Any interesting requests you’ve received from potential customers…?
“Actually it’s worked out pretty well. Here we sold a 200hp single seater back in 2008. The customer, Ahmed, was very keen to get into the quad/biker scene and the desert stuff they do out here.
“The criteria at the time when we built that vehicle was that we did just the 180hp single seater. Ahmad said that the Honda engine wasn’t big enough. He said it’s not got enough power, and if he was going to buy one he wanted more power. Normally that’s it: here’s your 180hp, off you go. But then we thought this is an opportunity. If we can build this thing and he likes it, he’ll show his friends, and they’ll show theirs, etc. So we went through quite a lot of pain to re-design the chassis and the Quaife gearbox to make this big lump fit in the back of a very small area. But we did it.”
How did Ahmed feel considering this was new territory?
“Ahmed was quite brave because we didn’t have a representative out here. He saw us on the internet, came to see us at the factory, and he loved what we did. So he said, ‘right I’ll have that’. We couldn’t tell him how much it would be. I think after he took his machine, we thought most people here would like to know we are out here, so if they needed spares they could speak to somebody.
“Hopefully Al Forsan will be up and running before the end of the year, and I’m a lot more confident when I get an enquiry to say that they’ll actually buy it from us. We can guarantee support. I’m quietly confident things will change after coming here this time.”
What’s the craziest thing Rage Motorsports has been involved in?
“The loop de loop is pretty wacky. In fact at IDEX 2013 they wanted to do something a bit special and so they did a single loop de loop. They had five vehicles in succession going round the loop and that was a world record. In South Africa, Top Gear did a double loop de loop.
“Remember though that we are a manufacturer so we don’t have a lot of time to do wacky things. In the UK we are encouraging our customers to get together more often and to do stuff collectively. When we all meet up that’s when we brain storm ideas. We will see what comes from that.”
So you have the new facility on its way and international interest already. On average, how many units do you produce within a year?
“We produce between 60-100 at the moment but we have the capacity to do 200. At the moment, with the average cost of a vehicle over £30,000 [around $45,000], we are quite comfortable that it works for us.
“We’ve got the space and we have the capacity within our MRP system, which works for us. It controls stock, so we’ve got the room to grow. At this moment, we’ve got this region and other European countries we’re talking to, as well as Australia and USA. Once we get those coming on-board then we are going ramp things up, but we’re not going to move too fast. My big concern with expanding too fast is you cause yourself a lot of problems.”
What is do you think about Rage Motorsports that differentiates it from competitors? Is it all about the buggies…?
“I’d say our unique selling point is that we can do pretty much everything on road as we can off-road. We have road legal vehicles in the UK, and if anybody wants to export one, we can export one for them, though they will have to re-register it.
So how does the on-road vehicle setup compare to the off-road variant?
“The track day body is more aerodynamic, plus it has radiators on the outside and scoops so you have a clear air path going through the centre. The radiator is protected and – God forbid – should you roll it, you’re only going to bend a bit of plastic on the outside. With the off-road version, the radiators are mounted on the top and you could wipe them out if you roll.
“The performance and handling is the thing that will separate us from everybody else. We’re not Can-am, and we’re not Polaris. They are UTVs. I know they are very popular and companies sell thousands of them, but because of the performance and handling, we liken ourselves to an Ariel Atom or a Caterham since they are a very capable track day vehicles.”