This is no amateur-doing-submarines-for-fun project. It is 100% commercial production – one fully-functional mini submarine for 200,000 yuan.
(News source: Sina) On Hongguang Road, Wuhan, there is a deserted textile machinery factory built in the 80s. It is where Zhang Wuyi, our mini submarine master was laid off from. Now he rents one of the workshops for his mini submarine studio. The dark red tea pot looking thing in the picture below is his second finished product and also one that will soon be handed over to its buyer.
The mini submarine startup has already got more than 10 employees, including Zhang Wuyi, the Director, and a couple of engineers and workers. Their only office is in a classroom-size room with 5 desks, an outdated computer, no AC and not even windows – they use a red plastic cloth to keep out the wind.
In an interview with Wuhan Wanbao, Zhang said when he first saw the work of Li Yuming, the first man in China who ever built a submarine from scratch, he thought the idea of a submarine studio was a joke. Now Zhang uses Li’s fin tail patent on all his mini submarines.
Zhang is 37 years old now and is only a high-school graduate. What prompts him to start a mini submarine studio is more than just fun and interests. He sees the business opportunity behind mini submarines. There is a market – professions and businesses that require significant underwater time. He put all he has into the business and luckily, he already got 3 buyers this year.
What they build may look like a toy, but it has everything needed for simple underwater work, such as font arms capable of grabbing and lifting, an underwater video camera for monitoring, emergency oxygen generator for the driver and the function that allows the driver to get rid of unnecessary weights in case of emergency, all of which makes it perfect for services like reservoir maintenance, river-bed cleaning or underwater fishing. The mini submarine has enough room for two people and has a limit of 30 meters’ deep. It is also said to be able to drive at 20 kilometers per hour for 10 hours.
Zhang’s first customer, Cong Zhijie, was in the business of sea cucumbers (sea cucumbers are very popular dishes on China’s dining tables, and expensive, too). According to Cong, “[The mini submarine] drives not as flexible as a car but works pretty well.” They used to hire professional divers for sea cucumber fishing, and now Zhang’s mini submarine saves him a lot of money.