Mike Ward, CEO of Tiger Truck LLC, thinks his Chinese-designed, Oklahoma-built Tiger Champ truck is just what Oklahoma farmers need — particularly with 37 MPG from its Caterpillar-sourced three-cylinder diesel engine. With a retail price of about $13,000, the price point is certainly right. So why isn't the nation signing up for the Tiger Champ and its sister truck, the Tiger Star? Both trucks are slow. Neither pickup is legal, outside of Oklahoma, to drive on public roads. Oh, and neither meets federal safety standards. Good thing Ward's got friends in high places.
The Champ and its smaller brother, the Tiger Star, were both designed by China-based Chongqing Changan, and are shipped to Oklahoma as partial knockdown kits. Tiger sources the remaining parts stateside and completes assembly at a facility in Poteau, OK, with the capacity to build about 35 units a day.
Tiger plans to skirt the "collapsing Chinese vehicle" problem by certifying the Champ as legal only for off-highway use, and only usable on public roads in Oklahoma — the latter courtesy of Ward's friend, Gov. Brad Henry.
With 28 HP and 45 lb-ft of torque, the Tiger Champ (35 HP and 54 lb-ft of torque for the Tiger Star) isn't going to break any land speed records, but the truck should provide a fuel-saving way for farmers to get around rural areas and run from tornadoes. Technically, one can purchase a Tiger Champ outside of Oklahoma, but the vehicle will be governed to a maximum of 25 MPH; inside Oklahoma, Champ speeds are unregulated, so we're looking forward to future rural Tiger hoonage courtesy of the Sooner State. Tiger vs. Unimog, anyone? [Automotive News (Sub. Req.)]