Did Quadski Production End Because of Loss of Engine or Declining Sales?
Gibbs Amphibians ended production of the Quadski in November 2015.
Gibbs Amphibians ended production of its in November 2015 because the engine was no longer available, but one dealer said the amphibious ATVs were becoming increasingly difficult to sell toward the end.
About 18 months before Gibbs ended production of the Quadski in November 2015, engine maker BMW told the company that it would no longer supply the 1.3-liter engine and 6-speed automatic transmissions for the amphibious ATV, Gibbs Chairman Neil Jenkins said.
BMW offered the replacement for the K1300 engine, but that engine is an inline six and there was no way to shoehorn it into the space occupied by the 1.3-liter four cylinder, which sits transversely under the Quadski's straddle seat.
BMW has ended production of the 1.3-liter four cylinder used in the Gibbs Quadski.
Jenkins added that Gibbs considered finding another powerplant, but all of the other options would have required too much to make them work in the Quadski's engine compartment. In addition, Jenkins said there is no other engine on the market with credentials similar to the BMW mill.
In three years of production, Jenkins said he thinks the Quadski showed that there is a market for a fast amphibious ATV like the Quadski. He added that most of the nearly 1,000 Quadskis built were sold for more than the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
But a Florida dealer said moving Quadski wasn't easy toward the end.
Dan Smith, watercraft sales manager for Cycle Springs in Clearwater, Fla., said the Quadski’s $42,000 starting price, a lack of marketing, and no factory financing made the fast amphibian a tough sell. He added that Gibbs’ website offered limited research options and dealers couldn’t afford to keep demo models on hand.
But the biggest problem was the price.
“If they could have made the product about $25,000, they would have been able to sell a bunch of them,” Smith said.
Jenkins said the company’s marketing studies confirm Smith’s view.
"At $25,000 or less, the volumes were huge," Jenkins said. Jenkins said an established manufacturer working with economies of scale could easily produce a vehicle using the Quadski's High Speed Amphibian technology for that price. In fact, Jenkins has said previously that the company's HSA technology could be added to a vehicle for as little as a 15 percent premium.
"It's such a good idea and a good product," Jenkins said. "You can't keep all those things down."
Gibbs has long said that it doesn't want to be in the manufacturing business, preferring to license its technology to established manufacturers. To that end, the company is working on potential licensing deals with companies that are interested in technology shown in the Quadski. Jenkins added that the company wasn't ready to license the technology to a powersports manufacturer until about 18 months ago.
Additionally, Jenkins said the public has reacted favorably to three concepts – the Biski scooter, three-wheel Triski and Terraquad side-by-side – that Gibbs showed at AIMExpo in October 2015. For example, within a week of its debut, the Biski webpage had generated 25 million hits, he said.