A recent story from a small town in Iowa highlights the increased usage of golf cars. As more towns have passed ordinances allowing golf car use within city limits, more consumers are turning to the vehicles as an alternative to highway-speed vehicles for short trips to the local grocery store or cafe. In many cases drivers are motivated by conservation concerns so the golf cars are predominantly electric powered. When it comes to local ordinances, there is somewhat of a domino effect from town to town as officials observe the initiatives of neighboring towns.
Luxury golf car manufacturer Garia has launched an LSV version of their Garia Golf Car.
The Garia features a Formula 1 inspired front suspension, a drive train built by an Italian company that also produces Ducati gearboxes, and aluminum profiles made by the same company that supplies aluminum profiles to Aston Martin, Jaguar and Volvo. Available in August 2010, The Garia LSV is fitted with street legal safety equipment such as seatbelts and side mirrors, and it also has a hydraulic brake system.
HighFlex Solar – This early stage startup produces flexible lightweight solar panels for a variety of uses including for the automotive market.
The flexible panels dispense with the ‘glass sandwich’ approach used by most photovoltaic module vendors. Treves [the CEO] claims that this allows for a six-percent increase in power generation because of increased transmissivity. This also potentially allows a lot more of the environment in — so Treves has to prove that the product can handle thermal cycling, impact and UV.
Lithium Air Batteries – Companies large and small such as IBM and PolyPlus of Berkeley, CA are working to develop lithium air batteries which could potentially greatly increase the power to weight ratio of lithium based batteries. PolyPlus uses a ceramic membrane that allows oxygen to pass but not water which would be a problem given the highly reactive nature of lithium. IBM is on track to develop a demo battery based on their technology for a full-size car by mid-decade. Learn more: Forbes.com
According to news reports the Oklahoma Legislature recently passed a law that eliminated tax credits for electric vehicles. In previous years the tax credits were 50% of the purchase price, and, combined with federal tax credits, created a large market for LSVs in 2009 while negatively impacting state revenues. Learn more: Adaeveningnews.com
New Teryx™ 750 FI 4×4 LE – Kawasaki has introduced a a new Teryx™ 750 FI 4×4 LE. Key features include:
- Liquid-cooled, 749cc SOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder, fuel-injected, 90-degree V-twin engine
- Realtree APG HD camouflaged bodywork, wheels, front bumper, roof and dashboard
- Digital fuel injection
- Continuously Variable Transmission features high and low ranges, a reverse gear, very direct feel from the engine, and instantaneous acceleration
- Limited-slip front differential reduces steering effort under normal four-wheel drive operation, while Variable Front Differential Control permits rider to distribute torque equally to left and right front wheels for maximum traction via a hand lever located between the seats
- Selectable two- or four-wheel-drive operation, via dash-mounted switch
- Suspension designed for high-speed operation over varying terrain
- Large 7.4-gal. (28L) fuel tank
Bobcat offers new UTV lineup – Bobcat recently unveiled their new lineup of four utility vehicles: 3200 (4×2), 3400 (4×4), 3400 XL (up to 6 riders; 4×4) and 3450 (4×4). Key features:
- Diesel engine is available in all but the 3200
- All models feature increased horsepower
- Top speed has increased to 30 mph.
- High (30 mph max) and low-speed gearing (15 mph max)
- Increased payload capacity (up to 33% more)
- Electronic fuel injected gas engines
- Four-wheel independent suspension (MacPherson struts, front; 5-way preload adjustable rear shocks with two optional mounting positions for load carrying)
- 3450 includes Bobcat’s exclusive RapidLink attachment mounting system
- All-new frame
The vehicles are a result of Bobcat’s strategic alliance with Polaris Industries to develop vehicles for the work segment . Learn more: ATVmagblog.com
Can-Am enters UTV market with Commander 800 and 1000 models – Powersports manufacturer Can-Am has entered the UTV market with their Commander 800 and 1000 models which have 71 hp and 85 hp engines respectively. The vehicles features give them a mix of work qualities as well as those for aggressive trail riding. For a more complete review of the vehicle features and technologies Learn more: ATVmagonline.com
John Deere launches new lineup of crossover utility vehicles (XUVs) – The leading model of Deere’s new trio of XUVs is the XUV 825i which features a 50 hp engine and a top speed of 44 mph. The XUV lineup designed for both work applications and the needs of the “outdoor enthusiast”. Key features include:
- An 815cc, liquid cooled, inline 3-cylinder engine with 4 valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams and electronic fuel injection.
- Re-designed front and rear independent suspension system designed for less body roll and superior side-hill stability with either no-load or maximum cargo.
- 1500 lbs. of towing and 1400 lbs. of payload capacity.
- New hybrid metal and composite cargo box with 16.4 cu. ft. of capacity and an available factory installed spray-in bed liner with 20 integrated tie downs
- New braking system that improves stopping performance over previous models.
Highlighting some of the many applications for small, task-oriented vehicles
Park Maintenance – Gardeners in Astley Park in Chorley, UK are pleased with their new Gator. The vehicle is used to manage the woodland, keep footpaths clear and maintain the flowering gardens. According to Councillor Eric Bell, Chorley Council’s Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, “The new machine is a lot more versatile. It means that our gardeners can reach all parts of the magnificent Astley Park a lot easier saving time and money .” Learn more: Chorleycitizen.co.uk
Forest Preserve Policing & Trolley – Managers of the Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville, IL are looking for sponsorship to support the acquisition of electric vehicles for policing and transporting tourists around the grounds. The vehicles from Cruise Car are electric powered and supplanted with solar power which can increase vehicle range by 30 percent. The police vehicle is small enough for patrolling on trails and according to Mike Tully, the district’s director of operations and public safety, “It’s a very visible vehicle but at the same time it’s not obtrusive. It’s approachable. It doesn’t give you that police-car-on-the-prowl look.” Vehicle sponsors would have their company logos and graphics prominently placed on the vehicles. Learn more: Dailyherald.com
Bad Boy Enterprises recently announced they were recalling 370 of their 2009-2010 Classic LSVs because of an acceleration problem. According to reports “…water getting onto the accelerator can cause a voltage surge that will cause the vehicle to accelerate without the pedal being pressed.” The company has also told the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) that based on what they have seen in these LSVs a fix to an acceleration problem for a previous recall involving 3,900 vehicles will not solve the problem in those vehicles. The company is investigating what additional steps may be needed regarded those vehicles. Learn more: Wheels.blogs.nytimes.com
A couple of weeks ago I posted a story about IIHS crash testing of LSVs and their belief that the vehicles shouldn’t be used on public roads. Since then I’ve noticed that IIHS has been very successful in getting their of point view out in traditional media and blogs. Weeks later and the story is still being picked up various media outlets. It is too early to tell if the extensive coverage of these crash tests will lead to any restrictions on the use of LSVs on public roads.
However, I believe the course of events highlights an issue in the LSV industry. There is no “voice of the industry” that can forcefully and effectively articulate a point of view about issues that matter to the industry. In part, this is because of the relatively small size and young age of the industry. In addition, for many manufacturers LSVs are a relatively new and small addition to other established lines of business that produce the bulk of their profits. That being said, LSV manufacturers should start thinking about establishing a manufacturers association or similar body to promote LSVs and respond to industry threats. Instead of having the focus be crash tests, the industry needs to be in the public forum advocating greater integration of LSVs into the overall transportation system that could create a safer environment for all concerned. – Marc Cesare
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), India’s leading producer of SUVs, recently purchased a 55% stake in electric vehicle producer Reva. Maini Group will have a 31% and AEV LLC of California, the joint venture partner, will have 11% stake. The deal included a $10 million cash infusion for Reva, which has produced 3,500 electric vehicles to date. According to reports, 400 vehicles were sold last year mainly in Britain, Germany and Spain.
M&M expects the Indian market for electric vehicles to grow substantially and by 2020 expect to be producing 50,000 electric vehicles annually. Some of the new funds for Reva will be used to increase their current production capacity from 6,000 to 30,000 vehicles per year. A consequence of this deal is that Reva’s work with GM to develop the electric mini Spark has been called off. Learn more: Vamban.com
Despite a growing number of local governments designating roads for NEV use, the vehicles have not attracted many buyers. After Korea passed favorable NEV regulations at the national level earlier this year, 30% of the local government have reported designating local roads for NEV use. this figure is expected to increase rapidly in the coming months. However, manufacturers point to a lack of electric vehicle subsidies and recharging infrastructure as reasons for the lack of NEVs purchases to date and a likely persistent obstacle to market growth moving forward. Learn more: Koreaherald.com