Transporting personnel on job sites can be challenging, particularly in harsh environments. While pickup trucks and even buses are commonly used, these vehicles are often not able to traverse difficult terrain. To overcome this, Zeal Motor Inc. has developed the Fat Truck Industrial Off-Road Utility Vehicles. “Everybody has pickups and the Fat Truck is really an extension; where the pickup stops the Fat Truck continues,” explains Amine Khimjee, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and co-founder of Zeal Motor.
The all-terrain, amphibious vehicles can carry up to eight people or a payload of material weighing up to 2,200 lbs. (997.9 kg). They are ISO 3471 ROPS (rollover protection structure) certified to ensure safety on any job site. He says target applications for the Fat Truck are pipelines, power utilities, wind farms and military; secondary markets include mining and search and rescue applications.
In 2019, the company introduced its first model the Fat Truck 2.8 C which is powered by a Cat 2.2 L Tier 4 Final engine. With a power rating of 67 hp (50 kW), the engine features a compact design and low fuel consumption, which Khimjee says were among the reasons it chose the Caterpillar engine. The compact design of the engine was particularly important due to the overall design of the vehicle which required its power source be mounted in the center of the machine. While this helps to keep the machine stable, it also meant space allotted for the engine was limited.
The company also wanted to use a known and respected engine brand that had good global support, says Khimjee, which is another reason Zeal Motor chose to use a Caterpillar engine for the Fat Truck.
Designed to transport with ease
The Fat Truck 2.8 C is able to easily maneuver through difficult terrain due in part to its unique tire design and drive system. The 5 ft. (1.52 m) high tires are low pressure—1-5 psi (0.07-0.34 bar)—paddle wheels which can travel over any obstacle and not be punctured at speeds up to 25 mph (40.23 kph). An automatic tire inflation system allows operators to control tire pressure from within the cab to adjust it as needed based on the terrain.
An automatic, hydrostatic transmission provides independent control of each side of the vehicle, says Khimjee. There are two pumps and two motors connected to a propeller system with carbon belts that give power to the wheels. “It’s like having two transmissions in one vehicle,” he says. “So one transmission for one side and one for the other side.”
With this system, as well as placement of the steering joystick and display console in the center of the cab, operators can control the vehicle from either the left or right side. This adds to the versatility of the vehicle and comfort for operators.
The Fat Truck 2.8 C weighs just 6,000 lbs. (2,721.6 kg) which allows it to be towed behind a pickup and without any permits, easing transport from one job site to another. This was achieved by using aluminum for the top structure. To ensure durability, the bottom structure is made from a steel similar to the type used for excavators.
Khimjee says the machine only puts 1.6 psi (0.11 bar) onto the ground—humans are around 10 psi (0.69 bar)—which helps to protect sensitive terrain and ensure optimal traction. The Fat Truck is able to float even when filled to capacity, further aiding with customers’ safety and productivity.
Also aiding productivity is the low maintenance of the vehicle, including the engine. Oil changes are required once every 500 hours, and there are no greasing points on the vehicle. Everything is designed to be watertight, so all components are protected from the harsh environments in which the vehicle operates.
Low fuel consumption of the Cat engine, as well as the lower overall weight of the vehicle, helps to reduce fuel costs for customers. Khimjee says the engine uses about 1.1-1.5 gph (4.16-5.68 lph); combined with the 18 gal. (68.14 L) fuel tank, customers could get a full day or even two of work out of the vehicle before refueling.
Several options are available for the Fat Truck which allow customers to customize the vehicle to their application needs.