This buggy is amphibious, and fast

This buggy is amphibious, and fast

This buggy is amphibious, and fast

The Quadski, which is a one-person all-terrain quadbike that doubles as a personal watercraft and is scheduled to go on sale in the US by the end of this years for around 40,000 US dollars (49,000 NZ dollars), is being billed by its makers as the first high-speed, commercially available amphibious vehicle.

Michigan-based Gibbs Sports Amphibians Inc hopes to sell the vehicle worldwide by 2014. The Quadksi is a one-person all-terrain vehicle with four wheels that can retract into the vehicle when it goes into the water and can go up to 72kmh on land and in water. It transitions from land to water mode in five seconds.

According to Gibbs, no other amphibious vehicle offered for sale has managed to go faster than 16kmh in the water.

The ideal customers for the quadski would be individuals and families who like hunting and fishing as well as first responders and military.

Until now, drivers might have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to retrofit a regular car and make it go - slowly - on water. The Quadski vehicle has better technology, and its price tag puts it within reach of far more customers.

The company also expects to make eight other personal watercraft.  With its all-terrain tyres and four-cylinder, BMW-supplied engine, the Quadski can drive up to 72 kilometres per hour on land. To take it into the water, the driver presses a button. In five seconds, the four wheels fold up and tuck into the sides.

“You just drive straight into the water, quite fast, and keep on going. It’s sort of magic,” quoted the founder of Gibbs Sports Amphibians, Alan Gibbs, as saying.

Gibbs, who has made everything from bras to television sets over a long career in New Zealand and the UK, launched Gibbs Sports Amphibians 16 years ago after building his own amphibious car and wondering if he could make it on a larger scale.  Since then, the company has spent US 200 million dollars (NZ 244.6 million dollars), built nine prototypes and amassed more than 300 patents.

“It seems so simple, but it’s really difficult,” Gibbs said.  The Quadski isn’t the Gibbs' first vehicle.  That honour belongs to the three-seat Aquada, which debuted in 2003 and goes 160 kmh on land and 50 kmh in the water.