The name alone is intriguing: Fat Truck. Add a muscular bulky appearance that supports the name, and you have the makings of a crowd generator at the recent Associated Equipment Distributors Summit in Orlando.
Owner Zeal Motor out of Bromont, Quebec, Canada, calls the Fat Truck “an industrial off-road utility vehicle specifically designed for the transportation of personnel and materials in difficult terrain.”
“It’s totally amphibious, it goes up a 35-degree hill and it travels 25 miles per hour,” says Amine Khimjee, Zeal Motor vice president sales and marketing. (For more specs, see the chart below.)
The joystick-steered unit currently comes in three versions: an 8-person crew cab, a pickup with a small dump bed, and a pickup with a box bed. The automatic tire inflation system responds to operator inputs. For instance, when an operator is in mud, he can press a button on the joystick and the tires will deflate to offer maximum traction. If the machine is traveling in water, the operator can press another button and the tires will inflate to maximum. Either person sitting in the two front seats can operate the vehicle since the joystick is positioned between them.
“This is an extreme low ground pressure tire,” Khimjee explains. “The pressure will never go higher than 4 psi.” This means the near 5,000-pound machine on has a ground pressure of 1 psi when the unit is empty and 1.6 psi when it is fully loaded. The four 1640x640x610 tires give users a combined 8,000 pounds of flotation.
Zeal’s three founders – Maxim O’Shaughnessy, Benoit Marleau and Khimjee – have a combined industrial vehicle experience of about 60 years, including stints at crawler carrier manufacturer Prinoth.
“We really don’t compete with crawler carriers because we’re a high-speed mover of people,” Khimjee says. “We bring the people to the work, but we don’t do the work.”
Production has started, with the anticipation of building 100 units this year.
Zeal is initially aiming the Fat Truck line at two markets: contractors who are working on powerlines, pipelines, telecommunications and wind farms; and emergency search and rescue services. In addition to the United States and Canada, the company is targeting Australia and the Scandinavian countries.
“We see dealers using this as a rental machine for contractors in those industries,” Khimjee says. In active dealer development now, Zeal plans to have one dealer in each state. With the crew cab unit selling for around $130,000 retail, “we anticipate that dealers can get $8,000 per month as a rental unit,” he says.
Calculating a three-year dealer fleet life at 60 percent use, Khimjee says the “rental revenue is quite high compared with construction equipment of the same value.” And after three years, the machines can be sold to hunters and other sports enthusiasts.
Zeal has established a manufacturing plant in Bromont and expects to employ 15 people within two years.