ZaiLab industrial design

We Did it Again. What is it With Zailab and Space Vehicles?

Take one Mercedes Benz W123 circa 1980, one visionary software company CEO and four plucky industrial designers and what do you get? A cross between a Star Wars pod racer and the Batmobile, obviously.

When we unleashed our futuristic ZaiTruck into the world we had no idea the grand adventures that would follow. Not only did it drive from Cape Town to Cairo and then cross the ocean into Europe – now it’s on a grand road trip across America.

We didn’t think it would travel so far and wide, but we never doubted that it could. That’s because the ZaiTruck was custom-created by our brilliant industrial design team and built to last.

We don’t make space vehicles. And as much as our industrial design team would love to spend their days conceptualizing over-the-top spacecraft, they’re mostly preoccupied with designing Zailab’s range of contact center hardware and other cool projects like our kickass expo stand.

But sometimes our CEO Nour Addine Ayyoub has other ideas, and if there’s one trait that describes our industrial designers to a T, it’s that they never back down from an adventure. (In fact, none of us does.)

Evan Hughes wasn’t surprised when Nour Addine proposed building a mutant vehicle for a giant outdoor party together. It would it be a good test of his skills, but mostly… mostly it was going to be tons of fun (and the chance to skive off work for a month).

Nour Addine had a clear concept in mind of what he wanted. A well-documented lover of all things sci-fi, he wanted the vehicle to resemble a rocket car, with space-y boosters on the side. But most importantly it had to be able to drive around the desert without hassle.

There’s a reason he went to an industrial designer for help.

ZaiLab industrial design
Before the transformation

‘First we needed to find the right vehicle to serve as a strong base,’ says Evan. ‘We needed something that could be cut up easily, with a decent suspension and preferably made of steel. Most modern vehicles are made up of aluminum and aren’t strong enough to build on to.’

Evan found a Mercedes Benz W123 on Gumtree and stripped it down in a day. Over the next month he was joined by a rotation of Zailab industrial design teammates to transform the vehicle into something incredible.

The concept changed a few times as Nour Addine considered different shapes and additions. ‘Thank goodness we didn’t go with the extra axle to make it longer. I wouldn’t be able to find a trailer long enough to transport it,’ says Evan.

His initial idea was to build the additions with steel, but to keep within budget opted for wood instead. Wood entailed a lot more work, but in no time at all the mutant vehicle emerged, ready for its debut outing.

ZaiLab industrial design
It’s like a pod racer met the Batmobile.

Evan and fellow industrial designer Lize Loftie-Eaton joined Nour Addine to unleash their creation on festival-goers. ‘We had so much fun driving around in it and cruising slowly around enjoying everyone’s reactions. People liked what we built,’ says Evan.

Personally, we think it’s another amazing example of our industrial design team’s skill and ingenuity.

ZaiLab industrial design
The Neon Nightmare.