The tire-sucking bogs and lonely, icy Arctic expanses of Russia inspired the Sherp ATV and its six-wheeled powered trailer. Canada has some of the same types of inhospitable, uncrossable northerly terrain, and it also has its own homegrown amphibious rover: the Fat Truck from Quebec’s Zeal Motor. Traditionally equipped with a combination of huge 65-inch paddle-tires and fully enclosed personnel carrier, the Fat Truck family has welcomed a versatile cargo hauler in the all-new 2.8P, a high-riding pickup truck built to carry work supplies over harsh, trackless land and water that would spell disaster for the average pickup.
Zeal Motor launched the original industrial-grade Fat Truck 2.8C in 2019, aiming it at mining and energy companies in Canada, the US, Scandinavia and Australia. The amphibious big-wheeler might look purpose-built for creating viral videos and social media content, but it’s really designed to meet the very specific needs of clients in select industrial sectors. In the case of the new 2.8P, those needs come from the utility industry and dictate a vehicle that can carry crew members and payload separately while moving capably across soft, treacherous earth and deep standing water to remote work sites.
In place of the full-length prismatic cabin of the 2.8C, the 2.8P has a short two-person cabin set in front of a tailgate-accessed bed. The bed itself is rather narrow, owing to the 2-foot (61-cm)-wide tires on either side, but flat, bed-length sides over top the tires add flexibility when loading cargo up to the 2,200-lb (1,000-kg) payload. In addition to carrying tools, gear and other loose cargo, the 2.8P serves as a platform for available equipment such as a firefighting foam kit, high-speed capstan or service crane.
The Fat 2.8P comes powered by a 2.2-liter Caterpillar four-cylinder turbodiesel that puts out up to 67 hp at 2,800 rpm and 153 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm. Engine output gets routed through a hydrostatic carbon fiber synchronous belt transmission that also delivers braking power.
The joystick-controlled Fat Truck 2.8P can travel on land at speeds up to 25 mph (40 km/h) and paddle through water at up to 3 mph (5 km/h). It can also crawl up muddy slopes up to a 75-percent grade and turn in place on a 0-degree radius. Even when the truck is fully loaded, the huge 65-inch (164-cm) squishy tires tip-toe lightly at just 1.6 psi, five times lighter than a human footprint, allowing the pickup to roll gingerly over soft ground without sinking in. An onboard tire adjustment system ensures that pressure is matched to the terrain at hand.
The Fat 2.8P stands quite high at 8.6 feet (2.6 m), with nearly 21 inches (53 cm) of ground clearance, but its overhang-free body stretches a mere 147 inches (372 cm) in length, shorter than a two-door Mini Cooper. The two front occupants board the vessel via the swing-up windshield and drop-down lower front-end hatch with integrated ladder.
The Fat Truck 2.8P makes its public premiere at this week’s Utility Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, which opens on Tuesday and runs through Thursday. Zeal did not release pricing information in its announcement, but looking at the six-figure prices quoted in past 2.8C reports, it’s safe to assume its price-to-usefulness ratio is off the charts for everyone but the industrial customers for which it was specifically developed. As fun as straight-up powering through deep mud and water looks, the average pickup driver will be much better off sticking with a new Toyota Tundra or Rivian R1T.
Fat Truck hasn’t added any 2.8P footage to its YouTube channel yet, but but we can’t publish a story about a land/water dominator like the Fat Truck without some kind of video. Here’s a look at the full-bodied Fat Truck 2.8C cutting a path through water and marsh that would devour a typical vehicle.
Fat Truck in mud