Made-in-Michigan: Quadski travels on land and water - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Made-in-Michigan: Quadski travels on land and water

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(11/21/12) - Production has started on a unique vehicle that could give a boost to the state's manufacturing industry. It's an all-terrain vehicle that converts to a watercraft in five seconds.
And it's made in Michigan.

Imagine driving on a dirt trail on an ATV when you come to a lake. Rather than circle around it, you just drive in, pull up the wheels and zip across the water. The vehicle that can do that is called a Quadski.

"That is a unique capability. It adds a different utility and a new sense of freedom," said Neil Jenkins, Gibbs Sports Amphibian chairman.

The first production Quadski was completed recently here at the Gibbs Sports Amphibian plant in Auburn Hills. The company hopes to build a thousand of them in the next year.

"We chose Michigan because we were looking for a fairly serious pool of talent," Jenkins said.

Gibbs needed engineers and technicians to get production moving, and the company performed a nationwide search for those experienced in composites.

"We were unable to find the skills anywhere else in the states," Jenkins said.

120 people work at Gibbs now, but more will be hired as production ramps up. Much of the material and components needed to build the Quadski come from southeast Michigan suppliers.

"We were very proud that Gibbs decided to come to Auburn Hills out of all the other locations they could have chosen," said Maureen Hammond, Auburn Hills mayor pro tem.

The Quadski is capable of doing 45 miles per hour on land and 45 miles per hour on the water. It's powered by a BMW motorcycle engine that can produce up to 140 horsepower.

"There were no amphibious products that could achieve more than a fast walking pace on water," said Jenkins.

Designers have made operating the Quadski fairly simple.

"It's a couple of minutes of training to know how the buttons work and then you're off," said Bryan Laviolette of and an amphibious vehicle enthusiast.

I drove one on some dirt trails and enjoyed it immensely. It accelerates quickly and handles well. When you're ready to use the Quadski as a personal watercraft, just drive in the water. Power is switched to an impeller and you scoot across the water.

"It's a great personal watercraft. It does a great job on land . It's really smooth. It has a lot of power, a lot of torque. It's just a lot of fun to drive," said Laviolette.

"It enables them to have use of a vehicle which doesn't have a boundary," said Jenkins.

Gibbs is in the process of setting up a dealer network. The first Quadskis --which will cost about $40,000-- will be sold in Florida, probably to hunters and those who love the outdoors.

"We've had a lot of interest from first responders up and down the country," Jenkins said.

The Department of Defense is looking at them too. Gibbs believes Quadskis will be popular in Michigan.

"I can't wait to get on one. I told my husband he's going to want one for his retirement property he's talking about in Michigan," said Hammond.

Gibbs is using the technology created for the Quadski to develop even bigger vehicles.

"The Humdinga is 22-feet long and carries seven people or three-quarters of a ton in payload," said Jenkins.

He said with a pool of talent that could take the Quadski from a drawing board to the woods and water, Michigan was the ideal place to locate.

For more information on the Quadski, click here.

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