Gerrard Merrick is not averse to a new challenge or change of career. He has worked as a mechanical engineer, in IT and business services, and is now a composite manufacturer in Warkworth.
All of which has come in handy for his electric powered three-wheeled all terrain e3 ATV.
Designed as a smart alternative to the quad bike, it was launched at Fieldays in 2014 as a prototype. Gerrard says farmers were sceptical at first, but also open to innovation.
“There’s nothing like dealing with the farming community because they tell you like it is,” he says.
Revisions were made based on feedback, as well as the engineering input of agricultural machine manufacturer Roger Grant.
Gerrard has noticed a change in attitude to electric vehicles in the past few years, which has increased sales. In the first year he sold three e3s, and last year he sold 11.
The first sales were to organic farmers who were already off the grid, but in recent years the interest has been more widespread. His customers range from large dry stock farms to horticulture including kiwifruit, olive and nut orchards.
The annual average running cost of about $200 for charging, compared to $4000 for petrol, is a drawcard. It has immediate torque and acceleration, common in electric powered engines, which is good for towing, carrying and control. The vehicle uses a lithium battery.
Gerrard says farmers sometimes question his claims that the three-wheeler is more stable and safer than an average ATV.
He says the design is completely different to three-wheeled farm trikes, and the e3 provides the correct weight/balance distribution maintaining steerage and eliminating front corner tipping and sledging.
He says four-wheeled ATVs are challenged by uneven terrain and steep slopes, which require complex suspension systems, whereas the e3 maintains maximum ground contact.
“Once they go for a ride and try it for themselves, they get it straight away.”
The e3 is designed to be durable for farms. It has a strong chassis and 99 percent is hot dipped galvanised or stainless steel, with marine fittings for the seating, gears and steering wheel. The body is made from composites, which led to Gerrard buying Roseware Manufacturing on Hudson Road. He says farmers enjoy adapting the e3 to suit their needs, from making the tray longer for farm dogs to a camouflage body for hunting.