International Newsmaker Q&A: Will Austin

Jan. 1, 2020
Will Austin, director of the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) is featured in the book Generation BIG by Jeffrey Smith as the tome profiles "BIG" people (Bold, Innovative, and Generous).

Will Austin, director of the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) is featured in the book Generation BIG by Jeffrey Smith as the tome profiles “BIG” people (Bold, Innovative, and Generous) and tells the stories of their ideas, challenges and success.

As he pursued an international career in the automotive industry, Austin shifted gears to establish the IAT after getting a firsthand view of how impoverished populations could benefit from his concept of a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV).

Who designs the BUV?

IAT works with the private sector and utilizes engineering students for cost-effective product development. Teams of engineering students nationwide generate prototype BUV designs and participate in annual BUV Design Competitions. More than 30 universities have participated including Auburn, Purdue, Marquette, Michigan, Missouri, John Brown, the University of Cincinatti, the University of Dayton, Miami University, SUNY, the University of Northern Arizona, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and Northern Illinois University.

Who uses the designs?

Small manufacturers in impoverished areas use the designs and access them at www.drivebuv.org. The website’s purpose is to encourage collaboration and technology sharing. The Technology Transfer Package helps small businesses bypass the costly product development process. By removing R&D from the product cost, IAT allows small manufacturers in Africa and beyond a way to quickly enter the motor vehicle business with low investment.

Who buys BUVs?

Target consumers are small business owners with incomes of less than $4,000 per year. Target countries are those in Africa and Latin America that are within 2,000 miles of the equator. BUVs are best suited for warm climates because BUVs are open-air vehicles. Flat or rolling hill topography is preferred because the economical engine has limited power. BUVs are designed for low-traffic, rural applications.

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What is the IAT’s role in the BUV’s development process?

IAT researches the need and feasibility of BUVs, mobilizes university involvement through the Annual BUV Competition (eight years running), and promotes the vehicle to a variety of stakeholders. IAT is a non-profit organization with its headquarters in Indianapolis. IAT partners with aid agencies and mission organizations whenever possible. IAT leverages the skills of many volunteers around the world to pursue its goals at very low cost.

How is the IAT funded?

IAT is funded by individuals, foundations, churches and international corporations. Targeted corporations include those that extract resources from developing nations and those companies that can directly benefit from BUV sales (i.e. manufacturers of small engines, auto parts and petroleum products).

How do corporate sponsors benefit?

Sponsors have an opportunity to make a tax-deductible contribution that could indirectly help create new markets for their products. Furthermore, this goodwill endeavor can attract national and sometimes international publicity by helping the less fortunate. Sponsors also benefits from the involvement of college students (both via PR and employment).

What are the most common BUV applications?

• Medical vehicle

• Farm vehicle carrying farm inputs/outputs

• Construction vehicle for churches, clinics, schools

• Water distribution or water purification

• School bus for children.

How are BUVs distributed?

Eight assembled BUVs can fit in one 40-foot ocean container, or 14 crated units (nested halves), or 60 separately packed front BUV kits can be sent in a 20-foot ocean container. Full shipments reduce freight/theft costs and enhance consistency during customs. The entire container is placed on to a large truck and delivered to the BUV factory. Over time, local sourcing occurs and more jobs are created. Each assembler/dealer assembles, sells and services the BUVs.

Will Austin, director of the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) is featured in the book Generation BIG by Jeffrey Smith as the tome profiles “BIG” people (Bold, Innovative, and Generous) and tells the stories of their ideas, challenges and success.

As he pursued an international career in the automotive industry, Austin shifted gears to establish the IAT after getting a firsthand view of how impoverished populations could benefit from his concept of a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV).

Who designs the BUV?

IAT works with the private sector and utilizes engineering students for cost-effective product development. Teams of engineering students nationwide generate prototype BUV designs and participate in annual BUV Design Competitions. More than 30 universities have participated including Auburn, Purdue, Marquette, Michigan, Missouri, John Brown, the University of Cincinatti, the University of Dayton, Miami University, SUNY, the University of Northern Arizona, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and Northern Illinois University.

Who uses the designs?

Small manufacturers in impoverished areas use the designs and access them at www.drivebuv.org. The website’s purpose is to encourage collaboration and technology sharing. The Technology Transfer Package helps small businesses bypass the costly product development process. By removing R&D from the product cost, IAT allows small manufacturers in Africa and beyond a way to quickly enter the motor vehicle business with low investment.

Who buys BUVs?

Target consumers are small business owners with incomes of less than $4,000 per year. Target countries are those in Africa and Latin America that are within 2,000 miles of the equator. BUVs are best suited for warm climates because BUVs are open-air vehicles. Flat or rolling hill topography is preferred because the economical engine has limited power. BUVs are designed for low-traffic, rural applications.

PAGE 2

What is the IAT’s role in the BUV’s development process?

IAT researches the need and feasibility of BUVs, mobilizes university involvement through the Annual BUV Competition (eight years running), and promotes the vehicle to a variety of stakeholders. IAT is a non-profit organization with its headquarters in Indianapolis. IAT partners with aid agencies and mission organizations whenever possible. IAT leverages the skills of many volunteers around the world to pursue its goals at very low cost.

How is the IAT funded?

IAT is funded by individuals, foundations, churches and international corporations. Targeted corporations include those that extract resources from developing nations and those companies that can directly benefit from BUV sales (i.e. manufacturers of small engines, auto parts and petroleum products).

How do corporate sponsors benefit?

Sponsors have an opportunity to make a tax-deductible contribution that could indirectly help create new markets for their products. Furthermore, this goodwill endeavor can attract national and sometimes international publicity by helping the less fortunate. Sponsors also benefits from the involvement of college students (both via PR and employment).

What are the most common BUV applications?

• Medical vehicle

• Farm vehicle carrying farm inputs/outputs

• Construction vehicle for churches, clinics, schools

• Water distribution or water purification

• School bus for children.

How are BUVs distributed?

Eight assembled BUVs can fit in one 40-foot ocean container, or 14 crated units (nested halves), or 60 separately packed front BUV kits can be sent in a 20-foot ocean container. Full shipments reduce freight/theft costs and enhance consistency during customs. The entire container is placed on to a large truck and delivered to the BUV factory. Over time, local sourcing occurs and more jobs are created. Each assembler/dealer assembles, sells and services the BUVs.

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