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Addressing special needs

Freedom of movement for all: this is the guiding principle of Fiat Group’s Autonomy and Automobility programs.

Since 1995, the Fiat Group Automobiles' (FGA) Autonomy program has been providing technical solutions for people with reduced motor ability, which allow them to use any vehicle or commercial vehicle model (Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Jeep and Fiat Professional). It has also sponsored sports events and trend setting activities.  For individuals with disabilities, driving is one of the major steps toward independence. For this reason, Fiat Group designs and provides technical solutions to meet a variety of transportation needs, either  individual or collective. The best evidence of the Autonomy program’s effectiveness and appeal are the 1,000 people in 2013 who benefited from the services offered by the 19 Mobility Centers in Italy, as well as the number of Autonomy vehicles sold throughout the year in Europe and Brazil, totaling 18,770. This figure represented an increase of approximately 10% over 2012. The Mobility Centers are run jointly with local associations and rehabilitation centers, local health authorities and the Italian Traffic Authority.  They offer a whole range of services, from advice and assistance in dealing with the administrative, legal and technical aspects of the fitness-to-drive screening assessment, to providing information on how to get a driver's license and test driving the specially-equipped vehicles.

Our commitment is also reflected in the many sport initiatives we participate in through the Autonomy program, which seeks to dispel stereotypes and increase freedom of mobility for all. We are convinced that there is no such thing as "different" competitions, but only "different" skills, and that all athletes have the same desire to win and overcome any obstacle.

Since 2007, the Autonomy program has supported an exciting project called "Autonomy on the Snow," an alpine skiing beginners course for children with disabilities, organized by the Freewhite Ski Team at the Sestriere ski resort.

During the 2013 Italian leg of the "Para-Alpine Ski World Cup," the Autonomy program provided the event's organizers with a number of Fiat Ducatos adapted for transporting both the athletes and their sports equipment.

During the second "Off-Road on the Olympic and Paralympic Mountains" event, young people with disabilities were given the opportunity to experience close contact with nature in unique and breathtaking scenery. Jeep, the epitome of outdoor life, provided vehicles that allowed participants to experience adventure in the mountains and the great outdoors, and to independently and safely conquer nearly impassable off-road routes.

The Autonomy program and the Freewhite Ski Team share the same idea of sport, providing opportunities for people with disabilities to experience the mountains, whatever the season, to promote inclusion, and physical and social rehabilitation.

Also in 2013, the Autonomy Program took part in the event organized by the British Embassy in Rome that continued to carry the torch of the Paralympics after the highly popular 2012 Games in London. The event brought sports, technology and new abilities into the spotlight thanks to exhibitions, debates and meetings with athletes, experts and workers in related sectors. One of the workshops addressed access to transportation, placing emphasis on the work that the Autonomy Program has done, including association with leading companies in the industry of specialized mobility aids.

Another Group initiative designed to improve mobility and enhance vehicle accessibility is Chrysler Group’s Automobility program.  Automobility is a financial assistance program that was launched in 1987 to help customers with permanent disabilities get in and out of, and/or operate, a new vehicle. The program helps cover up to approximately €725 of the out-of-pocket expense for installing adaptive driver or passenger equipment on most Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or Fiat vehicles. It also helps customers locate assessment centers and vehicle modifiers or adaptive equipment installers to ensure new products meet their needs. Since 2000, Chrysler Group has provided approximately 89,000 Automobility Program customer assistance grants.

In 2013, Chrysler Group completed several initiatives to increase awareness of the opportunities available through its Automobility Program.  Automobility displays were created for auto shows in major markets across the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, to promote and better educate physically-challenged customers about the company’s product offering and financial commitment to the program. In addition, the Automobility displays were also featured at the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association in Orlando, Florida and the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialist in Columbus, Ohio.  Finally, to mark the National Mobility Awareness Month in May, the company, together with other sponsors, donated a new Dodge Grand Caravan to a local hero to help him overcome mobility challenges.