October 15, 2012
Quadski Amphibious Vehicle Can Drive And Float
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
We wouldn´t expect suave superspy James Bond to ride an ATV, but if he did, we expect it would be one that could do the unexpected, such as being able to shoot rockets, fly or drive across the water. Those looking for such a vehicle will have to bring their own rockets and give up any hopes of getting airborne, but the Quadski will be able to let riders take their off-roading off land as this newly announced quad ATV can indeed float.
Designed and built by Michigan-based Gibbs Sports Amphibians, the Quadski is reportedly the first high-speed commercially available amphibious vehicle. It will reportedly go on sale in the United States by the end of this year for around $40,000 — so a super spy´s salary could be required to actually own one.
While the Quadski is the first commercially available vehicle of its kind, the concept has been one long in the making. Both the Americans and Germans introduced military vehicles that could drive on land and in the water during World War II. The American DUKW was a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was first designed in 1942. The German Volkswagen Schwimmwagen was a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle that still has the distinction of being the most numerous mass-produced amphibious car to date.
Alan Gibbs, the founder of Gibbs Sports Amphibians hopes that his Quadski will soon earn that distinction. The Quadski´s price — while seemingly high — probably could make it a possibility. Past attempts to introduce a vehicle that could hit the water as well as land tend to cost far more, with the German Amphicar from the early 1960s costing in excess of $200,000.
The Quadski also has speed on its side, as Gibbs has noted that this is the first land vehicle that can go more than 10 miles per hour in the water. It features a lightweight, fiberglass hull along with front wheels that rise mechanically when in the water, thus producing less drag than vehicles such as the DUKW or Schwimmwagen.
Gibbs founded his company 16 years ago after building his own amphibious car with the goal to produce one on a larger scale. Since that time the company has reportedly spent more than $200 million and built nine prototypes, while amassing more than 300 patents.
The company previously produced a three-seat vehicle dubbed the Aquada, which debuted in 2003. While that vehicle never actually went on sale — as the engine supplier went out of business and U.S. safety regulators refused to approve it for street use, the Aquada did make some waves. The vehicle could go up to 100 miles per hour on land, and 30 miles per hour in the water, and one was used by Virgin Group´s Richard Branson in 2004 when he set an amphibious vehicle speed record crossing the English Channel.
That record could likely be smashed by anyone daring enough to try riding a Quadski across the Channel to France, as it can hit speeds of 45 miles on land, and even travel at 45 miles per hour in the water.
The Quadski will be produced in Auburn Hills, Michigan at a factory that was a former Daewoo Group parts plant, just north of Detroit. The company has 100 employees now, and plans to produce up to 20 Quadskis per day when the plant reaches full operations with 150 employees.
The goal is to sell about 1,000 Quadskis in the first year, a goal that Gibbs notes could be hard to reach. But for those who want to ride on the water as well as on the land, this could be the ultimate toy for boys with a little extra cash to spend.