Friday | 23 September, 2011 | 1:36 pm

Peanut power

By Gretchen Salois

The Planters Nutmobile is eco-friendly from its shell to its steel frame

September 2011 - In a world where photos are shared on-the-go in a matter of seconds, companies are finding new ways to market products. Kraft Foods Global Inc., Northfield, Ill., employed the skills of Turtle Transit, Lancaster, Mass., to fabricate the Planters Nutmobile.

The Planters Nutmobile is a mobile marketing vehicle outfitted with environmentally conscious materials that has the ability to utilize solar and wind energy to power parts of the vehicle. Based on a 2011 Isuzu NPR box truck, the Nutmobile was held in place with a steel skeleton frame. “We removed the box from the back of a truck and mounted steel runners as the main point of contact for the underlaying frame,” says James Riseborough, co-owner and creative designer at Turtle Transit. “The skeletal frame was then welded to the floor of the vehicle.”

The team at Turtle Transit used a roll bender machine to fabricate the ribs of the skeleton using 1.5-in. square tubing as the primary material. “To connect the skeletal rubs and fasten them to the exterior frame, we used 2-in. aluminum stock and sheeting. Once connected and fastened to the frame, we covered the ribs with expanded aluminum screen,” Riseborough says.

Fiberglass was sculpted into the peanut shape of the vehicle. “We wanted to create an outer texture that would make it cool to look at,” Riseborough continues. “We used epoxy and rubber stamps to create an organic look and texture for the peanut shell. The raised ribs that run like a real peanut—those were created using foam.”

Going green was an important factor for Kraft, and Turtle Transit was able to use reclaimed materials to construct the Nutmobile. “We tried to incorporate reclaimed materials in the structure of the vehicle whenever it was possible and made the most sense,” Riseborough says. “The passenger and driver side window frames and windows along with two windshields joined together were reclaimed from a F250 Ford Truck.” A good portion of the steel used to construct the Nutmobile was culled from the F250 Ford Trucks as well.

In addition to going green with the truck’s frame, the truck’s cockpit is also self-sufficient. “We fabricated a wind turbine out of aluminum and mounted it onto the rooftop of the vehicle,” Riseborough says. “At highway speeds, it generates electricity for marketing-related events.”

According to Riseborough, Turtle Transit wanted to complete an eco-friendly-type vehicle like the Nutmobile for quite some time. “When Planters challenged us with the opportunity, we pitched our Nutmobile concept and they loved it.”

Using natural elements
“We tried to incorporate nature and natural elements,” says Joe Doyon, co-owner and general manager, Turtle Transit. “Inside the vehicle, we used reclaimed hardwood flooring from an 1840s barn in Pennsylvania, which was in the process of being torn down.” In addition to the flooring, the team used low-energy LED lights to illuminate the cab interior as well as reclaimed headlights.

“The vehicle took two months to construct,” Doyon says, adding the vehicle is set up to hold three people in the cab. It also runs on biodiesel fuel. According to Doyon, management and staff of the Nutmobile plan strategically and keep track of where they can pick up biodiesel fuel in any location along the 2011 Planters “Naturally Remarkable” tour, which travels to 16 U.S. cities.

Solar panels along the roof and a wind turbine power the vehicle lights, audio and other event-related equipment used when the vehicle is stationary at the stop along the tour. After a two-hour drive, the Nutmobile will generate and store enough energy to power a one-hour event. The Nutmobile is the first commercial vehicle of this kind to use a wind turbine as a power source.

The practicality of the vehicle coupled with the eco-minded elements used to create the Nutmobile makes it an eye-catching advertisement. Fabricating the vehicle out of recycled parts and attempting to minimize its carbon footprint were priorities, but so was the visual angle. “It was also extremely important that the visual aspect of the vehicle would stop traffic and engage consumers,” Doyon says. MM



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