As Truck Trend recently did, you too can stop at All Terrain Warriors USA factory in Fresno, California, and watch the production of the all-new Alpha-model expeditionary vehicle. Having had an earlier look at their first expeditionary prototype (called the Bravo) more than a year ago and after hearing that giant steps had taken place in the development and engineering of the new Alpha (it has just gone into production), Truck Trend headed north for a look-see at what was going on.
Not letting any grass grow as this competitive market continues to emerge, Alan Feld, President and CEO of All Terrain Warriors USA has partnered with All Terrain Warriors of Australia, and together they have launched the new Alpha model in both markets. Incorporating all of the functionality, livability, and technical lessons learned during the R&D of the first prototype, it can be said with certainty that "it is no longer necessary to spend a half million dollars on a vehicle to explore the four corners of the world" for the Alpha comes with a base suggested retail price of about $245,000, depending on options.
The Alpha uses the standard (two-person cab) Fuso Chassis that features tilt-cab engine and transmission access. The cab and its seating are anything but Fuzo factory appointed, for even though this chassis was developed by Mitsubishi for a world that demands rugged utility-truck platforms, the Alpha incorporates features that make this space a custom designed venue. The Alpha cockpit yields luxury and comfort, as well as excellence in ride. The driver and passenger seats can be air or mechanical suspension seats with a custom-built center console that can include lighted drink holders, storage, and a safe.
The Alpha incorporates a passage way/crawl-through that permits a fullsize individual to move back and forth between the cab and the living area that is attached to the chassis rails. Both a convenience and a plus when it comes to security while traveling and spending the night in parts unknown, the rear living area has seating for three passengers, and yes, the unit comfortably accommodates five for sleepovers.
The rear box that house the living area is made of gel-coat fiberglass and is available in two different formats. It can be enjoyed with a lift roof (electric motor operated) that has a road-ready exterior height of 103 inches. However, to enjoy the amenities requires raising the roof via a control switch (it takes a matter of seconds) that then yields an interior height of 6 feet, 9 inches.
The Alpha is also available with a solid roof that is structurally attached to the solid walls, with the overall exterior height (road-ready) being 130 inches while the interior height remains a constant 6 feet, 4 inches. The living quarter stands at the ready to be enjoyed at all times, whether you are underway or parked at a campsite. The deciding issue on which of these two versions of the Alpha expeditionary vehicle formats will work best for the end-user is determined by the importance or concern for overall exterior clearance of the vehicle while underway. The exterior clearance while navigating across primitive settings may or may not be of concern. The client decides!
When the Fuso chassis is received at All Terrain Warriors USA, it arrives with the chassis rails, cab, and the drive train that includes a 3.0L I-4 Mercedes turbo diesel with a six-speed automatic transmission and factory four-wheel-drive. With an eye to growing this market, All Terrain Warriors elected to go with the Fuso Chassis as it has been homologated to meet the performance and emissions standards of any country in the world. All Terrain Warriors USA can order the chassis from Mitsubishi in Japan for the country it will be delivered to upon completion.
The dual rear wheels that are Mitsubishi-standard on this chassis are not used. Instead, they are replaced with larger single rear wheels (10x19.5), which are important for an expeditionary type vehicle of this kind. Single rear wheels follow the exact track the front wheels have already plowed in soft surfaces like snow or mud. With dual rear wheels, plowing a new path is required. Furthermore, the potential for a boulder or rock becoming wedged between two tires and cutting down the sidewalls on both tires or slingshoting the rock and doing damage to the vehicle or something exterior to the vehicle is not there.
The Mitsubishi OEM suspension is replaced with parabolic suspension and adjustable shock absorbers. The parabolic suspension facilitates ease-of-ride over smooth surfaces such as paved roads but progressively responds with added stiffness as the terrain becomes more challenging. The house or box that provides the living-area half of the Alpha equation is built by All Terrain Vehicles Australia and shipped to California. It features a six-point mounting system that attaches to the Fuso rails. This configuration and design permits the box and chassis to twist and move separately as torque is applied by irregular ground surfaces. Two spare tires are hung off the rear of the unit, and because of their size and weight (each at 176 pounds), a standard rear 16,000-pound electric winch assists in lowering and raising the spare tires from and to their stowed locations.
The Alpha is an overland expeditionary vehicle that, regardless of where in the world it is being enjoyed, yields all of the creature and residential comforts expected today, and it does so in totally standalone, primitive camping conditions. To begin with, the solid walls and roof are well insulated. The walls incorporate solid foam core insulation that carried an insulation factor of R22.
This coach is all diesel-powered, with heating coming from an Espar closed-loop diesel-fired system that serves four comfort zones inside the unit. A 12,500 Btu air conditioner by Danhard is ducted to 3 zones and is housed beneath the coach. The optional 4.0kW auxiliary diesel generator, 2-deep cycle marine house batteries, roof mounted solar panels, and a 140-amp engine-driven alternator make up the electrics. All lighting is low-current-usage, high-illumination LEDs. The galley stove can be an electric induction unit or a diesel stove. The refrigerator is a double drawer, 5.1 cubic foot unit by Vitrifrigo. Each drawer is operated as an individual unit.
Plumbing systems include fresh, gray, and wastewater holding tanks. The kind of toilet selected (three are offered) dictates the size of the waste tank, which can range from 5 gallons up to 20 gallons. There is a cassette toilet options that allows the cassette to be emptied even in outdoor or public restrooms. The graywater tank holds 20 gallons, while the two freshwater tanks include a state-of-the-art 3M water filtration system that can take water from a source like a stream or pond, chlorinate it, filter it, and make it potable. Along with a toilet, the private enclosed water closet includes a shower and a lavvy. The galley sink is incorporated in a solid-surface countertop. Hot water is provided by the Espar diesel-fired closed-loop system that can also be used to preheat the engine in very cold weather.
The fuel economy on this 14,050-pound GVWR expeditionary vehicle is respectable. With a dry weight of approximately 11,952 pounds, the cargo carrying capacity is huge. The unit that Alan Feld takes to shows like the Overland Expo in Arizona and out to Moab to the mountains of Colorado, had at the time an average fuel economy of 17.3 mpg. On one particular run under steady state operating conditions and with the EcoBoost system on (this effects the gearing in the transmission), the average fuel economy came in at 18.6 mpg. It can carry 41 gallons of diesel, which gives it a very respectable range between fuel stops. Additional cans of fuel can be carried on the cab roof rack.
With its 19.5-inch wheels, clearance from the axle housing/transfer case to the ground is 10.5 inches. Exterior width is 86 inches, and front to rear, it measures 22.5 feet. Equipped with a Class V receiver hitch, the Alpha is rated to tow 4,000 pounds above and beyond its GVWR. The options are nearly endless, which means the Alpha can be tailored to the specific requirements of each client.