AUBURN HILLS — The Gibbs Quadski, the world’s first high-speed sports amphibian, went into production at a new 54,000-square-foot assembly plant in Auburn Hills Tuesday.

The product of millions of research dollars and 15 years of development work at Gibbs Technologies and Gibbs Sports Amphibians, the $40,000 Quadski is capable of reaching speeds of 45 mph on both land and water and can transition between the two in about five seconds.

Company and local government officials took part in “job one” ceremonies at the plant which is expected to employ more than 200 people when operating at full capacity later next year.

Gibbs Sports Amphibians Chairman Neil Jenkins said the company plans to build approximately 1,000 Quadskis through October of next year. They initially will be sold at major powersports dealerships throughout the Midwest and eastern United States, in addition to locations in the Great Lakes region and along the Gulf Coast.

Jenkins pointed out that Gibbs has implemented a flexible manufacturing system at its Auburn Hills plant that will support the production of a range of high-speed-sports amphibian products in addition to the Quadski.

A core group of Gibbs manufacturing personnel, including members from the company’s engineering, manufacturing, purchasing and quality-control staffs, began work on the system more than four years ago.

“A primary objective was to create product designs and manufacturing processes that would allow a variety of vehicle types to flow off assembly lines at relatively low volumes,” explained Tina Shaheen, the company’s COO. “Today we have more than four new sports-amphibian products under development that can be assembled on two lines.”

The new Gibbs assembly plant at 50 Corporate Drive in Auburn Hills, features high ceilings, large open areas and docking facilities to handle supplier-built sub-assemblies — all requirements for the successful implementation of the company’s flexible manufacturing system.

“The complexity of our high-speed amphibian technology presented special challenges for the company’s manufacturing engineers,” Jenkins said. “They’ve been able to successfully incorporate highly complex amphibian systems and components into relatively simple modular designs that flow smoothly through basic assembly processes. The Gibbs Quadski is a quality product that has been specially designed for families and individuals who enjoy the outdoors, watersports, off-road travel, hunting and fishing. It offers premium powersports buyers a combination of power, comfort, versatility and freedom that has never been available before.”

Jenkins added that Quadski already has generated positive reviews from a variety of publications. The Associated Press predicted “Amphibious vehicles could soon be zooming out of James Bond’s garage — or pond — and into yours.” Time Magazine Online said “Zipping across terrain at 45 miles per hour, the Quadski cuts across the bay as fast as it can dig treadmarks in your backyard.”

ATV Illustrated reported “Whatever you are riding today we guarantee it can’t do what the Quadski can.” CNBC Online said “If you’ve ever daydreamed of being James Bond, here’s your chance to take that to the next level … for $40,000 you can ride, perhaps, the coolest vehicle on earth. It’s called the Quadski.”

Autoweek noted “The Quadski is to previous generations of amphibious all-terrain vehicles what the Aquada was to the slow, marginally buoyant Amphicar.” And Palm Beach Illustrated said “There are some things in life that just make you want to scream out: ‘I gotta have one!’ Just take one look at the awesome new Gibbs Quadski and can’t you just picture yourself blasting along the Intracoastal and heading out to the beach to frolic in the waves?”

The privately held business, founded by Alan Gibbs and Neil Jenkins, consists of two divisions — Gibbs Sports Amphibians Inc. which designs and manufactures consumer sports amphibians including the Quadski, and Gibbs Amphitrucks Inc., which builds commercial amphibians for first responder and military applications.

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