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EarthCruiser announced last Fall that it would begin building its self-contained, go-anywhere, ship-anywhere trucks in the U.S., and this week the first one is ready for delivery.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the EarthCruiser is a highly capable, 4×4 expedition vehicle. The idea is that you can drive it to a remote place, pop the top, and be self sufficient. It can draw water from a stream, purify it, heat it (via the Webasto diesel heater), store it, and deliver it to you via the sink or the indoor or outdoor shower. The heater will also heat the insulated interior. There’s a stove, a fridge, even a queen-size bed.

With a little help from the solar panels topping up the house batteries, you can stay in a spot for up to ten days without running the engine. On the other hand, if you need to leave in a hurry, you can lower the top from inside the cabin and be on your way in minutes.

The EarthCruiser is built on the Mitsubishi Fuso light truck chassis. Power comes from an intercooled, 4-cylinder turbodiesel. This DOHC, 16-valve powerplant will produce 295 lb.-ft. of grunt at just 1,300 rpm. A six-speed, dual-clutch, automated manual transmission handles gear selection for you. The 4×4 system consists of manually locking hubs and single-speed transfer case. There’s no center diff. While you might have wished for a two-speed transfer case, EarthCruiser assured us that first gear is pretty low and will get you through just about anything.

Additional gear such as A/C, a winch, an extra fuel tank, driving lights, and a few other things, can be fitted at your request, although it’s ready to go in standard trim at $215,000. Give them a call. They’d be happy to build you one.

For more photos from Earthcruiser, and from our recent trip to Earthcruiser’s Facility in Bend, Oregon, see the rest of the post.

Links:
EarthcruiserUSA
Previous Earthcruiser post on WCXC

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I came across this nice little Mitusbishi Canter (Fuso) 4×4 firetruck on Saltspring Island a couple of weeks ago. This is same chassis that the Earthcruiser is built on. Sweet little truck. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re back from following the footsteps of Mark Twain through the eastern Sierras (more on that in future posts). After having set the tent up for the fourth night in a row, the conversation turned to self contained 4-wheel-drive camping vehicles. The VW Westfalia Synchro came up. Only about 1500 of these rare, 4×4 campers were sent to the US between 1986 and 1991 and prices have risen into the $40k–$50k range for clean examples and into the $80k range for restored ones. Back at home I wondered if anyone still produces a small 4×4 camper that could be considered a spiritual successor to the old Syncro Westy.

My research turned up the Fuso Earthcruiser from Queensland, Australia, the spiritual home of off-road travel. The Earthcruiser is built on a  Mitsubishi Fuso light truck chassis and features turbocharged diesel engine and a pop-top camper. Four-wheel-drive systems vary depending on the buyer’s specifications. The available 5-speed manual transmission is mated to a 2-speed transfer case and offers traditional 4-wheel drive. The available 6-speed automatic offers all-wheel drive and a single speed transfer case. Either spec includes a limited slip rear differential. 37″ tires are standard and enable a 3-foot (900mm) fording depth. All that and it’s still compact enough to fit in a standard shipping container.

Inside the Earthcruiser offers about 80 sq. ft. (7.5 sq. m) of sleeping, cooking, showering and living space. The vehicle also includes 23.8 gallons (90l) of water in two tanks. Not only can the water system purify water from any nearby stream, it can provide hot running water and showers (indoor or outdoor—your choice) with a Webasto diesel hot water heater. This same heating unit heats the interior air and, on the North American model, also heats the house batteries and water tanks, a boon for winter camping. As far as electricity goes, a solar panel-assisted electrical system will power the living space for up to ten days (given clear skies). After that, it’s simply a matter of topping up the house batteries with the engine alternator.

The Earthcruiser is available in the US for $220,000. While it’s not quite the spiritual successor to the Syncro on price, it does seem to step up the old Westy’s game quite a bit.