High-end Vehicle Outfitter EarthCruiser Calls it Quits After 16 Years


Bend-based overland pioneer saw a boom during the pandemic — but demand soon waned.

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Oregon custom vehicle manufacturer EarthCruiser announced last month that it’s closing shop after 16 years in business.

The closure was effective April 25, according to a statement by company president Lance Gillies.

“Despite EarthCruiser’s many successes, changing market dynamics and economic challenges have made it increasingly difficult to sustain operations going forward,” reads the statement. “The decision to close the business was not taken lightly, but after careful consideration and in-depth strategic analysis the company has made the decision to wind down operations in its current form.”

In 2013, Gillies relocated his company from Australia to Bend. At its peak, EarthCruiser employed 50 people, among them designers, engineers and technicians. In addition to converting vehicles, the company built self-contained 4×4 “world exploration” vehicles that cost upward of $600,000.

EarthCruiser saw an explosion of interest when the pandemic hit but ultimately succumbed to supply chain issues, high interest rates and waning interest in life in built-out vans, according to reporting by Oregon Public Broadcasting. A rep said scaling such a complex business model was especially difficult in Central Oregon where operating costs are high and skilled labor is rare.

Fourteen people were employed at the time of the closure announcement.

EarthCruiser’s experience tracks with broader struggles in the van conversion industry. When the pandemic closed offices and other public spaces, many people sought escape in nature. Vans offered a cheaper, lower-key alternative to traditional recreational vehicles. A number of companies popped up in Bend, Hood River and elsewhere in Oregon to meet this demand.

OPB reports outdoors-minded customers now have more options, including less-expensive used vans — many purchased during the pandemic.

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