The Kiravan featured in this post is the pairing of a (scientifically purposed) Unimog, uber-advanced trailer/lab/living quarters and a father’s dream. Bran Ferren developed the Kiravan as a mobile learning station for his daughter Kira. It is built to travel to inhospitable locations around the globe and can serve as a scientific laboratory, video editing office and mobile living quarters.
The design and build cost of the Kiravan must be in the untold millions.
The Unimog component of the Kiravan has a 260 horsepower turbo-diesel engine providing 700ft-lb of torque. It’s built on a stretched platform and has been highly modified: “The engine drives an 8-speed (6-reverse gears) electro-pneumatic shifted transmission and two power take-off units (PTO) that drive the hydraulics systems. An auxiliary gearbox, with both working and crawler reduction gears, in turn drives three differentials and portal axles. This combination provides extreme off- road power as well as the ability to cruise on-road at 70MPH maximum speed.” – – Kiravan
“The KiraVan™ tractor is a modified Mercedes-Benz Unimog U500NA with a Mercedes Benz 6-cylinder in-line 260HP high-efficiency intercooled turbo-diesel engine providing 700ft-lb of torque. The chassis frame has been stretched and reinforced, a four-door composite crew cabin added, and an off-road articulating fifth-wheel trailer hitch attached.
While we had a very good experience with the Mercedes Benz Unimog chassis on the original MaxiMog project, the evaluation process was repeated for the KiraVan to see what new vehicle options were available, given the passage of time. While there were interesting new offerings, we ultimately decided to again use a Unimog chassis for the base vehicle for the following reasons:
- Proven extreme off-road capability for civilian and military users.
- Some recent models are now fully road-legal both in the United States and overseas, while capable of being effectively serviced and maintained anywhere.
- Excellent OEM configurability options with very well documented engineering design guides.
- Good factory support for technical information, global parts availability, and international service representation. (Although sadly, not currently in the United States).
- A network of people experienced with doing many of the Unimog modifications we required.
- Our past good experiences with Mercedes-Benz Unimog, established high quality supply-chain and technical support resources.
POWERTRAIN – The engine drives an 8-speed (6-reverse gears) electro-pneumatic shifted transmission and two power take-off units (PTO) that drive the hydraulics systems. An auxiliary gearbox, with both working and crawler reduction gears, in turn drives three differentials and portal axles. This combination provides extreme off- road power as well as the ability to cruise on-road at 70MPH maximum speed.
ALL-WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEMS – The KiraVan features permanent 4-wheel drive on the tractor, with 6-wheel drive at speeds up to 25mph using a Hydro-Drive system that powers the trailer axle.” – – Kiravan
Pretty cool – no?
Look, if I were loaded, I would love to attempt something like this for my little ones. As it is, they have to make due with an occasional tent trailer over a long weekend. Still, just the idea of driving that Unimog and having the trailer actually kick in with additional push is amazing!
… but I want missile launchers on mine.
Speaking of hard-core RVs – Andre and I talked about buying this bad boy (it’s for sale for $25,000) and turning it into a killer RV….