Gibbs Launches 30-foot Phibian High Speed Amphibian
The Gibbs Phibian skims across the water on the Potomac River with the Washington Monument rising in the background.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Gibbs has launched a new High Speed Amphibian that it says will revolutionize the way rescue crews are able to respond to disaster situations.
With a dramatic backdrop of the Pentagon at the Columbia Island Marina in Arlington, Va., Gibbs demonstrated the new amphibious vehicle, which is 30 feet long and can carry 15 people including a crew of three. It can travel at more than 30 mph on water and after a 5-second transition, travel at more than 80 mph on land.
“Natural disasters in recent memory, such as the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and elsewhere in Asia; as well as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, illustrate the need for amphibians as capable, versatile and efficient as Phibian,” Gibbs Technologies Chairman Neil Jenkins said.
The key to Gibbs' amphibians is the ability to transition seamlessly between land and water. When entering the water, the operator pushes a button preparing the amphibian for water entry. Once the vehicle determines that it has enough water depth to float, it raises the wheels and its ready to go on plane.
No price for the Phibian was announced.
The Phibian prototype features twin 250-horsepower marine diesel engines by Steyr. It features four-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive can also be selected depending on conditions. In water, it is propelled by twin water jets.
The military is interested in Gibbs’ amphibians. Technology for beach landing crafts hasn’t changed since World War II, Jenkins said.
Gibbs is taking orders for the Phibian, as well as the Humdinga II, which is a smaller five- to seven-seat vehicle that is aimed at the military, although it has not yet set prices. Jenkins did disclose that the Phibian would be built in the U.S., and said that the company has narrowed its choices for an assembly plant location to Michigan, Texas, Florida and the Carolinas. The Humdinga will be built in the United Kingdom where the company is based. Gibbs’ primary research and development office and U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The company plans to announce a production location for the Phibian with the next several weeks.
Gibbs Chairman Neil Jenkins introduces the company's Phibian High Speed Amphibian, which is aimed at first responders. "High Speed Amphibians are going to change the perception of what can be done in rescue situations," he said.
The Phibian is a true multi-continent effort. Jenkins said it was conceived in the U.S., engineered in New Zealand and will be manufactured in the U.S. with some materials supplied through the U.K.
Like its other High Speed Amphibian vehicles, the Phibian's wheels rotate into the wheel wells, allowing it to reach plane.
Gibbs gave demonstration rides on the Phibian to the media and dignitaries including the New Zealand ambassador to the U.S. Gibbs was founded by Alan Gibbs, a New Zealand industrialist.
The Phibian’s introduction was timed to precede the annual conference of the American Society of Naval Engineers, which is also this week. Gibbs officials were scheduled for meetings about its vehicles in connection with the conference.
The announcement of the Phibian came as a bit of a surprise because the company is also working on the planned launch of the Quadski amphibian, which is a single-seat cross between an all-terrain vehicle and a personal watercraft. The vehicle is capable of 45 mph on land and water. Gibbs has said that the often-delayed Quadski would go into limited production this summer.
Gibbs said that the Quadski would be the first model produced by a new division it is calling Sport Amphibians.
The Phibian is slightly longer than 30 feet and has a beam of 8 feet 4 inches.
The company also had one of its Aquada amphibious cars at the Phibian launch. That project is stuck on the back burner as Gibbs works to secure regulatory approval for it.
U.S. government approval for the Phibian has proven to be a little easier because it is classified as a light truck. Jenkins said that it expects that approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within the next six months. It expects to begin delivery of the Phibian in 9-15 months.
“We have cleared things with the EPA and the Coast Guard,” Jenkins said.
While the Phibian is targeted at first responders such as rescue crews and fire departments, Jenkins said it will be available for sale to the general public. The prototype shown in Arlington had what Gibbs calls a quarter cab, with seating for three people, but it can be ordered with no cab, half cab or full cab. The prototype’s deck has attachment points for a versatile range of uses.
Jenkins said the hull and superstructure of the Phibian are carbon fiber. It has a payload capacity of 3,307 pounds. See below for full specifications.
Like the rest of its products, the Phibian uses proprietary technology that allows it to seamlessly transition between land and water. The primary technology is a system that decouples the drive axles and allows the wheels to pivot into the wheel wells. Raising the wheels out of the water enables Gibbs’ amphibians to reach plane in the water.
The company has spent 15 years and 2 million man hours developing the HSA technology, investing $200 million into the project.
Amphibious vehicles can be the most important and useful tool search and rescue teams have at their disposal. Especially when time is of the essence and a person must be found immediately. Though these vehicles are most likely to be used by law enforcement or rescue organizations, you can find more information on parts and accessories at sites like SXS Headquarters
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Engine / Propulsion
||twin turbo diesels (land) with twin jet drives (water)
|Horsepower (hp / kW):
||500 / 368
|Water speed (mph):
||more than 30
||coil over springs and dampers
|Drive layout (land):
||FWD or RWD, selectable 4WD
Wheels and tires
||hydraulically operated disc brakes
|Overall length (ft / mm):
||30.22 / 9212
|Overall width: (ft / mm):
||8.3 / 2532
|Overall height: (ft / mm):
||11.98 / 3654
|Track width (ft / mm):
||6.95 / 2120
|Wheelbase (ft / mm):
||20.63 / 6289
|Approach angle (degrees):
|Departure angle (degrees):
|Ground clearance (in / mm):
||16 / 353
||three crew, 12 passengers
|Curb weight ( kg base):
|Payload (lb / kg):
||3307 / 1500