Arctic Trucks, Ford Super Duty, Expedition trucks, Adventure Rigs, Overlanding, Overland, off-road,

The “Behind the Wheel” series is an up close and personal look at authentic brands in the exciting world of Overlanding and Vehicle Supported Adventure. Today we’re sitting down with Kyle Leeds, Director of Sales and Business Development for Arctic Trucks, North America.

Arctic Trucks,

Kyle, great to chat with you today. I’m sure many of the TAP readers have already drooled at images of Arctic Trucks in Iceland. For those few who maybe don’t know the brand, give us an introduction to Arctic Trucks. 

Glad to be speaking with you Andy! Arctic Trucks was founded in 1990 in Iceland to offer the local off-road community high quality products to suit the often-challenging terrain and climate.   Since its founding, Arctic Trucks grew into primarily full vehicle builds supporting nearly every segment of the commercial and enthusiast off-road market. We now have manufacturing locations in 10 countries and have over 15,000 vehicles on the road, ranging from expedition rigs converted to 6-wheel drive with 44” tires, to upfits designed for the daily commute. A few of our more notable highlights include taking the first wheeled vehicle to the Magnetic North Pole (a Toyota Hilux AT38 – featured on BBC’s Top Gear), utilizing the capabilities of a Toyota Hilux AT44 for the Antarctica & Greenland crossings with Expedition7, and most recently supporting the Pole to Pole EV expedition in which a Nissan Ariya EV – upfitted with 39” tires by Arctic Trucks – drove from the Magnetic North Pole to the South Pole.

Arctic Trucks, Ford Super Duty, Expedition trucks, Adventure Rigs, Overlanding, Overland, off-road,

So Arctic Trucks is now launching in the US. Tell us about how this came about and why? 

Launching in North America has been a desire of Arctic Trucks for years – it was always a juggling match of having the right vehicle and upfit at the right time. Much of our product portfolio has been based on platforms not available in North America, such as Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max. As our global customer base grew, we received more inquiries for solutions with greater carrying capacities than existing products, the perfect jumping off point to leverage a domestic full-size truck for North America. While R&D was underway, we established our US headquarters Cheyenne, Wyoming and by November 2022, we were building our first trucks in this facility.

What rig platforms are you’re choosing for the US market and why? 

We launched with perhaps the most versatile platform ever produced by Arctic Trucks – the Ford Super Duty AT44, available in both 4×4 and 6×6 configurations. These trucks are massively capable. They’re equipped with our 44” Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires, a radial winter tire co-developed between Nokian and Arctic Trucks. The trucks debuted to the public in early 2023, supporting the Pole to Pole EV Expedition in the Canadian Arctic. They departed from Cheyenne, Wyoming and drove all the way to the Magnetic North Pole and back, a journey spanning roughly 7,000 miles over an array of terrain – highway, rock fields, deep snow, even ice roads. The versatility of these trucks is second to none and we can configure each build to suit the environment they’ll operate in – we have multiple tire options, suspension enhancements such as linked air suspension systems, central tire inflation, etc. In addition to Super Duty’s, we have several new and exciting applications coming in 2024 geared for a more recreation-focused audience.

Arctic Trucks, Ford Super Duty, Expedition trucks, Adventure Rigs, Overlanding, Overland, off-road,

Will the feature spec be a global spec or more specific to the US consumer? 

It depends on the vehicle and nature of the upfit – most of our efforts are aimed at producing functional products for the US and Canada, but there are certainly instances where an upfit could apply globally or design efforts for one platform can be carried to another. For example, some might be aware of the Toyota Prado upfits by Arctic Trucks that are quite popular in areas of Europe. We don’t have the Prado in the US, but we do have the Lexus GX 460 which is on the same LC 150 platform. 

When will we see Arctic Trucks hit the trails in the US and tell us about your roll out launch strategy?  Will you guys be attending any shows? 

2023 was our first full year of building vehicles for North America, most of which were AT44 4×4 and 6×6’s delivered to commercial users in Canada and Alaska. We did make a soft appearance at Overland Expo West in 2023, displaying an F-150 AT44 prototype in the Comeup Winch booth. We also had a Super Duty 6×6 equipped with a Total Composites camper – the same one that ventured to the Magnetic North Pole – subtly parked far away from the action in the camping areas. It was really fun to see the reactions and excitement from fans of the brand. This year, we have a dedicated booth at Overland Expo West where we will have a variety of new products on display. There are a few commercial and defense focused shows we’ll be exhibiting at as well.

TC AT44, Arctic Trucks, Ford Super Duty, Expedition trucks, Adventure Rigs, Overlanding, Overland, off-road,

What’s been the greatest challenge to date for Arctic Trucks entering the US?

It’s difficult to pick only one! Though Arctic Trucks is known by many die-hard fans, we’re relatively unknown in North America broadly speaking. For our AT44’s, much of our efforts have been towards demonstrating our alternative to existing snow-capable equipment such as tracked and belted vehicles. Iceland and other European countries have already adopted our vehicles for services such as Search and Rescue and remote infrastructure maintenance; the challenge is to educate customers in North America that there is a simpler, more cost effective, and more efficient option. Expanding our portfolio to introduce products that customers are asking for is always a challenge too, particularly when there is so much built-up anticipation from seeing all kinds of Arctic Trucks vehicles abroad over the years. We’re trying for sure, but it will take time for us to build out our product offerings to the extent we’d like. We have a small, yet passionate team that lives and breathes this stuff, working hand-in-hand with our Icelandic and other global counterparts to bring these products to fruition. We have an exciting year ahead of us for certain.

HEART OF STONE NETFLIX, Arctic Trucks, Ford Super Duty, Expedition trucks, Adventure Rigs, Overlanding, Overland, off-road,

Where can an interested consumer see your platforms and with the size of the States, do you intend to work with dealer partners?

Given the nature of our current and planned product portfolio – which varies from commercial-oriented work trucks to less extreme 4×4 vehicle upgrades – we’ll have different types of distribution channels. Currently, we have two terrific partners in Canada who are Arctic Trucks Authorized dealers distributing Super Duty AT44’s primarily to commercial clients – Whitehorse Motors in Whitehorse, YT and Aurora Ford in Yellowknife, NT. Alongside the AT44s, some of our new products coming to market in 2024 are intended for the 4×4 enthusiast crowd, or someone seeking a highly capable year-round overlanding vehicle.

arctic trucks flatbed

We do have some new Ford-based products on the horizon, including the Ford Lightning, which we’ve been having a lot of fun testing on up to 39” tires. In addition to Ford, there are other Toyota-based upfits in the works which we hope will put a smile on the face of many existing fans. I can’t specify much more at this point but be sure to keep an eye out in early mid 2024 for new product announcements.

Ford Lightning AT39, Arctic Trucks, Ford Super Duty, Expedition trucks, Adventure Rigs, Overlanding, Overland, off-road,

As a passionate overlander yourself, what’s been your favorite trip you’ve taken and finally, what’s it like to drive an AT44 in the wilds of Iceland? 

I’ve been fortunate to have taken quite a few memorable trips over the years, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Iceland is quite the place to explore. Even before my affiliation with Arctic Trucks, I’ve been back time and time again over the span of several years. The first time experiencing the full capabilities of an AT44 up on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier was probably the most memorable. There was around 3-4 feet of fresh snow atop several feet of hard packed snow and the AT44’s could cruise effortlessly due to the floatation provided by the 44” Nokians. Quite unique to be on top of a glacier looking out over beaches and the ocean. You don’t necessarily need to be in a supremely capable vehicle to have a good time either – lots of exploring in the highlands can be accomplished with a modest 4×4 vehicle, and the amazing scenery seems endless. Plus, the northern lights! It’s hard to beat.

Thanks for spending the time with us today, Kyle. Can’t wait to get a test drive in one of the Arctic Trucks! 

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Raised in beautiful but rainy England, Andy moved to the sunny climes of Southern California in 1995 and hasn’t looked back since. Two and half decades working in the outdoor, bike and surf industries has given him a thirst for adventure and living life without a ceiling. When not working on the website, he can be found surfing Californian beaches, or in remote mountain or desert areas, either primitive camping, mountain biking or embarking upon vehicle assisted adventure in the backcountry with one of The Adventure Portal rigs.