4x4 dream hat off, hardnosed biz hat on
So you are going to have to balance the ideals and the costs - most shops fall down on this; they act like cost-plus contractors. Competing in the biz on price to some degree, while offering something unique is definitely a challenge.
I think your read on $45K is right; that may be just above your desired price point. You can negotiate with suppliers, especially if you do one-stop shopping. Marlin comes to mind due to breadth of product, generally good quality, name recognition, and cost competitiveness, and your idea of common minitruck powerplants is a good way to hold cost while providing the All-Toyota unique niche. Marlin may be motivate to expand into a niche he only dabbles in. It's something not many have done and I think there's merit to it.
If you can bring the price down below $40K and still be profitable, unique, and strong, I think you can sell it.
33x9.50? I wouldn't. Odd. 33x12.50 or 35x12.50 is more common and will give you an expected look. I think I'd go with selectable lockers too. Or offer them as options. For that matter, you can pick certain option packages that do not impact your production process costs much one way or the other, and upsell - or offer the base model at your price point, the customer decides. That way you're flexible and sorta custom without the attendant time/cost impact.
Seems to me your ideal customer is what GM pretends to target with their Hummer knockoffs: the outdoorsy, fairly successful midlife professional, but in your case one who actually knows something about 4x4s, and will notice and appreciate that yours are real. You can appeal to that knowledge and add to it. The traditional Cruiser owner may resist your approach, similar to the traditional Harley owner last decade. Harley overcame this and expanded beyond the traditional customer as a result, without overly alienating the traditional customer.
Your chief challenges are not design, but supply/production cost containment, and niche marketing IMHO. Areas in which your competition frankly falls down IMHO.
Heb Dduw, heb ddim; Duw a digon
I'm that gun-totin', farm-raised, evangelical, pro-environment, OHV ridin'/drivin', Southern civil rights pro-labor Liberal yo' momma told you couldn't possibly exist.
Last edited by Red_Chili; 11-29-2005 at 09:41 AM.