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Toyota Estima welcab

Reintroducing the Toyota Estima as an Inexpensive Disability Vehicle

Looking to buy a welcab imported from Japan?

We recommend exploring all the available options and then seeing if you can get away with an inexpensive Toyota Estima.

Here’s a few disability vehicles eligible for importation into Australia under the new scheme (starts from 1/07/2023 but most of these models are already approved and available) :

  • Toyota Aphard
  • Toyota Sienta
  • Toyota Ractis
  • Toyota Hiace
  • Toyota Voxy 80 series
  • Nissan Cube Z12
  • Nissan Elgrand E52

Ultra luxury Toyota Alphard/Vellfire is popular among Japanese families:

Toyota Alphard

so is a less fancier Toyota Voxy/Noah.

(It feels insanely premium in our Australian poverty pack MPV/welcab market):

Toyota Voxy

Both vehicles top the charts not just because of high quality and safety, but also due to their size and boxy design.

"Bricks on wheels” are so roomy that wheelchair height and width measurements aren’t crucial and it’s so much easier to get in and out for everyone.

Toyota Voxy 1

The Toyota Estima is a smaller vehicle in all respects…

Toyota Alphard

and as a rule, Estima welcab is fitted with a Toyota factory auto chair instead of a ramp.

Usually located in the middle row on the passenger side, an auto chair has a heavy base and is fully automated.

By pressing buttons either on a remote control or directly on the seat, you can make it move out of the door and then lower it to the ground.

Toyota factory auto chair

However, you can use a factory standard Toyota Estima with no ramp/seat in some situations.

Today I’m publishing a few thoughts & notes from my customer Terry, who purchased an Estima at the end of 2022 and generously shared his real-life experience on how it helped his family.

Firstly, please read his review on Google:

“Why a people mover?

My wife has permanent spinal and lung injuries.

A sedan was no longer meeting our requirements to transport oxygen equipment, wheel chairs and walkers.

SUV's were too much of a climb in and out and generally did not have the required ride.

Vehicles are becoming progressively wider which means difficulty getting my wife in and out at designated shopping and medical centre car spaces.

There is difficulty squeezing a disabled person with walking aids and oxygen equipment between parked cars.

The wide opening side sliding door is a bonus on a people mover.

I was shown a range of pristine vehicles. It was like a new car sales yard. It made choosing difficult.

I settled on a 2015 Pearl White Estima with black leather upholstery.

Pearl White Estima

The Estima is relatively compact, easy to enter and exit, good riding yet providing the carrying capacity we need.

Estima Compact

A big plus was the sliding centre console between the front seats.

Sliding it rearwards permits us to insert and secure my wife's portable oxygenator between the front seats.

It gives easy access to change the batteries, an hourly event.

Again a big plus when travelling on toll expressways.

Portable oxygenator

We are very happy with the Estima and the personal friendly service we received from Natalia. I am sure I will be back in the future. Distant future that is if the enduring reliability of Toyota products is anything to go by.

Thanks Natalia

And this an email from Terry where he shares his thoughts on wheelchairs and ramps. I’m not ready to take on this project now, yet I feel I should publish his ideas because they may help a lot of people.


Hi Natalia

Thanks for your reply.

There is a disability market out there needing to transport wheelchairs. A number with the severely immobile go for vans like the Toyota Hi -Ace where the person remains in the wheel chair and a ramp is built in the rear of the vehicle.

There are also people like us. We need to transport a wheelchair whilst my wife Eileen sits in the vehicle. seat. Perhaps on your website a photo of an electric wheelchair outside one of your vehicles and disassembled in the rear. I would suggest the Gilani one we have as it is very innovative yet easy to disassemble and transport. It may open up a new market.

Perhaps there would be a need to contact Gilani (14 Smithfield Rd Smithfield ph.8740 8963 in order to use their product on your website, I have seen a website selling ramps using the Gilani omnidirectional wheelchair. There may be some mutual advantage.

I have also seen a Citroen C4 Picasso in the Kincumber Shopping Centre Car park where an elderly gentlemen rides his mobility scooter tot the front passenger side door. He climbs into the Citroen. The wife then steers the mobility scooter to the rear of the Citroen. The wife then uses a remote control. The hatch opens, two arms stretch out of the rear of the vehicle. picks up the scooter and deposits in the rear of the vehicle. I find it fascinating to watch.

The Picasso is quite a small SUV yet is able to swallow the mobility scooter. Imagine what could be done with the Estima.

Sorry, I do not mean to tell you what you should do with your business. What attracted us to the Estima was its somewhat unique versatility in catering for the equipment we need to transport. yet a vehicle that my wife could easily climb in and out. . Just as important, the ride is car-like and not like a van. A somewhat unique combination with the Estima. I am sure others like us need this versatility.

Best Wishes

This is it, folks.

I hope this quick blog post will give you some insight into imported welcabs and help to make a decision in purchasing the right vehicle.

Your JDM addict

P.S. Want to know more? Feel free to Join my email list to stay connected + be in the know which vehicles are coming and which ones are going, which models are hot, and which are not and what’s happening in our import industry.

Here’s what else you’ll get in my weekly emails:

  • How to read auction reports and verify mileage with real life examples
  • Differences between the models
  • Hybrid or Petrol?
  • Why 7 seats may be preferable than 8
  • Anchor Points
  • And last but not least, what to expect from the new import law (from 1st of April 2023) and how it’s going to affect all of us.