If your idea of camping involves high-altitude border crossings, and your First Aid kit is larger than Paris Hilton’s Louis Vuitton carry-on, then you probably know about the Unicat range of expedition vehicles. If not, then read on.
Unicats are RVs designed to go places where running out of gas puts your life in danger. They’re built in Germany on tough 4×4 truck underpinnings, using chassis provided by Unimog, International or MAN. Although many of the components are manufactured in the US, the bodies are built and assembled in Germany: the 11,000 square meter Unicat factory is only 30 minutes up the autobahn from the Unimog plant.
Squob has long been a fan of the Euro-style expedition vehicles based on six-wheel MAN and bad-ass Volvo C303 trucks, but the Unicats are something else. When the apocalypse arrives, this is what you want parked in your garage, along with 2,000 gallons of biodiesel—not a plug-in hybrid. And who cares if this ‘EV’ looks more like a garbage truck than an RV?
As the blurb says, “Drive from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Tierra Del Fuego, Chile, roads optional. Ship your EV to the Sahara, Gobi, or Kalahari Deserts, or the Australian Outback. See people and places that others can only dream of. All this in a vehicle offering the highest standards of reliability, safety and comfort.” Yessir!
The good news is that all Unicats meet EPA and DOT requirements, and can be licensed and registered in all states. The less good news is that they cost $500,000 or more, and you’ll have to wait eight months to a year for your personal vehicle to be built and then shipped to a US port of entry.
UPDATE | Avi Meyers, the CEO of UnicatAmericas, dropped us a line to say:
“I just returned from a fabulous trip with a new International MXT-based Unicat. In four weeks we test-drove the vehicle from Germany to Morocco and then back through Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and back to Germany.
“Unfortunately, International has pulled the rug from under our feet by ceasing production of the MXT after just one year of production. Because it’s now a one-of-a-kind, we won’t be promoting it but it is available for sale if anyone is interested. We are now looking at the new Dodge 5500 or Sterling Bullet as potential replacements for that model.
“In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate if you would let your readers know that Unicat can build any body they see on the European website on US street-legal chassis.”
The other big global ‘extreme RV’ manufacturer is Action Mobil, which builds many of its expedition vehicles on the MAN truck platform. Check out our Action Mobil article for more details and pictures. In the US, the leading ‘extreme RV’ maker is Global Expedition Vehicles, and we’ve profiled their mighty Unimog U500-based truck. If you like the idea of 4×4 camping, but want something smaller, check out the EarthRoamer.