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Richmond reaps reward from funky dune buggy fever

They had hoped to catch a few pairs of eyes and raise a couple of eyebrows when they showcased their prize possession last weekend.

They had hoped to catch a few pairs of eyes and raise a couple of eyebrows when they showcased their prize possession last weekend.

But the post-show reaction from the EPIC Expo to Von Mynheer's funky futuristic all-electric dune buggy has been so overwhelming, the company has decided to move its entire operation from Kelowna to Richmond.

Since the inventors of the Chico unveiled their prototype at the show, calls and e-mails have been flooding into their Richmond marketing office, demanding to know more about the car of the future that cuts a retro flair.

And on Thursday, Von Mynheer's marketing director, Mark Mansfield, was hoping to seal the deal on securing a facility in the Bridgeport and Shell roads area to house their new manufacturing operations.

"We received worldwide exposure from the show; it reached China, Poland and Russia," said Mansfield. "So much has happened since the show that we simply had to move everything here to Richmond, as we've had an incredible response around the Lower Mainland."

Mansfield said Von Mynheer will move as soon as possible, perhaps within a few weeks.

He has fielded up to 40 enquiries in the last five days alone from around the globe and closed the deal on a 20-strong order for the 50-kilometre top speed Bikinee, which is the base model of the Chico - named after California's most environmentally friendly city.

"A marketing company downtown wants the Bikinee to get around Vancouver," said Mansfield.

"We will actually be fitting each of their cars with a small wind turbine, which will help power the battery."

Such was the impact of the car at last weekend's show, the company has received an invitation to attend the EPIC Dubai Expo in February 2013, where Von Mynheer will release its fastest model, called the Blast, estimated to do in excess of 150 kph.

And Von Mynheer is also working with a top university with a view to helping them replace their 100-strong gas-powered fleet with a yet-to-be built all-electric futuristic one-ton van.

As well as benefiting from the creation of new jobs in the city, Von Mynheer has also selected Richmond-based Blitzgear Inc. to do its marketing and advertising worldwide, along with its website.

There's also fierce interest from California and across the U.S. for the Chico, which starts at $24,999 for the base model, and their prototype van version.

"We are looking to work with schools, colleges and universities, offering automotive programs to expose young minds to the opportunities that will exist as we expand and grow creating employment opportunities worldwide."

For the meantime, the prototype Chico remains locked away in a secret Richmond location.

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