Friday, March 27, 2009

Fancy a drive and a sail - in the same vehicle?

A firm in Malta has introduced a coach that can do double duty - as a boat!

The brainchild of Scotsman George Smith, the aluminum 50-seater vehicle can glide on fresh or seawater.

Built in Malta, the metal has a corrosion barrier and the company claims the bus can withstand 3,500 hours of constant use without any adverse effects.

After a six-year development period, the AmphiCoaches are now on their way across the world, with the first boats already shipping out to Belfast and Budapest.

Managing director Steve Smith said: 'Since the first pictures of the AmphiCoach showed up on the Internet, interest has gone through the roof - out website visitors have gone up from 700 a month to more than two million, and we're getting inquiries for orders from companies wanting to 20 or more across the globe.

'We just need to be able to match the demand.'

As a coach, the vehicle can travel at normal road-speeds up to 70 mph. The excitement comes when it gets to water - the coach can simply drive into the sea where, with a flick of a switch and without stopping, the wheels retract into the hull and an air-piston begins powering the boat across the waves.

With the wheels out of the way, the coach is now the equivalent of a fully-fledged catamaran, with a stable base, with a cruising speed of six knots and a maximum of eight knots.

Mr Smith said: 'It's a seamless transition from road to water.

'Once at sea the steering wheel makes way for a joystick and there's no need for the vehicle to stop while the wheels lift and the jet propulsion takes over.

'The boat is well-weighted in the water and the passage is smoother than being in a boat of the equivalent size.'

Each of the vehicles costs £280,000 [about US $400,000] and Amphicoach say they can build 12 ship-shape roadsters every year.

There's more at the link. Here's a video from the manufacturers showing the coach/boat in operation.

What'll they think of next? A coach that drives, swims - and flies, perhaps?



GeorgeH said...

How long before someone makes a motorhome/houseboat out of one?

AaronE said...

probably not long.
Remind me of the "Duck-boat" tours here in Seattle....and other places. but with new hardware not WWII surplus stuff.