Antarctica Puts e-Ride Industries Vehicles To The Test

Antarctica Puts EVs To The Test

e-Ride Industries EXV2 Arriving At Antarctica

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has begun testing the performance of two electric powered utility vehicles from e-Ride Industries under the extreme conditions of Antarctica.  The EXV2 models will face temperatures down to -50F at McMurdo Station.  If they perform well, the largely diesel powered fleet of vehicles at the station could start being replaced with more efficient and less resource intensive EVs.  The cost of transporting fuel to the station is expensive and there are pollution concerns in the largely pristine environment.  The station already has renewable solar and wind energy to power the vehicles.

The vehicles were equipped with insulation and heaters for the batteries.  The performance of the batteries in such cold conditions is the primary performance concern.  The vehicles also have data loggers and performance data will be captured for at least year.  They have been operational for a month already and are used daily, logging over 70 hours and 140 miles so far.  Learn more:

Wheego Starts Selling Highway Capable Vehicle

Wheego LiFe Electric Vehicle

Wheego's Highway Capable LiFe Electric Vehicle

LSV manufacturer Wheego has started selling their LiFe electric vehicle to customers.  The two-passenger vehicle is capable of speeds up to 65 mph and has a range of 100 miles.  The car is priced at $32,995, on par with the Nissan Leaf, but for two passengers instead of four.  Learn more:

Innovation On The Farm

While technically not a STOV since it is a pickup truck, I thought this story of innovation on the farm was interesting and could be applied to a STOV just as easily.  A farmer in Oregon, with the help of a friend, converted a diesel pickup to an all electric.  While this is not common it has certainly been done before, but the real innovation was developing a remote control to operate the truck.  Not only does the truck save on fuel but operations that required two people could now be managed by one.

…Feeding cattle is now a one-man operation, saving on hired labor. Anderson can start, steer, throttle and stop the truck with a hand-held remote control device from up to 500 feet away. He can feed off the back while driving with the remote. He can also honk the horn from the remote if cattle get in front of the rig. Driving through gates no longer requires a second person to keep the cattle from running into the next pasture.  As an added benefit, Anderson said that during calving he can check the cows at night without disrupting them because the truck is so quiet….

Other benefits typical of electric vehicles also apply such as low maintenance and no vehicle emissions.  Learn more:

Polaris Acquires GEM

Yesterday Polaris Industries announced that they will acquire Global Electric Motorcars, LLC (GEM) from the Chrysler Group.  GEM has annual sales estimated to be $30 million and has been the leading LSV manufacturer.  IMS estimates their annual sales volume to be around 3,000 units, although they have been under pressure lately as more manufacturers have entered the market.  The sale will take about two months to complete and will strengthen Polaris’s On-Road division.  Polaris also recently acquired Indian Motorcycle.   Learn more:

Comment:  GEM is strong in the commercial LSV segment particularly in government and fleet sales to end user such as parks and universities.  Polaris already has their Breeze LSV for the consumer personal transportation market and an LSV version of their Ranger EV which originally targeted the military segment but has commercial applications as well.  The acquisition gives Polaris probably the most recognized brand in the LSV market and saves them time and money spent developing a brand of their own.  GEM has not substantially changed their vehicles in recent years so they will definitely benefit from high level and continuous innovation that Polaris puts into their product lines, as witnessed by their model development in the UTV market.  In addition, Polaris has an existing network of dealers that is around ten times the size of GEM’s current network.  The acquisition could add a real boost to the level of competition in the LSV market.

Another question is whether Polaris will be seeking more acquisitions in this space.  While GEM is more oriented to the commercial market, a company like Tomberlin produces LSVs targeting the consumer market.  Tomberlin’s management has a relationship with Polaris from helping them develop some of their off-road products in the past.  Tomberlin also has other products such as the Vanish electric UTV, electric ATVs and the Schwinn brand of scooters that could supplement Polaris’s existing product lines .

NEV Plan Wins Urban Land Institute Award

From the press release:

A conceptual effort that would allow cities in Riverside County to plan and implement networks allowing Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) has received a “Vision Award” from the Orange County/Inland Empire Chapter of the Urban Land Institute. The  Western Riverside Council of Governments’ 4-City Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Transportation Plan created potential NEV routes connecting the cities of Corona, Norco, Moreno Valley and Riverside….Key components of the plan include a low to no cost Phase One network that leverages prior infrastructure investments (Class II bike routes) connecting employment, housing and activity centers. A long range phase is included to provide a complete backbone network over time.  Learn more: (pdf);

4 City NEV Plan(pdf)

Arctic Cat Reveals New 2012 Wildcat UTV


Arctic Cat revealed a new UTV, the Wildcat, at their recent snowmobile dealer show. Management did not provide many specifics about the vehicle but stated that the vehicle could be in dealer showrooms in fiscal year 2012 which ends in March 2012.  The vehicle looks to be targeted towards the pure sport end of the market and the CEO mentioned an “extremely capable suspension”.  Learn more:

Road Use Regulations Roundup – April, 2011

Some themes in this latest regulation roundup:

  • A couple of the few remaining states without LSVs law are in the process of debating LSV bills.
  • More municipalities pass ordinances allowing the use of LSVs on public low speed roads.  The Midwest and North Carolina are the most active areas.
  • Safety and congestion are a consistent issue during debates over LSV ordinances.
  • Ordinances allowing use of off-road vehicles on public roads generate both support and resistance.

State Level Regulations

Mississippi – Some residents are asking the state legislature to pass a law allowing the use of LSVs on public roads.

Nebraska – A bill is moving through the state legislature that will allow for the use of LSVs on public roads.  This year’s bill excludes golf cars.

Virginia – A bill will likely become law that expands the mobility of golf cars and utility vehicles.  While the bill is restricted to the town of Colonial Beach, it does set a precedent of allowing the vehicles to cross state highways at designated golf car crossings regardless of the state highway’s speed limit.  Currently there was a speed limit restriction of 35 mph. In another bill the state’s parks departments will be able to use golf cars and utility vehicles on roads adjacent to parks as long as the road’ speed limit is 35 mph or less.

New York – A bill is moving through the legislature that would redefine all terrain vehicles (ATV) to include side-by-side utility vehicles that weigh as much as 1,500 pounds, raising the limit from the current 1,000 pounds.  This would allow consumers to register the vehicles and use them for recreational riding where allowed.

Municipality Level Regulations

Waynesville, MO – Councilmen is urging the city to look into an ordinance for LSVs on city streets.  Town officials want to know more about LSVs and the issue of crossing of state highways.

Kansas City, KS – An ordinance was not repealed, which would have allowed residents to operate all-terrain vehicles, micro utility trucks, work-site utility vehicles and golf carts on the city’s streets that feature speed limits of 30 miles an hour or less. The issue may be revisited since the vote was close and the mayor wants more consensus.

Columbus, NE – City officials did not pass a bill that would have allowed expanded use of UTVs on public streets.  Concern about the vehicles operating in higher volume and higher speed traffic was the issue.

Muskego, WI – City officials are discussing allowing LSVs on public roads. Issues of concern are safety and traffic congestion.

Pardeeville, WI – A committee recommended to the full city board a proposal to allow LSVs on public roads.

Columbiana, OH – City officials are considering an ordinance to allow LSVs on public roads.

La Grange, NC – An ordinance was passed allowing golf cars and LSVs to be used on public roads.  Traffic congestion is a concern.

Landis, NC – Town officials are planning a town meeting to discuss an ordinance allowing the use of LSVs on public streets.

Oak Island, NC – The city council had been discussing allowing modified golf cars on public roads but decided not to pursue an ordinance.  The city already allows LSVs.

Rockport, TX – City officials pass ordinance that allows golf cars and LSVs to be used on public streets.

Juneau, AK – City officials are proposing a code change to allow LSVs on public roads, in part to allow the US Forest Service to drive to and from their offices using an electric vehicle they are planning on purchasing.  The ordinance includes a provision that drivers pull over if traffic builds up behind them.

News Briefs

Florida’s First All Electric Car & Truck Dealership Opens – Suncoast Electric Vehicles recently opened in St. Petersburg, FL.  The all electric vehicle dealership carries the Wheego Whip and a line of Vantage vans and trucks.  Learn more:

Deland, FL Uses Stimulus Funds For LSVs – DeLand, FL was selected for an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, part of the fedreal stimulus money intended to reduce fuel emissions and energy use.  The city is using part of the $1.2 million in grant money to purchase five LSVs to replace fossil fuel driven vehicles in the city’s fleet.  Learn more:

Club Car Custom Designs Help Fight Cancer – As part of a fund-raising effort for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, Club Car has hired a local artist to create custom paint designs on Club Car golf cars and utility vehicles.  The design for each vehicle relate to the business making a donation and the vehicle will be displayed at the business during Masters Week.  Club Car matches each business donation.  Afterward the vehicles will be sold through Club Car’s dealer network to anyone interested in purchasing them.   Learn more: