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8 June 2005

Platypus Car

Take a look at a very unusual car called the Platypus that not only drives on the road, it also works in the water.

KATHY McLEISH: Boyd Wyatt is used to attracting attention on Macleay Island in Redland Bay, south of Brisbane.

LAURINDA DE WYTT, ISLAND DOCTOR: But have you seen it?

NEVILLE DYKE, REAL ESTATE AGENT: We saw it first. It was sort of mysteriously driving around the island.

LAURINDA DE WYTT: I was home and my husband rang me on the mobile and he said come down to the shore.

KATHY McLEISH: But the ripples of interest are spreading.

And this car builder is making more than a local splash after deciding to take off road vehicles to a whole new market.

Three years ago, Boyd Wyatt saw a need in Australia for an amphibious vehicle. The first Platypus is now just weeks away from completion.

Designed with recreational use in mind, it's quickly finding commercial applications and on these islands orders are flowing in.

BOYD WATT: We've got a group of five islands here and with only a kilometre or two between each island, and you can actually stand at one island and look to the other island and you've got no way of getting there unless you get in a boat and then get out and have a car at the other end. This is the absolutely ideal solution.


HUSBAND: Have a good day.

LAURINDA DE WYTT: Thank you, see you later.

KATHY McLEISH: Laurinda de Wytt thinks it's the perfect solution. She's the only doctor for the bay islands population of six and half thousand.

LAURINDA DE WYTT: Although the ferry service is very, very good, it does not always fit in with the demands of a medical practice and so we have to use the boat to get back and forth and sometimes it isn't really very convenient.

KATHY McLEISH: But the first amphibian off the production line will go to Real Estate agent Neville Dyke.

NEVILLE DYKE: Hi Boyd how's it going?

BOYD WATT: Aw gidday Nev not too bad.

NEVILLE DYKE: This is new. What's this new bit?

BOYD WATT: Well this is the new improved air duct system that I've put on. And then on the other side is the hot air exit. With actually the exact size diameter aperture there's a fan forced air recycling system coming through by the exhaust system and exiting the other side.

On the road, the Suzuki Jimny scoots along at 100 kilometres an hour. In the water, jet power propels the craft at 7 knots. All major mechanicals are sealed inside the twin tunnel fibreglass hull. It has car and boat registration and drivers will need a car and a boat licence.

BOYD WYATT: We've actually taken an old concept and revamped it with modern materials, modern ideas and putting 2000 technology into an old idea and bringing it up to speed.

KATHY McLEISH: On his own Boyd Wyatt will produce up to 10 amphibians a year, but he's discussing the possibility of commercial production. In the meantime, his first baby is supposed to be launched into the wider world.

KATH McLEISH: So how are you going to part with this one?

BOYD WATT: I haven't decided actually whether I'm going to part with this one yet. I should let Neville know.

story notes

used to
Here used to means accustomed to. Follow the link an listen to the other meaning of used to.
more information: used to

Seen is the past participle of the irregular verb see.
more information: see

Saw is the past tense of the irregular verb see.
more information: see

Rang is the past tense of the irregular verb ring.
more information: ring

mobile phone or cell phone

Here said is the past tense of the irregular verb say.
more information: say

ripples of interest
A ripple is a small wave on the surface of water. A ripple is also a sound or a feeling that spreads through a group of people like a wave. So ripples of interest are feelings of interest that are spreading.

making more than a local splash
To make a splash means to become successful or well known suddenly. He is making more than a local splash. That is, his idea isnít just well-known by local people.

off road vehicles
Off-road vehicles are vehicles that can be driven over rough ground. They are strong enough that you donít have to drive only on major roads.

amphibious vehicle
An amphibious vehicle is a vehicle that can travel on both water and land. Amphibiuous is an adjective for things that can operate or live on both land and in water.

A platypus is an Australian animal that lives on land, but feeds and spends a lot of time in the water. So the car is named after it. But it is not an amphibian.

When we use the word amphibian to refer to animals we mean creatures such as frogs that spend part of their life completely in water as tadpoles and the other part on land breathing air.

Recreation refers to things you do for fun when youíre not working. Recreational means fun. Itís the adjective from recreation.

in mind
To have something in mind means to be thinking about it or be aware of it.

Example: I kept the cost of heating in mind when planning the house.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

commercial applications
Here, applications means uses. And commercial means related to buying or selling things. People are finding ways to use the Platypus for business.

vehicle that can be used on land and water

A concept is an idea.

To revamp means to change something in order to improve it.

up to speed
To be up to speed means to have all the latest information about something.

Example: He's up to speed with all the latest technology.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.