Sunday, June 8, 2014

Made in Bend — for delivery to Mongolia

Employees, above, assemble the first Bend-made EarthCruiser EXP slated for export — to Mongolia — on the production line.

EarthCruiser USA delivered its first EXP, to a U.S. customer, about two months ago, owner Lance Gillies, right, said Friday. The plant on American Lane has two or three in production now at any given time.

“We’d like to get to the point where we’ve got 50 in production,” he said. “But that might take a while.”

The company builds EarthCruiser EXPs, which are priced on average at $210,000, to cross deserts and travel on washboard roads, or through places without roads. 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.

EarthCruisers will work well on fishing or mountain biking trips, Gillies said. As an expeditionary vehicle, however, it’s also used by companies scouting natural resources and others who need to work in remote locations.

“It’s not just for recreation,” he said. “It’s for commercial applications as well.”

An Australian, Gillies originally founded EarthCruiser Overland Vehicles in Queensland, in 2009. He and his wife, Michelle, moved to Oregon several years ago to be closer to her family.

He registered the business in Oregon in December 2011, and began preparing for production in Bend.

All the components are made in Bend or Portland, he said, and the Bend plant currently employs eight people.

“It’s been an amazing adventure,” he said.

— Tim Doran

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