QuadSki Looking To Build Momentum Into 2014

The Gibbs Sports Amphibians QuadSki, a vehicle that once seemed more like a prop for a James Bond movie than a real production unit, continues to defy expectations. Part ATV and part PWC, the versatile crossover powered by a 1.3-liter BMW engine can transition from land to water in a matter of seconds and achieve 45 mph speeds on both. We spoke with sales and marketing manager Dan Proffer, as well as personnel at several current QuadSki dealerships, to get their thoughts on the company’s transition from novelty product to legitimate powersports vehicle.

U.S. Production, Growing Dealer Base
Based in New Zealand, Gibbs set up shop in the U.S. with the purchase of a 54,000-square-foot production facility in Auburn Hills, Mich. According to Proffer, the U.S. facility plans to build 1,200 to 1,500 QuadSkis by the end of 2013.

The company’s goals for signing up dealerships are similarly optimistic. Proffer indicates the total number of dealers should be 12 by the end of July.

“We had been in prototype form for almost three years. We launched last October, and our plan all along has been to have 50 dealers by the end of 2013 and add another 50 in 2014, so we’re on track,” said Proffer.

Currently, that list is notably missing representation on the West Coast. According to Proffer, stricter regulations and a longer approval process by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are two reasons for this missing representation. Once that approval is received (estimated to be by late August), the company hopes to add a significant number of West Coast dealers to the mix.

Though some initial models from the company’s New Zealand HQ have been in two Florida dealerships since spring, the first units from the Auburn Hills production facility have just started to arrive at dealerships. Current dealers have found the demand is far outstripping the initial supply.

“Production and delivery just started in the last 30 days,” said Marty Skapik of Clearwater, Fla.’s Cycle Spring Powersports. “We had a large number of preorders that we are delivering this and next month.”

“They’ve been selling great,” agrees Rick Mori of Fort Worth’s Honda Kawasaki West, who said the dealership has sold all five crafts that have been delivered and is anxiously waiting for more. “We’ve sold everything we had here. It’s a great technology, and the engineering behind these things is incredible.”

Targeting The High-End … For Now

As to just who exactly is the QuadSki’s customer, both Proffer and the aforementioned dealers indicate the audience is skewing toward the higher end.

“According to our dealers, our biggest buyers right now are higher-end, affluent marine customers,” said Proffer. “We’re getting a lot of interest from the hunting crowd, but as of right now, it’s mainly your high-end marine guy. Not so much your everyday PWC guy because of the price, but more of the guy who has coastal property and needs a place to go from the coast out into the water up to his boat.”

Skapik echoes that characterization. “The typical buyers have been wealthy individuals buying them all over the country. We have sold them to everyone from NFL players to business owners. They’re buying them simply because it’s the coolest thing to come on the market in the last 20 years. It can do things that nothing else has ever done. The price tag limits the market, but we hope we can uncover additional sales through its unique capabilities.”

“It is fairly affluent people because of the price,” said Ron Setina of Wilmington’s Harborside Marina, “or they’re people who have an off-road vehicle and a PWC, and think, “Why not just incorporate it?” A typical situation would be a guy who lives on a lake, and he wants to go play out on the water as well as just take a ride through his acreage and enjoy the road capability of it.”

“It’s spread all over,” says Mori. “I had a guy who wanted one in Alaska, because to get to his property, he had to be able to go from land to water. Another local buyer lives on a lake, and he liked the idea of being able to go straight from his garage into the water.”

Future Plans
As for the future, Proffer won’t indicate what the company is working on. Rumors include two- and three-passenger models, even a three-wheel concept that could be more performance-oriented. “There are several concepts on the table right now, but as to what that could be I can’t say.”

Mori feels a more affordable price point is inevitable.

Setina also notes that the company’s promising start is almost wholly without advertising or publicity. Once the availability of such a craft becomes more widespread and consumers see the potential, he feels sales can truly push the craft beyond the current audience.

“It’s exciting, it really is,” said Setina. “When you’re traveling around the road near the marina at 45 mph and all of a sudden you come to a launch ramp, and you run into the water with it, push a little button and the wheels disappear, and within eight seconds you’re doing 45 mph on the water … that’s really something special.”

“The applications are endless,” sums up Skapik. “It’s going to take people to places that haven’t been accessible.”

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