GM Sinks, Aquada Swims

July 16, 2008
Gibbs Aquada

Gibbs Aquada

The news this week underscores just how difficult it is to survive in the tumultuous auto industry. Yet even as General Motors sinks, a small British startup is hoping to swim. Quite literally.

Regular readers might recall a couple stories I wrote early in the summer of 2007 about the Gibbs Aquada. The British-based company had developed a neat little prototype that could convert from car to sea cruiser in just 12 seconds, with little more than the push of a button.

It's been a bumpy year, as CEO Neil Jenkins has struggled to line up funding and get, if you'll allow us, his ducks in a row. And this week, if you'll allow another nautical pun, the State of Michigan pumps some wind in Aquada's sails, authorizing a 10-year, $5.9 million tax credit that will permit the firm to set up a new R&D facility that should eventually employ as many as 250.

Using a jet thruster somewhat like those you find in personal water craft, the Aquada will cruise at up to 35 mph. On land, its 175-horsepower V-6 will punch it up to 115 mph.

If all goes according to plan, Gibbs hopes to be building 1,000 Aquada a year, starting in 2010.

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