Attorneys: New Classification Needed for High Speed Amphibians

Gibbs is taking orders for the Phibian, a 30-foot amphibian that is aimed at first responders.ARLINGTON, Va. – As Gibbs attempts to bring its products to market, a pair of attorneys are helping the company navigate issues with getting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow the amphibious vehicles to be sold in the U.S.

Andrea Campbell and Richard Penna were on hand for the public demonstration of the Gibbs Phibian Feb. 7 at Columbia Island Marina, which sits in the shadow of the Pentagon and just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capitol.

Penna said the key is getting the EPA to develop a new classification for what Gibbs calls High Speed Amphibians because classifying Gibbs’ products as boats or road-going vehicles doesn’t work.

“It’s a question of how it’s categorized,” Penna said.

Campbell said that the EPA already allows other amphibious vehicles, such as tour buses.

But Gibbs’ products are different because they are high speed on both land and water.

Gibbs has in the past run into trouble with U.S. government agencies because it can’t simultaneously meet regulations for boats and cars.

The Gibbs Humdinga is 21.5 feet and is designed to extremely difficult and remote terrain.

For example, Gibbs Chairman Neil Jenkins has said that a catalyst, which needs to operate at 900 degrees Celsius, is needed to meet EPA exhaust emissions regulations, but the U.S. Coast Guard requires the engine compartment to be at less than 100 degrees Celsius to reduce fire risks. One possible solution would be a two-stage exhaust, which would bypass the catalyst while on the water, but EPA has ruled against that option.

Jenkins said that the EPA has signed off on Phibian because it classifies it as a light truck, which has looser regulations than a passenger car. Gibbs’ Aquada sports car would be regulated as a passenger car.

“We have cleared things with the EPA and the Coast Guard,” Jenkins said. “We’re still working on the NHTSA side of things.”

Jenkins said he expects certification with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to be completed within 6 months.

Gibbs is taking orders for the Phibian, as well as the Humdinga II, a permanent four-wheel-drive vehicle. It expects to be able to deliver the first vehicles within 9 to 15 months.

Click here to read more about the Humdinga. Click here to read more about the Phibian.

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