45 years of making a difference: a brief history of the Motability Scheme

In 1978, the first Motability Scheme customers were handed keys to their brand-new cars. Since then, the Scheme has provided more than 5.5 million cars, WAVs, scooters and powered wheelchairs – supporting people all over the UK.

In this article, we’re celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Motability Scheme by looking at its history and how it’s grown over the past few decades.

The creation of the Scheme

The Motability Scheme was started by the late Lord Goodman and Lord Sterling, to help disabled people and their families stay mobile. In 1977, Motability the Charity was established, to oversee the Motability Scheme. In the following year, Motability Operations was created to run the Scheme.

Since its early years, the Motability Scheme offered disabled people an affordable way to get around. The main focus of the Scheme was to provide car leases to people who were eligible for a government mobility allowance. There were a range of manufacturers and dealers who took part, including British Leyland (Rover), Chrysler (Peugeot), Ford and Vauxhall.

The Motability Scheme grew quickly over the 1980s and 1990s. From the first 10 customers who collected their keys in 1978, the word spread and more people across the UK decided to join the Scheme. By 1998, one million cars had been handed over to customers.

“We got our first car 21 years ago and it’s like joining an exclusive club – a Motability family. The Motability Scheme is there to help you and knowing that you’ve got back-up and you’re not on your own if a problem arises, gives you real peace of mind.”

– Allan, a Motability Scheme customer

A wider offering

Alongside the standard car leases, there have also been more mobility options available for customers over the years. As well as adaptations to help with driving, accessing your car and storing your equipment, the Scheme has also developed a wide offering of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs).

WAVs are vehicles that are specially converted so a wheelchair user can travel as a passenger or a driver. There are currently over 30,000 people who have a WAV on the Motability Scheme, that enables them to enjoy more freedom.

“For me, the Scheme means so much – even just the fact that it exists in the first place. It removes some of those barriers that are related to driving, and it allows me a lot more flexibility and independence.” 

– Tanvi, a Motability Scheme WAV customer

Expanding beyond cars

In 2010, Motability Operations took over the running of the Powered Wheelchair and Scooter Scheme, allowing customers to have access to the same level of worry-free mobility as the Car Scheme. Currently, there are over 20,000 people across the UK who have a scooter or powered wheelchair on the Motability Scheme.

“As soon as I tried my powered wheelchair, I felt in a world of comfort and safety. I didn’t have to tell someone where I wanted to go. I can definitely do things I couldn’t do before.”

– Ryan, a Motability Scheme customer

Keeping up with the future

In recent years, the Scheme has also kept up with advances in technology and changes in the world of motoring. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the rise of electric cars.

In 2013, we added our first-ever electric car to the Motability Scheme – the Nissan Leaf. Since then, we’ve increased our offering to provide a wide choice of electric cars and now also offer additional support for customers who choose to get an electric vehicle.

Along with the usual benefits of a standard car lease, we also offer a free standard home chargepoint installation for customers leasing their first electric car on the Scheme. This is just one of the many ways we are committed to helping our customers in the transition to electric vehicles, and making sure that no one is left behind.

“I’ve been on the Motability Scheme for over 21 years, and all my cars before have been petrol. This is my first electric car, and I’m very satisfied. Using my home chargepoint is much easier for me than driving to the petrol station.”

– Kevin, a Motability Scheme customer

The Motability Scheme is committed to supporting all of our customers. By providing you with worry-free mobility, we hope that you can enjoy greater everyday freedom.

What is the Motability Scheme?

The Motability Scheme offers an all-inclusive worry-free package that allows anyone in receipt of a qualifying mobility allowance to use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV).

Check if you’re eligible to join

Discover what’s available

Find a vehicle

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