart from his working life, Pieter loves spending time with his wife and two children. They are avid campers, who enjoy being out in the African bush. This is one of the reasons that he chose the 4×4 Toyota Fortuner. It has no problem towing his camping trailer, and the 4×4 feature provides Pieter with confidence, knowing that his vehicle can get him out of any ‘muddy’ situations he finds himself in the bush.

How does the disability rebate apply to the Caddy?

When purchasing a new vehicle for a driver or passenger with a disability, they may qualify for the disability rebate. Caroline Rule helps us understand the process.

What is the disability rebate?

This is a rebate of the import duties of an imported vehicle that is allowed for persons with disabilities.  It is a significant saving and the intention is to assists with covering the costs of the adaptations that will be required.

It comes with a lot of red tape and paperwork, so it’s important to understand how the process works.

Process involved when purchasing a Caddy

Since the Caddy is such a popular and versatile vehicle for the disability sector, this article is a guide on the process that is involved when purchasing a Caddy.

The Caddy is a fully imported vehicle and therefore qualifies for the maximum rebate amount. In 2020, this percentage is approximately 15% of the retail value of the vehicle however this gets re-evaluated by SARS on an annual basis. Therefore, with an automatic Caddy costing between R450 000 – R530 000, the rebate amount or the saving which goes to the customer will be equal to approximately R75 000 – R80 000.

Step 1

Your starting point is to establish that the Caddy is the best vehicle for your requirements because as part of your application you will need to motivate why you want to purchase the imported Caddy and not a                  locally-made vehicle.

This is an easy motivation because the Caddy is perfect in so many ways for passengers with disabilities or people needing to transport a wheelchair. Aspects that you can include in your motivation (depending on your disability) are features such as:

  • It is available in automatic so can be adapted for hand controls or left foot pedal.
  • The seat height is perfect for standing transfers.
  • The internal space for transporting wheelchairs and equipment along with passengers.
  • It is one of the only vehicles in SA that has been certified to have the lowered floor conversion done and can be registered on the eNatis system with this conversion.

Contact your local dealer to get a quotation for the Caddy, a brochure demonstrating the features of the Caddy and a copy of the homologation certificate (certifying the product meets regulatory standards and specifications, such as safety and technical requirements) or homologation certification number.

Step 2

Next, you need to decide what adaptations you need to make in relation to your disability. Only certain adaptations qualify for the rebate and these can be for either a driver or a passenger with a disability.  The following adaptations qualify:

  • Hand controls, electronic controls, brake and accelerator pedal swapped around, brake and accelerator pedal extended.
  • The vehicle must be structurally adapted, such as lowering the floor of the vehicle.
  • Ramps or a platform lift to allow access into the vehicle.
  • Restraints to secure the wheelchair while being transported.
  • Railings that need to be fitted to the door and sides of the vehicle for the disabled person to hold onto.
  • Lifting devices, such as a hoist or Turny seat, to assist with lifting the disabled person into and out of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is fitted with medical equipment, such as oxygen, to allow a disabled person to be transported.
  • New products on the market may need to be specially motivated.
Turney seat
Restraint system
Electronic controls
Ramp with lowered floor
Hand controls
Lowered floor
Left foot accelerator pedal

Should somebody be able to drive an automatic car and only require a steering spinner; that is not considered an adaptation that would qualify for a rebate. It is important that the adaptation must be structural, so, for example, fitting only a wheelchair hoist to the vehicle would not be considered sufficient on its own. For more details go to auto-mobility/rebate-procedure/

Step 3

The rebate application documentation is available through the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD). (edwina@ncpd.org.za) or at auto-mobility.co.za/rebate-procedure/

Step 4

To qualify for the disability rebate, you need to prove your identity and that you have a disability. This will require a letter from your doctor or therapist as well as a visit to an adjudication panel who need to validate that you are in fact disabled.

This can be arranged through the NCPD when you lodge your application. Drivers need to include their license and passengers need to provide a declaration for a designated driver and include their ID.

The original documents need to be sent to NCPD (contact person Edwina Ludick – 011 452 2774, edwina@ncpd.org.za).

Private Bag X10041


82 Andries Pretorius Street
Eastleigh, Edenvale

NCPD has a fee of R500 for applications for vehicles up to R500 000 and R1000 for vehicle over R500 000.

Keep copies of all documents throughout this process.

Step 5

NCPD then lodge the application with the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC). Only once the individual has received their import permit back from ITAC, may they sign the offer to purchase.

The dealer then sends the purchase application to Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) who will identify a suitable vehicle in bond (i.e. a vehicle that has not yet been cleared by customs) or if no vehicle is available, will place an order for a new vehicle.

Once the new vehicle arrives at customs, VWSA issues a Customs Clearance notification related to that specific vehicle and the lodge a provisional payment with customs.

Customer with disability applies for permit through NCPD.

NCPD lodges application wtih ITAC.

ITAC issues permit to customer.
Customer submits ITAC permit to dealer and signs offer to purchse.
VWSA identifies vehicle in bond or places order to import.
ITAC issues permit to customer.
Once vehicle is ready to arrive at customs……
VWSA issues notification to Customs Clearnace on a specific unit for rebate application.
VWSA lodges provisional payment wtih customs.

The customer will be invoiced for the full amount of the vehicle (i.e. with the rebate amount included). Once the vehicle has been paid in full, it will be issued to the customer who then needs to take it to the conversion company to have the adaptations fitted. These must comply with the original quotation. The vehicle must be taken to the nearest SARS office within three months of the date of importation for the vehicle to be inspected.

The vehicle must be presented to the nearest controller of Customs and Excise for inspection, together with all the relevant documents used at the time of clearance, including a copy of the registration certificate and a copy of the provisional payment lodged to cover the duty.

A list of Customs and Excise offices is available at:  www.sars.gov.za. Enquiries can be made at SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277.

Customer recieves vehicle once full retail amount is paid.
Customer adapts vehicle as per original application to ITAC.
Customer presents the converted vehicle to the nearest customs office.
SARS issues a letter of certification.
Customer supplies SARS letter to dealer.
Customer presents the converted vehicle to the nearest customs office.

Once the vehicle is cleared, SARS will issue an official letter that the adaption of the vehicle qualifies for a rebate of duty. This must be given to the dealer so that VWSA can liquidate the provisional payment with customs and then this credit can be passed onto the customer via the dealer. This usually takes between 6-8 weeks for the refund to be cleared.

VWSA Liquidates provisional payment with customs.
VWSA passes credit to dealer.
Dealer passes credit to customer.

Here is a summary of steps 1 to 5

Step 1:

  • Choose your vehicle and be able to justify your choice.
  • Write motivation.
  • Get quotation, brochure and homologation certificate from dealer.

Step 2:

  • Decide on your adaptations and which company is going to fit these.
  • Get a written quotation.

Step 3:

  • Download and complete application forms.

Step 4:

  • Provide Doctor’s letter, copy of ID and driving licence/learner licence or declaration for designated driver.
  • Send documents to NCPD and pay lodging fee.
  • Visit adjudication.

Step 5:

  • Once the permit has been received, then sign the offer to purchase and give the permit to the dealer.

Why buy a Caddy?

…because it’s a comfortable drive?

…because of its versatile features?

…because of its dependability?

…because it offers many solutions to the different disability mobility needs?

For most people with a mobility impairment, the answer to this question is easy, it’s because of the ample loading space. As soon as any mobility equipment needs to be transported, whether it’s a wheelchair, scooter, commode, sporting gear, the space inside a vehicle becomes a critical part of the decision making  process.

For a small vehicle like the Caddy, the space on the inside is quite impressive! The added benefit of the space inside is that the floor is ultra-versatile, it’s flat and open which enables seats to be easily moved in and out, or folded, making the space ultra-usable!

  • Wheelchairs in rear space
  • Wheelchair in rear space
  • Seats folded up
  • Middle row of seats
  • Boot hoist without chair
  • Boot hoist with chair


The Caddy Crew Bus comes with a choice of a short or long wheelbase (Maxi), this provides the option of a 5 or 7 seater.  So, on that family outing there is space for everyone, granny, the dogs, wheelchair and more space to fit the walking frame at the back.

Transporting a wheelchair inside the vehicle is always preferential to transporting it on the roof or rack as it reduces the risk of it being stolen or damaged by dust and weather. For larger heavier wheelchairs, a Boot Hoist can be fitted to lift it into the vehicle.

Not many vehicles in this size range are available with this amount of space and come with the option of an automatic DSG gearbox. This opens up the possibility of adaptive driving with hand controls and adapted foot pedals, which has made the Caddy a firm favourite in the disability sector.

  • Hand controls
  • Left foot pedal

If you need to access a vehicle from a wheelchair:

The seat height of the driver and passenger seats is perfect for a standing transfer. With the height adjustments the seat height ranges from 0.63 – 0.71m off the ground. This makes it a fairly high transfer for a sitting transfer from a wheelchair which is usually around 0.52m.

For people with a weaker transfer, they may require a lifting platform for assistance onto the driver’s seat or a Turny seat into the passenger seat.

The rear door opening space is 1.1m high and wide, with a floor height of 0.58m. This can fit a small platform lift into the rear of the vehicle. With the internal height of 1.2m, this can only accommodate small people in wheelchairs and may require a lowered floor conversion with a ramp access from the rear for taller passengers. This conversion can be done by Shoprider, Advanced Vehicle Engineering, EZ Drive, Easy Drive Western Cape and Ronnie’s Automobility.

  • Standing transfer
  • Platform lift
  • Lowered floor
  • Lowered floor

If it’s comfort and convenience you are looking for:

For a vehicle that is well-recognised as a workhorsevan, it has remarkably comfortable seats and it has the smooth ride of a car, not a typical commercial vehicle. The panel van and crew bus have a very basic and minimalistic finish with no frills and fuss as this vehicle is expected to work, although you will be surprised by what Volkswagen have managed to pack into this commercial vehicle.

For a more luxury finish, the Trendline and Alltrack have generous lashings of comfort and convenience. From the climatic air-conditioning, heated driver’s seat(on the Alltrack model), lumbar support for the driver,            multi-function leather steering, cruise control and servotronic power steering to the composition media radio with touch screen and voice recognition and optional park distance control, rear camera and rain sensor wipers. The touch screen is set low on the dashboard, making it easy to reach for people with weak shoulders.

These features may be convenient for an abled-body driver, but for a driver with physical limitations, these extra features make a very big difference totheir ease of driving.

If you want a car for keeps:

The Caddy is here for the long-hall. It’s not one of those cars that needs to be sold as soon as the warranty runs out. The Caddy just keeps going and you can count on it to give you plenty miles of uncomplicated driving. If you are going to spend money on getting it adapted you know that it is designed to outlive the conversion. Reliability is one of its really valuable features when it comes to the responsibility of transporting a person with a disability.

If you have a family:

The short-wheel or long-wheel base (maxi) variants offer a 5 or 7 seater options, with lots of leg room, clever storage spaces, cup holders plus space for luggage at the rear.

And, if you are a camping family and need the torque to pull a caravan, the Trendline 2.0l TDI produces 320 NM @ 1750 – 2500 while the Alltrack 2.0TDI produces 250@a500-2500. This gives plenty of grunt to pull a caravan with ease.

If you want to manage your running costs:

Volkswagen give the option of a 1.0TSI petrol which produces 75kW power with an average consumption of around 5.6litres per 100km. The 2.0l DTI produces 81kW and has consumption ranging from 5.0 litres per 100kms on the open road to 6.9 litres per 100kms around town.

The new Caddy comes standard with a 3-year/60 000km Genuine AutoMotion Service Plan, 3-year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

So, Volkswagen seem to have a winner here that ticks so many boxes for drivers and passengers with disabilities. By keeping their design honest, dependable and uncomplicated it keeps the doors open for creative solutions and can accommodate a huge variety of needs.


Watch how the VW Caddy makes accessibility easy.


The versatility, size and comfort of a Volkswagen Transporter makes it the ultimate adaptive family vehicle, particularly when a family member requires the use of a wheelchair or scooter. It can be adapted to accommodate both drivers and passengers in their wheelchairs and still leaves enough space for the rest of the family. The level of safety that Volkswagen have built into this vehicle gives peace of mind to parents transporting their precious children and enhances the driving ability of any driver with a disability.

  • Volkswagen Transporter - The ultimate adaptive family vehicle.

Driving from the wheelchair – the ultimate independence 

‘Freedom’ is what Frank Juskievitz found in his Volkswagen Transporter. Life in a wheelchair did not slow Frank down for very long. But after years of transferring between a wheelchair and a car seat multiple times per day, Frank’s shoulders gave in and it became too painful to transfer. That meant that he could no longer get into or out of a car and his independence was shattered.

After months of searching for a solution of how to drive from his wheelchair, his breakthrough came when he discovered that a Transporter was available in automatic. With assistance from Volkswagen Commercial at Unitrans Motors in Alberton, they removed the driver’s seat from a demo vehicle and assisted him into the vehicle to check that he fitted under the steering wheel while sitting in his wheelchair. From there it was just a question of finding a conversion company that could pull together how he would access the vehicle, how to secure the wheelchair and fitting the hand controls. And, then began the fundraising.

Frank was fortunate to get support from Red Skins Golf Club and from friends, who assisted him with fundraising. His dream was slowly converted into a reality. His Transporter not only became his freedom and independence, but it opened possibilities for supporting other people with disabilities.

Being able to take himself to visit people without having to rely on someone else was worth every second of effort that he had put into his search for a solution. It also created the opportunity for him to take up scuba diving as the space in the vehicle allowed room from both passengers and scuba gear. At every opportunity, Frank and his Volkswagen Transporter will be found at Sodwana Bay.


For Frank to be able to drive without having to transfer himself in and out of the vehicle, he needed a lift to be fitted to the rear of the vehicle to give him independent access.

The rear door is opened and closed, via an actuator, which he can control by the push of a button. He had an aluminium floor lining fitted, which covers the stepwell on the passenger and driver’s doors so that his wheelchair wheels cannot fall into one of these gaps.

He removed the driver’s seat and fitted a docking station which secures his wheelchair when he is driving, and he had hand controls and a steering spinner fitted as he does not have enough grip in his hands to hold the steering wheel.

The position of the narrow console for the gear shift helps to create additional space for the wheelchair. He built a narrow holder which fits next to his wheelchair where he can store loose items.

  • Frank removed the driver’s seat and fitted a docking station which secures his wheelchair when he is driving.

Driving from a swivel seat  

After 14 years as a C5/6 quadriplegic, Hennie Greyling has perfected his range of wheels to give him full independence – a central drive Permobile wheelchair and a 4MOTION Volkswagen Transporter.

His job involves lots of driving on rough dirt roads, regularly visiting sugar cane farmers. He frequently does up to 10 transfers a day in and out of his vehicle, along with plenty of hours behind the wheel. He also started developing pain in his shoulders from all the transfers in and out of his previous sedan but when he discovered that a Volkswagen Transporter was available in automatic and in 4×4, he did not look back.

Since his wife also needs to drive their Transporter, he chose not to drive from the wheelchair but rather went for the 6-way swivel seat.

The features of the vehicle that were important to him were firstly, the space available in a Transporter, particularly the head height as he is a tall man. Although he needs to duck his head when moving through the doorway, he can sit comfortably inside and has enough headroom when transferring.

Secondly, the 4MOTION was essential for him as he needs a 4×4 for the environment that he lives, works and plays in. The ground clearance is higher than any other vehicle in this range and it is the only one with a 4×4 option. He uses the cruise control all the time when driving long distances; this reduces the need to constantly apply the accelerator/hand control.

The 6-way swivel seat is an aftermarket conversion, which is height adjustable and enables him to adjust the height in relation to his wheelchair so he can always do a downhill transfer. This gives him the edge on making the transfers easier than a flat transfer.

Watch how it only take Hennie 47 seconds to get behind the wheel! 

Hennie regularly needs to take extra passengers in his vehicle, so he had two flip-up seats fitted at the rear of the vehicle, which still allows him access when they are folded up.

Lets have a closer look at some more features the Volkswagen Transporter has to offer!