Comments from BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson and Polk registration data for UTVs indicate a strong September for the UTV market and Polaris outperforming the market. The data shows UTV registrations increased 19.1% for the industry and 21.6% for Polaris. (The story does not specify but it is assumed that comparisons are for the same time periods from the prior year.) Dealer interviews point to a strong showing for Polaris’s Ranger XP 900 and the Ranger 800 mid-size UTVs. The analyst predicts 18% growth for the company’s ATV and UTV sales in the 4Q, which translates into growth of over 20% for the UTV segment based on recent sales patterns. Growth is being driven by replacement demand, new riders and share starting to being taken from Jeeps, pick-ups and SUVs. It is unclear from the article if the latter is specifically referring to the recreational end of the UTV market or from the market in general. If it is the general market, this is not a new trend, as municipalities, universities and the like have been replacing pickups with UTVs and other STOVs for a number of years. We believe this is one of the reasons why UTVs continued to have strong growth despite the recession. For both fiscal reasons and to meet ‘green’ or sustainability goals institutions have been replacing pick-ups with gas or electric powered UTVs and other STOVs. Learn more: Powersportsbusiness.com
EV Green USA, a manufacturer of small electric vehicles, has opened their second sales location in Cathedral City, CA. Franchise owner Darryl Atkinson sees the economic advantages of the vehicles as the primary driver for demand with environmental benefits as secondary. EV Green USA produces a wide range of electric LSV models from those used for personal transportation to commercial shuttles to work utility vehicles and off-road hunting vehicles. Prices range from $10,500 to $14,500 for the vehicles that are assembled in Norco, CA from a mixture of mostly China sourced components and some US sourced parts. Learn more: Mydesert.com
Fallbrook Technology and TEAM Industries announced an exclusive licensing agreement for Fallbrook’s NuVinc CVP (continuously variable planetary) technology in North America and Europe for the STOV market. Under the agreement, TEAM will have “…manufacturing rights for their light utility and recreational vehicle families for North America and Europe and includes an engineering services agreement (ESA) for the development of a NuVinci vehicle transmission, with development running through 2013 and into 2014. The agreement also provides for royalties with commercialization volume milestones beginning in 2015.” The agreement covers the ATV, UTV, LSV and NEV markets. The companies have been working together since 2011. Learn more: Marketwatch.com
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Kawasaki Motors, today announced a voluntary recall fuel filters and tune-up kits with fuel filters. The recalled fuel filters are white translucent plastic and attach to the fuel tubes on Kawasaki lawn mower and utility vehicle engines. The fuel filter can leak, posing a fire hazard. To date all the reported leaks caused by the fuel filter have been on lawn mowers. Learn more: CPSC.gov
Related to this recall John Deere announced a recall of approximately 4,340 utility vehicles using this type of fuel filter. This recall involves John Deere TH, TS and TX-model Gator™ utility vehicles that have Kawasaki FE, FH and FJ series engines. The serial numbers of the UTVs included in the recall are:
1M04X2SJ++M070915 to 1M04X2SJ++M072247
1M04X2XC++M070040 to 1M04X2XC++M070213
1M04X2XD++M070314 to 1M04X2XD++M072731
1M06X4HD++M070049 to 1M06X4HD++M070372
They were sold nationwide from November 2011 to August 2012. Owners should stop using utility vehicles with the recalled engines and contact a John Deere dealer to have the fuel filter replaced. John Deere is contacting all registered owners of the recalled utility vehicles directly. John Deere can be contacted at (800) 537-8233. Learn more: CPSC.gov
Some trends in this latest regulation roundup:
- The few remaining states without LSV laws have enacted laws allowing the vehicles or are moving in that direction.
- A majority of the local municipalities noted below are passing ordinances that allow both LSVs and golf cars to be used on public roads.
- There appears to be less concerns being raised about safety issues of the vehicles in mixed traffic.
- More municipalities are passing ordinances that allow UTVs and/or ATVs on public roads but in some areas there are some restrictions.
- Municipalities across a number of states are passing ordinances with the highest activity in Florida, followed by Nebraska, whose state law just went into effect this year.
State Level Regulations
Nebraska – Nebraska’s state law allowing LSVs on streets with a posted speed limit of less than 35 mph went into effect at the beginning of 2012. The law requires drivers to carry liability insurance coverage, hold a valid operator’s license and register.
West Virginia – A State Senate bill was moving through the legislature again to allow LSVs on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
Mississippi – State lawmakers are debating a law to allow LSVs on public roads.
New York – The State Senate passed two bills aimed at making it easier for drivers to register UTVs and for farmers to use ATVs on public roads for agricultural purposes.
Vermont & New Hampshire – The states passed legislation that allows properly registered ATVs in one state to use the authorized state ATV trails in the other state. The legislation does not apply to UTVs.
Municipality Level Regulations
Tradition, FL – Residents are discussing allowing both LSVs and golf cars on public roads. Some residents are concerned about the safety of mixing lower speed vehicles with regular traffic and that golf cars do not have the same safety features as LSVs. Others see the vehicles a way to lessen traffic, reduce gas emissions and allow for older residents to get around independently. The lower costs of insuring golf cars is seen as more manageable for fixed income seniors.
DeFuniak Springs, FL – The city is considering allowing LSVs and golf cars on certain public roads. One reason is to make the community more retirement friendly.
Holtville, CA – A new sub-committee was formed to work on an ordinance that would approve the use of electric vehicles and golf carts on city streets
Clearwater, FL – The city passed an ordinance to regulate LSVs/golf cars and other alternative transportation vehicles for higher. “The regulations would require business owners to register with the city, carry a minimum of $500,000 insurance, and show a mechanic’s certification that their vehicles are in safe condition. Aside from costs to meet those requirements, business owners also will be looking at paying a $75 application fee and $50 permit fee for each driver of the for hire vehicles.”
Vernon, British Columbia – The town council will consider an ordinance that allows LSVs on public roads.
Rockport, TX – The city passed an ordinance allowing golf cars and LSVs to be used on streets with speed limites of 35 mph or less.
Bristol. TN – The city Council rejected an ordinance that would have restricted LSVs to roads with speed limits of 25 mph or less compared to the current 35 mph or less.
Herington, KS – City officials passed an ordinance that allows golf cars and similar on-road utility vehicles to use public roads during daylight hours.
Enon, OH – Legislation is moving forward that would allow golf cars and UTVs, referred to as under-speed vehicles by the city, to use city streets with speed limites of 35 mph or less.
Crothersville, IN – A City Councilman introduced a bill that would allow ATVs and UTVs to operate on city streets. The law is modeled on the city’s current ordinance that allows golf cars on city streets.
Nidec Corporation, a multi-billion dollar global manufacturer of small and medium sized motors, recently completed their acquisition of Kinetek, Inc., a developer of custom engineered control, motor and drive system solutions. Kinetek will operate as an independent business unit as part of Nidec Motor Corporation (NMC), which manufactures commercial, industrial, and appliance motors and controls. Kinetek sells to the golf car market as well as the elevator, floor care, commercial food/refrigeration, material handling and aerial lift markets. Kinetek product lines include AC, DC, and brushless DC electric motors, pumps, gearing, gearboxes, fans, transaxles, human machine interface products (membrane switch assemblies, graphic overlays), electronic controls/systems and end products. Learn more: Kinetekinc.com
I’ve seen a number of stories in the past year from various industries about companies moving production back to the US. Usually they are moving back from China but in this case Honda is moving their UTV production from Mexico to South Carolina. The Timmonsville, SC location is expected to be ready for UTV production in the summer of 2013. The Honda Big Red UTVs will be for the US and global export markets. Currently the facility is dedicated to ATV production but the UTV market has outpaced and surpassed the ATV market in recent years. The Mexico facility will produce two-wheeled products for the Mexican market. Learn more: Roadracingworld.com