EarthCruiser gets EU certification

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Bend-made adventure vehicles meet European standards

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler

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EarthCruiser , the Bend-based maker of adventure vehicles, has partnered with a Swiss dealer to crack the European market, company founder Lance Gillies said Thursday.

A European Union certificate of conformity for EarthCruiser, which shows the vehicles meet EU standards, opened the door, he said.

“It opens up the market enormously.”

EarthCruisers already ply the roads, back roads and open terrain in 70 countries, Gillies said. With certification in Europe, he expects sales to continue growing.

“Business is absolutely fantastic; it’s incredible at the moment,” he said. “It’s not hard to understand why. We’ve been trained as a society for the past 20 years to plug in and now a lot of us are getting tired of that and unplugging.”

Off Road Accessoires SA, of Geneva, Switzerland, will sell EarthCruisers in Europe, Gillies said. The vehicles will be available soon in Europe, according to the Swiss company’s website.

Gillies said the EU certification includes compliance with vehicle safety standards, as well as standards for sustainable businesses. The EarthCruiser is built on a Mitsubishi Fuso truck chassis, a Japanese manufacturer with majority ownership held by Daimler AG, the German truck-maker. To obtain certification meant complying with vehicle standards for any part of the truck construction other than the chassis, which already meets EU standards.

“For a small manufacturer in Bend to attain that is no small thing,” Gillies said.

The price of a base model vehicle is about $170,000, he said. The EarthCruiser, however, can be customized to suit many purposes.

Equipped with solar panels, diesel water heater, water-purification unit and other features, the vehicles can operate for up to 10 days without additional power.

A prospective client is considering EarthCruiser to serve as a mobile surgical unit in developing countries. Mission to Heal, a nonprofit group based in Maryland with a focus on treating the poor and sick, is looking for as many as five customized vehicles to reach people in otherwise inaccessible parts of the world, Steve Vryhof, a board member for Mission to Heal, said Friday.

“Coincidentally, or not, providing surgical care to the 2 billion people who have no access has become huge on the world’s radar the last few months,” he wrote in a separate email. “The idea of the (mobile surgical unit) is to bring basic surgery to people too sick, too poor and too remote to access it in any way.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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