With vast numbers of people living in coastal areas and on waterways, it was only a matter of time before a car and a watercraft were combined. Four companies have tackled the challenge in four entirely different ways. The Gibbs Aquada is a high-speed amphibian, can top 160 kmh on land and 50 kmh on water, and takes six seconds to transform from sportscar to jetboat. Conceived for a waterside lifestyle such as Sydney, Cannes or Miami, the British-built Aquada is powered by a 175hp V6 engine with an auto transmission linked to the fully-enclosed jet propulsion system. Getting into the water is as simple as driving down a boatramp and pushing the button - the accelerator becomes the throttle and the jet propulsion takes over.
Fully legal in both environments, this slice of science fiction will set you back AUD$500,000.
The turbocharged Swiss Rinspeed Splash Amphibious Hydrofoil Sportscar is capable of 80 kmh on water and 200 kmh on land and will cost a lot more than the Aquada if it is commercialised.
Hydraulics turn the carbon-composite sports car into a hydrofoil by flipping the aerofoil so it becomes a hydrofoil and lowering a Z-drive with a 3-blade prop to its fully ‘standing’ position which whisks the Splash along some 60 cm above the water.
The drive height is variable, which guarantees immediate propulsion upon entering the water. To fully understand the transformation, read the full story (2167) and view the animations on gizmag.com.
NZ company Sealegs allows a small boat to be launched by driving from a storage location, down a ramp or beach and into the water without leaving the boat. The Sealegs motorised, retractable and steerable boat wheels offer a land speed of up to 10 kmh, so they’re not for the freeway.
The system is currently available on boats up to 6m and 750kg.
The wheels retract on the water, allowing it to be used normally.
When returning to land, the wheels are lowered in the water and the boat driven towards shore until the wheels touch the bottom and it can drive onto land.
Sealegs is ideal for those lucky enough to reside on the waterfront, and can also be used as a luxury yacht tender. The Sealegs system utilises all submersible components and is salt-water-ready.
Sealegs amphibious vehicles can drive straight from land into the water using high-torque, motorised wheels and 'legs' that retract when the craft is afloat. The New Zealand company recently unveiled designs for a new Rugged Amphibious Craft (RAC) targeting commercial, military and recreational applications which featues a 140hp inboard engine, jet drive and a solid aluminium hull.
The Phibicat is an ampihibious creature of a different ilk, offering military-strength, go-anywhere abilities and attributes which will not damage the environment - at 450kg, its six wheels exert a ground pressure of just 2 psi, compared with 7 psi for humans and 25 psi plus for 4wd vehicles.
Designed and built by Australian engineer Doug Waters, the Phibicat has three times the positive flotation needed, offering a level of safety bettered only by life-rafts and with well positioned multiple floats, it’s very stable in any conditions.
A 10 bhp air-cooled diesel drives all six wheels and an outboard can be lowered at the press of a button for additional go when on the water.