G’Day, my name is Lance and I’m the Chief Floor Sweeper at EarthCruiser Overland Vehicles. We started EarthCruiser in 2008 in sunny Queensland Australia. And the reason we did it was because we simply couldn’t find anything that was going to fit our needs. And fit our needs means that we wanted to have a decent bed, a decent shower, flush toilet, plenty of space. But we still want to have a fairly capable off-road vehicle. That was robust, wasn’t always overweight, we wanted to be able to put it in a shipping container. That was important to us. And there wasn’t anything that was just where we needed it to be. So what do you do if you can’t buy one, you make one. So we did. We’re currently standing in our truck which is called Alpha Omega. Which means the beginning and the end, all there was and all there ever will be. So this particular one has been to Asia. We’re packing it up shortly and it’s going to go from Budapest to just outside of Dakar. In Africa and we’ll be doing that shortly. Our customers aren’t typically looking for the biggest baddest truck. They have some very strong motivation to travel. And they want a vehicle they can travel in that’s going to be reliable, get there to where they want to be and back again. So really what people are buying from us is our experience. When we say customize, you know, can we have the sink there or shower in different spot? No, we don’t do that Simply because we kind of know what works and we’ve got enough experience. We know that the amount of work that goes into wiring the electronics and all the other jazz to make it all work So that pipe isn’t going to rub through that hose in the middle of somewhere and you’re going to have a camper flooded. Part of the reason…yeah it can fit in a container but that’s not the only reason. Do you think we couldn’t have made this bigger? Of course we could. Why don’t we? Because we don’t want to be that person who forces someone else in a difficult spot. We don’t want to be that person. And that doesn’t matter if it’s a little bush track, a village somewhere, it doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be that person. Could we make these so they have 500 liters of water? Of course we could. They’ve got 300 liters but could we make it a thousand? Of course we could. But do we want to go and take all that water from someone else because we are too inefficient in our systems? No. We’re not going to do that. That’s not how that works. How it works is that you take care of yourself, make sure the equipment works the way it is supposed to be working and you become very efficient in your systems. So your comfortable, you’re doing everything you want to do you’re having the showers you want to have but you are doing it efficiently so you’re not taking away from someone else. Make more friends that way. [Joe] How much of this is actually built in-house? 100 percent. We can fit the EarthCruiser on a different chassis depending on where it’s going to go in the world. The living quarters are all made here. That’s very important. [Joe] How capable is something like this off-road? Capable is somewhat subjective. The wheel track is identical to a Land Cruiser. The wheel base on this one is a little bit longer but still the overall length is under 22 feet long. I think you’d find that we’d go most places that a Land Cruiser would go. Bearing in mind that the physical size of it, it’s not that big as you know but they do surprise a lot of people. You know this is not a particularly difficult four wheel drive track or anything like that. We’re not rock crawling here, we’re traveling. This is not an unusual road you would find in lots of places. It’s not particularly hard. You’ll want to make sure the house and chassis are working together. You’ll notice how much the house moves independently of the cab. It’s made to do that so nothing breaks so that the movement doesn’t transfer to the cupboards so the door and drawers don’t open and all that fun stuff. We’re going to take all the biggest holes we can find. All we do and the only reason we exist is because we want to know what’s on the other side of that hill. We’re not scared to cross that creek and get back. It’s about getting there and making sure all your cupboards and stuff aren’t all over the floor. So you can keep operating and going one direction longer and further. What’s the biggest consideration when trying to figure out which chassis to use? Start with the end in mind. I’ll try and be brief but we had many choices in Australia with what chassis we wanted to use. You can read them off, you’ve got Mercedes Benz, MAN, UD, Hino, Fuso, Isuzu and a couple of others. All great trucks all make sense. Ultimately Fuso floated to the top. Not because they’ve got the biggest engine. Not because they’ve got the best four wheel drive. But it was because they are more known around the world. 70 countries is roughly the market for Fuso. Fuso’s parent company is Mercedes Benz. So what that means is that Fuso has a bigger footprint through the Mercedes Benz dealer network. If you wanted to spend more of your time in Europe, Australia, South Africa, the United States traveling. It would make sense to buy a more current model Fuso truck. Why? Because those countries have the mechanics, spare parts, etc. If you like to go into Asia like we do The new current engines were never sold in Asia and won’t be for another few years so we use an earlier model chassis. This particular model is an 05. 04-07 is basically the same creature. Because we like Asia and different parts of Africa, it made sense for us to build for our own truck an early model chassis. And this is where Fuso is really helpful. If you know where you want to go basically and service and all that stuff is important to you you can kind of pick the right chassis. So you’re still within that Mercedes Benz family so if you bust a windscreen you can get a windscren, door handle you can get a door handle. All that’s fine but if you need servicing, filters, etc You can go, okay, I think I’m going to spend most of my time in Asia, get an early one. If you think you’re going to spend most of your next five years in Europe, United States, Canada get a later one. So that’s kind of good, you can have those choices. How many details around a vehicle like this have been born out of your adventures? Constantly. Simple details like where to put the fridge. The vehicles we had seen, they had always put the fridge in the back. Which means that happens which means the fridge doesn’t live very long, which means the fridge gets shaken up. The fridge should be in the middle of the vehicle as much as you can. The sinks have two drains in them. There’s a reason for that because you’re not always straight. We live in this vehicle from time to time, does it smell like it’s been lived in? No. Why? Because we know how to get rid of water, we know which materials to use, we know how to make it easy to clean. The door. How big the door is determined by how far the stairs go out because you want to always make sure you can open the door and the stairs don’t go out and bump into a rock, a tree or the car parked next to you. Because you can’t always control the morons who want to park right beside you. That’s one more detail, you’ll notice you can still access the stairs, everything with the toilet in or out. Very much, every design question we have is all about the travel experience. How can we make it better for our customers, better for ourselves Make the vehicle, not maintenance free, but reduce the maintenance as much as practical. EarthCruiser side skirts all life up so that a mechanic can service then the way that their tools in a mechanical work shop. Rubbish bin comes out. That’s the check fuel if the stove didn’t start for any stupid reason. You can check to make sure it’s got fuel. This is not rocket science, this is really simple to us. I can pretty much pull an EarthCruiser apart with my leatherman. And that’s really, really important to us. If we wanted to for arguments sake access this plumbing. Yes, I’ve got four screws to undo, that drawer. This drawer set comes out but will stay in one piece, you do not need to empty it. And it will slide up there neatly and if I need to get to all that stuff I can. Of course the water pipes and all that sort of jazz are inside so it doesn’t freeze. The point is that the way we go about building things is because we’re mechanically minded in this little shop and we know that you want it easy to clean, you want to be able to maintain the thing and if you make it hard to do it’s less likely to get done. It’s a hot day outside, are you uncomfortable right now?
No it’s cool in here. Very cool.
Isn’t it amazing? It’s engineering, that’s all it is. It’s light and it’s bright and it’s not hot, therefore it also doesn’t get cold. Minus 27 C which is what we’ve gotten them down to. And very comfortable, t-shirt inside. And that’s with the pop top?
Yeah, exactly the same set up as this. The material we use is not normal canvas. As you can probably see you cannot see through it. Sometimes you can see through stuff but notice you can’t see through these. It’s actually a laminate. It’s white, black and white. One’s tensile, one’s for UV and the other one is just for a block out. But then on the inside we’ve got our screens and what happens is that if this was to be zipped up you can have the choice of a clear screen or you can have clear screen and the fly screen. So a few things happen. First, we have the Webasto Jewel Top heater that we have in these. It’s located underneath that seat. So it itself creates a lot of heat. You can have the heater going and the water heater going or one or the other. So we have a lot of radiant heat from that. The materials we use make sense. Once all this gets warmed it stays warm. The roof is concave convex. You can walk around on the roof if you want to. but we have 80 mil down to 40 mil in the center. Again thermal gap. So the actual shape as the heat goes up, you can watch on a thermal camera. It’s goes up and does this goes up and does this. We’ve started a summer intern program. We’ve got two kids in the morning, two in the afternoon and they spend some time with our engineers in the office designing something then the engineers might go and prototype that actual part. So they get to see what that looks like. Because a university education makes sense for a lot of people but it doesn’t make sense for everybody. And we also know that it’s great for the crew on the workshop floor because imparting knowledge is a very rewarding thing It’s a very powerful thing. And it’s good for the fellows on the floor doing it as well. What we want to do is to encourage kids to consider the trades as a possible really good way of making a living. I can personally say that it can take you around the world. This is a really big deal. If you’ve really thought about it and said this is the travel experience that’s making sense for us and we have no idea what that actually means but we really want to find out please just book some time. Because if you’re good enough to spend some time with us, we want to make sure we’ve got the time to spend with you. As you’ve probably seen it gets a bit busy around here from time to time. We’re not a big company but we do like to be organize and we do like people a fair go. So just give us an email, phone number whatever. And we’d love to spend some time with you. It’s just as important for us at the end of the conversation we can say you know what, this is a terrible idea for you guys. This is not going to work for you at all. Or not, both are the right answer. Sorry for all the road noise but I figured the best place to do this would be right in front of this thing. It’s Lance and Michelle’s personal vehicle We got to take it around Bend off-road but we didn’t do any rock climbing with it but we did take it down some pretty nasty washboard roads. This thing handles like a dream. I drove it. I love it. And I would love to do a full walk through of it but the problem is there are just so many features it would take us hours just to go through this vehicle and all of the innovations and the little details that they’ve put together. The water tank is inside, it’s all insulated. No dust is getting in from the roads because of the seals the put around all the doors. There’s that area for a shower as you walk into the rig. There’s a nice dining table, seats, very comfortable bed. Plenty of room for two. There’s so much room in here. There is a spare on the rear. And with that they’ve done with the suspension, the wheels, tires makes for a very comfortable ride. One thing that Lance said that I really like is everything they do on this is to help you go further. That was amazing. It’s fun to come, just look though the vehicle and tour the factory. But to actually be able to take one out, take it off road and see how it performs is really an eye opener to what something like this is capable of. Lance, thank you again so much for your time. If you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up. Subscribe if you haven’t already. If you want to see more videos like this, click the link above. Thanks for watching! Bye