Making waves with the Manta amphibious three-wheeler concept


March 1, 2011

The Manta three-wheeler amphibious concept vehicle has an electric motor on each of the rear wheels, which can be rotated 90 degrees to provide propulsion in water

The Manta three-wheeler amphibious concept vehicle has an electric motor on each of the rear wheels, which can be rotated 90 degrees to provide propulsion in water

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Although I live by a river, I don't own a boat so am not faced with having to drag a trailer down to the water's edge and unload my dinghy every time I want to cross the great expanse. I might just be persuaded to spend more time on the water, though, if there was something like the Manta waiting outside my front door. The sporty-looking three-wheeler concept is designed to be run on twin electric motors, with the rear wheels taking care of propulsion on water as well as on the road. The design is amongst the entries chosen by this year's Michelin Challenge Design judges for display at a the recent North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

First launched in 2001, the Michelin Challenge Design was created by Michelin North America to spotlight creative thinking and innovative vehicle design. The first Challenge managed to attract just 125 entries, but this year there have been a record 970, and 34 of those were recently chosen by judges to be shown at the 2011 NAIAS.

The Manta, by Belgium's David Cardoso Loureiro, was amongst those chosen and has been designed for those who live near water but don't want to bother swapping vehicles for travel on water and land. Many amphibious vehicle examples already exist of course, but this three-wheeler concept is a little different. The single-occupancy vehicle is electrically-powered – although exact motor details are not mentioned – and the two rear wheels are designed to power the craft on land or on water.

Many modern cars sport wheels with covers/hubs that look like propeller blades, but the Manta wheels are actual blades. The wheels turn 90 degrees to provide propulsion for the craft when in water. It isn't clear whether this process would also be used to control direction on the water, as there is no rudder visible on the renderings, but each rear wheel would be independently-powered.

It's unlikely to achieve the kind of speeds or distance offered by the likes of the WaterCar Python, but could be just the thing for a short jaunt over to the other side of the lake, and beyond.

Would such a design actually work? Loureiro seems to think so, saying that his concept would be "relatively simple to make, it can be a low cost vehicle that gives the driver great driving sensations." What do you think?

Via Tuvie

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

The amphibious car isn\'t a new idea, having been around nearly as long as automobiles themselves. One nearly always ends up with a combination of a mediocre car and a mediocre boat. Past examples have had the disadvantage of having the body/hull made of stamped/welded/painted mild steel (e.g. WW2 amphibious Jeep, VW Schwimmwagen, \'60s Amphicar), so they were very prone to corrosion. The more recent Dutton Mariner used a fiberglass hull, but there wasn\'t much of a market for it, so it was never made in large numbers and was therefore expensive.

William Lanteigne

There was recently a amphibious vehicle on show here using tracks, snowmobilie fashion. That makes more sense in that there is less mechanical loss having to change wheel direction or geartrain to drive wheels or pump. Also this thing got around pretty quick entering the water at 40 mph and exiting at 20. Another thing is to enjoy being on the water I would prefer an open vehicle.


It looks really cool.


I want 2 of theses : one for me & ... one for me too... :-)

Ariel Dahan

If they can get rid of the rear tires completely and just use closely spaced springy prop tips as tires , it might work, otherwise sideways tires will be too much of a drag for any fun. BTW - I drove a Dutton that was for sale nearby several years ago, got more attention from other drivers on the road than a Lambo. Horribly slow in water, drag from tires hanging down , drag from large flat rectangular cooling tank for hydraulic fluid mounted under car. drag from engine coolant lines to rear radiator. Small underpowered jet unit driven by hydraulic pump on engine fan belt, connected / diconnected by some sort of \"dog\" shift. Would probably only go backwards in a mild current, dangerously slow in water. When we were leaving, an armed park ranger stoped us and told us not to come back since jet-drives & go-devils were not allowed in the park.

Dave B13

It shows creative thinking that could actually work but the efficiency and practicality remains to be seen.

Hovercraft are usually amphibious and they STILL have unresolved issues. Crosswind performance,

Such as: negotiating conflicting gradients, cost/maintenance/complexity, etc.

My advice to the designer is to build a toy, sell those and use the proceeds to build the full size version.

Unless, of course you can secure the funding to start working on it immediately.

Even then remote control scale modeling can often still reveal things computer models miss.

Nothing like the real thing, though,of course!

All the best, -g


I liked the "Tadpole" design of the "Landshark" better. Though having 2 screws in the water should make this one agile.

Ger Gallagher
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