Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Supercraft – The Sports Car inspired Hovercraft

Published on August 8, 2014 by   ·   No Comments

Amphibious vehicles tend to be more Action Man than Batman – lumbering vehicles in drab greeny-grey camouflage colours that are more at home in the jungle than in the city.  However, cousins Michael Mercier and Chris Jones from Chicago, Illinois, plan to change all that and turn peoples’ perception of amphibious vehicles on its head.

In 2013, these young Americans founded a company, Mercier-Jones, to produce the aptly named Supercraft – a car-hovercraft combo that would definitely not look out of place on Gotham City high street.

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Supercraft has a chromium-alloy tube chassis, a carbon hull and weighs in at only 700 pounds.  Combine that light weight with 250 pounds of thrust and you get a thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.208 – better than the supersonic B-2 Stealth Spirit bomber.  It will have an estimated top speed of 80mph and Mercier-Jones is hoping that the Supercraft will beat the hovercraft land-speed record of 56.25mph this summer.  After which they plan to go after the water-speed record which currently stands at 86.5mph.  Bold indeed.

 

The pair tried to raise finance in 2012 through crowd-funding site Indiegogo, but only managed to attract 10% of the $50,000 they needed to build the first prototype.  “We got enough money to rent our first little shop and started building the hull with $3,000 in the bank account,” says Mercier.  “We eventually found an angel investor, who has gotten us this far.”

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Mercier, 27, is a mechanical engineer who has long had a passion for hovercrafts.  He built his first three in 9th grade (that’s first year of senior school to us Brits) then designed and built a four-person hovercraft the summer after high school.  It wasn’t perfect, so he re-designed it and built a better one two years later.  Ten years on and he’s still building them.  This latest iteration, the Supercraft, looks like it’s going to be a winner.

 

Supercraft is powered by a rear-mounted 60hp petrol engine that generates electricity to run the pair of 42hp electric motors of the drive system.  There’s also a lithium ion battery pack – this holds reserve power that can be applied to the drive motors for quick bursts of performance.

 

Floating seven inches above the ground, the Supercraft can seamlessly traverse any surface.  The list on their website includes: “land, field, sand, desert, mud, pavement, grass, dirt, gravel, water, snow, ice, ocean, swamp, marsh, lake, river and flood”, though it’s unclear what license you’d need for a city pavement these days.

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At the moment the craft cannot be driven legally on public roads.  Mercier explains why, “That’s because of the lack of manoeuvrability on older models.  Since they were like an airboat, with one big fan in the back, you’re constantly fish-tailing to try to go in a straight line.  Nobody has done anything like ours, where you can actually take that direct heading where you want to go.  It’s a huge step forward into the street-legal area, and we also have the reversing or braking, so you can actually stop.  On an older hovercraft, you have to power down or flip the whole thing around – just like a boat”.

 

To fix this problem, Mercier-Jones has come up with a patent-pending directional control system.  This steering system consists of two side-mounted fans which can be controlled independently and act like bow thrusters.  They provide fine-tuned control in both forward and reverse, with the added bonus of being able to move sideways – much more manoeuvrable than our boring four-wheeled cars.

 

The Supercraft has a price tag of $75,000, which isn’t bad considering you get a record-breaking boat and a luxury car in one great-looking package.

 

To put your orders in now for the 2015 release, visit www.mercier-jones.com

 

 

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