In February, Gibbs Sports Amphibians, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., held a press conference in Detroit’s Renaissance Center to discuss the brand’s plans for 2014. Gibbs Sports is a division of Gibbs Amphibians, which was also in the news recently because of its plans to license some of its technology in building amphibious trucks. While the licensing deal had no application to the powersports market, it was interesting to see what the company has created from a technology standpoint.
Gibbs Amphibians develops High Speed Amphibian (HSA) technology platforms for consumer, commercial, humanitarian and military applications, and is a privately held company founded by Alan Gibbs and Neil Jenkins in 1999. It consists of two divisions – Gibbs Sports Amphibians, which designs and manufactures consumer sports amphibians such as the Quadski, and Gibbs Amphitrucks, which develops commercial amphibians for first responder, humanitarian and military use.
The Quadski has really created its own niche market outside of the traditional sectors. “The Quadski isn’t a PWC that can go on land. And, it’s not an ATV that can go on water – it’s both,” said Gibbs’ head of PR, Graham Jenkins. He said their vehicle is like comparing a smartphone to a cellphone because it can do so much more.
Gibbs’ plans call for doubling the number of U.S. dealers to about 50 by the end of the year. Currently, that number stands at 16 with 21 retail outlets. Jenkins said that Gibbs spent most of last year retooling the factory to handle the demand that is expected to come this year with domestic sales accounting for half of their target and the other half from international sales. The company is expecting to sell at least 1,500 units this year if everything goes to plan.
Currently, Gibbs is working to establish its international distribution network in major regions throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America. Along with its established network of dealers in the U.S, the company hopes to expand their domestic dealer base as well.
The Gibbs Quadski is the world’s first high-speed personal sports amphibian. It’s capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 mph on both land and water, and transitions between the two in five seconds or less. If you haven’t seen the Quadski yet, it includes the components of a PWC with water jets that are lighter and more compact than standard marine-industry jets, but it has a unique retractable suspension system so it can be driven on land and water. It is powered by a K1300 BMW Motorrad engine.
Viewers of the UK’s program, Top Gear, which has a cult-like following in the U.S. on BBC America, got to see the Quadski in action in a recent episode, which included the show’s host Jeremy Clarkson challenging co-host Richard Hammond to a race through Lake Como, Italy. Clarkson was on the Quadski while Hammond was driving the latest sportscar from Alfa Romeo called the 4C. You can watch the clip on our sister website, Speedville.com (http://tinyurl.com/o4pzwf6).
At $42,000 retail for a premium amphibious all-terrain vehicle, it may seem that Gibbs is way out of the range of the traditional ATV/PWC buyer. But the company doesn’t think so, pointing out the strong interest they’ve had for their concept which they believe will justify their plans for an expanded dealer network made up of traditional powersports dealers and non-traditional outlets.
“Consumer interest in the Quadski and our other high-speed amphibian products has been exceptionally strong from day one,” said founder Alan Gibbs. “We have as many as 23,000 visitors per day on our website, many of them from outside of the United States. As more people get the opportunity to see these high-speed amphibians in action, that interest will continue to grow.”
More information about Gibbs’ dealer opportunities and technology can be found at www.gibbssports.com.