Ricon: A Conversion Company Profile

Ricon was well known for its Activan line.   Many were based on the Dodge Grand Caravan.   Ricon would take fully loaded “Sport” models of the popular van and would then perform full conversions.

Ricon did things a bit differently, though.   They would take the minivan back to the Ricon plant where it was completely disassembled, customized and then rebuilt from the ground up.   The vehicles were then sold as new Activans, not as converted Grand Caravans.

The Activans were impressive.   They offered a full drop floor, sliding power doors, in-floor ramps, a suspension capable of kneeling, and just about anything else you could want in a wheelchair van.   The fact that the core of the minivan was the well-appointed Grand Caravan did not hurt anything, either.   When people bought a Ricon Activan, they were getting a true top of the line wheelchair van.

Today Ricon focuses its mobility efforts on DOT-approved buses and other public transportation products including “graffiti-proof” windows.   They make a point of producing handicap accessible buses and they also aggressively market the KlearVue wheelchair lift.

The KlearVue is a heavy-duty lift that finds its way onto public transportation and school buses on a regular basis.   It is a fully ADA-compliant lift that features a special folding platform and rollstops.   It runs smoothly and surprisingly quietly, as well.     The lift can handle up to 800 pounds and the come with a five-year warranty.   The KlearVue seems to be almost competitive with Braun’s Millennium line of lifts, the primary difference being the greater size of the KlearVue, which features a special folding platform to increase space.

While they do sell their commercial products under the Ricon name, they are actually now owned by the top mobility company in the US, Braun.   Braun bought out Ricon, just as they did another competitor, Independent Mobility Systems.   Those buyouts have helped solidify Braun as the undisputed king of conversion vans and handicapped accessible vehicles in the U.S.

Braun is still selling vehicles with the Activan nameplate.   The only difference, aside from being a significant update due to the passage of time, is that they are now Braun Activans instead of Ricon Activans.   If you have been an Activan fan, you can now buy from Braun without worrying about any compromise in quality.   They have done a good job of maintaining the Ricon tradition.

While the nameplate and ownership may have changed, there is very little indication that quality has suffered.   Braun continues to earn rave reviews for the Activan.   Meanwhile, Ricon’s business in the public transportation and lift niches seems to be thriving, as well.   From the outside, it would seem as though Braun made a wise decision by purchasing Ricon and expanding their penetration into new and potentially lucrative markets.

The “real” Ricon Activans are history and Ricon is no longer a consumer conversion company.   They are reputation and product quality were good enough to attract Braun, which now seems to be leveraging Ricon in the commercial market.