There appears to be less ordinances being passed than in the past.
Iowa experienced the most activity in this latest review.
The trend towards more inclusive ordinances is continuing as allowing golf cars, UTVs and ATVs are the focus of many of the ordinances.
There appears to be more regulatory activity with regards to UTVs and ATVs than low speed vehicles.
While people are still expressing safety concerns about these vehicles being used in mixed traffic situations, they seem to be in the minority and most municipal boards are passing ordinances.
Britt, IA – The city council passed a low speed vehicle ordinance after considerable discussion on whether or not to include golf cars and utility vehicles. The ordinance allows any low-speed or utility type vehicle to be operated on any city street as long as the operator has a driver’s license and obey traffic laws and police. The vehicle must also have approved working lights and other safety features and be registered with the Britt Police Department. The ordinance also covers motorized carts, motorized scooters and electric scooters, although they have a few more restrictions.
Buchanan County, IA – According to the new ordinance, registered ATVs or Off-road Utility vehicles may be operated on gravel roadways in Buchanan County. The main section of the ordinance states, “In the event that a person residing on a county blacktop wishes to operate an ATV or Off-Road Utility Vehicles on the gravel roadways, said person may operate on the shoulder of the county blacktop for a reasonable distance to reach the permissible county gravel roadway. Such operation may begin one hour after sunrise and must cease one hour before sunset. …”
Washington County, IA – Washington County Board of supervisors approved an ordinance to allow all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles on county graveled roadways and Level B roadways. The ordinance does not affect the current use of such vehicles for farming purposes. Only those 16 years and older and holding an Iowa driver’s license will be allowed to operate the vehicles and the vehicles must also be registered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and by Washington County and will not be allowed to carry more passengers than they were designed for. Such vehicles can only travel on the shoulder of a paved county highway until they reach the next gravel road and can only be used between sunrise to sunset. Those opposing the ordinance cited the Specialty Vehicle Institute of American (SVIA), a not-for-profit association representing ATV manufacturers and dealers, which has a strong policy statement against the use of ATVs on public roads. The SVIA states that ATVs are not designed for use on paved surface because of the negative affect on handling and control.
Bronson, KS – Bronson City Council approved an ordinance allowing special purpose vehicles to operate within the city. The special purpose vehicles include all-terrain vehicles, work-site utility vehicles, micro-utility trucks and golf carts. The board also approved picking up general purpose liability insurance in conjunction with the special purpose vehicle ordinance.
Leesburg, FL – City commissioners voted unanimously to allow golf carts, utility vehicles and low-speed vehicles on city-owned and maintained streets in the downtown area. Commissioners are concerned about safety though, so they are requiring that drivers be at least 18 years old in order to have more driving experience.
The new Sportsman ACE from Polaris is one of the reasons for the company’s strong financial results for Q1 2014.
The following are some of the highpoints of the Polaris earnings call discussing their first quarter 2014 financial results with a focus on aspects relevant to the STOV market.
Polaris first quarter sales increased 19% to $888 million.
Net Income increased 7% to $80.9 million.
Management is raising their expectations for full year revenue and earnings to increases of 14%-16% and 17%-18% compared to 2013.
Off-Road Vehicle sales which includes UTVs and ATVs increased 11% and market share improved with good demand for the RZR XP 1000 and the new Sportsman ACE.
In North America management estimated that side-by-side sales retail grew upper single digits in an industry that grew similarly.
The new Sportsman ACE has gotten off to a good start.
PG&A momentum remains very strong with first quarter sales up 20%, parts accessories and apparel all grew strong double-digits led by strength in both ORV and Motorcycle related products.
First quarter Polaris commercial revenues increased by over 60% with sales to Bobcat Polaris national accounts and BRUTUS up notably year-over-year. Commercial segment has grown more slowly than expected by management but they will continue to put resources into this segment.
Small Vehicle first quarter revenue increased by 248% as all three brands, GEM, Goupil and Aixam grew year-over-year. The increase includes the addition of revenue from recently acquired Axiam, which also increased market share in Q1, and an increase of over 20% from the GEM product line.
International business had another strong quarter with sales increasing 44% led by nearly 50% and 60% growth in the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions respectively. Small Vehicles, PG&A and side-by-side sales all grew over 30%.
ORV is now expected to grow 9% to 11% in 2014.
Small Vehicles guidance is unchanged up 25% to 30% which includes the full year of the Aixam acquisition.
ACE orders in both North America and internationally have been better than expected with only minimal signs of cannibalization of either ATVs or side-by-sides.
There is broad based strength across many ORV products.
Management is seeing increased competitiveness and promotions in the side-by-side market.
Management is disappointed in Brutus sales into the commercial segment so far but expect to see improvement over the next 12 months as dedicated sales staff, partnership with Ariens and other efforts help them adjust to the longer B2B and B2G selling cycles in this segment.
Comment: The early signs that the ACE is not cannibalizing ATV and UTV sales is an indicator that Polaris is creating another vehicle category. More time will be needed to see how sales play out over the next 12 months to see if this theses remains true. It’s not only a question of cannibalization but how buyers are actually using the vehicles – what market segments, what applications, etc.
The Cushman Shuttle that is part of the recall by E-Z-GO.
E-Z-GO is recalling approximately 30,000 golf, shuttle and off-road utility vehicles because a steering wheel nut may not have been tightened sufficiently, reducing the driver’s steering control. This can result in a crash. There has only been one reported incident related to the issue and it was a minor injury.
The recall includes E-Z-GO, Cushman and Bad Boy Buggies branded vehicles. Recalled E-Z-GO and Cushman vehicles have serial numbers from 2823208 to 2850425 and from 3000001 to 3003187. Bad Boy Buggies vehicles have serial numbers from 8005089 to 8006013. The recall includes the following models:
E-Z-GO TXT Fleet golf cars
E-Z-GO Freedom TXT, Shuttle 2+2 TXT and Valor personal golf cars all with one bench seat and one rear-facing seat
E-Z-GO Express with two bench seats and one rear-facing seat,
E-Z-GO Terrain with a cargo bed
Cushman Shuttle vehicles
Bad Boy Buggies HD, LD, LTO, and LT Safari utility vehicles
The vehicles were sold between August 2012 through February 2013. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact E-Z-GO or an authorized dealer for a free repair. E-Z-GO and E-Z-GO dealers are already contacting known owners. Consumers can contact E-Z-GO toll-free at (855) 738-3711 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday; or online at www.ezgo.com and click on Product Recall Information or at www.badboybuggies.com and click on Recall Information at the bottom of the page for more information. Learn more: CPSC.gov
Comment: The number of vehicles being recalled is quite large compared to the typical recall in the STOV market, which usually numbers a few hundred to a few thousand vehicles. On the other hand this seems to be only a minor issue and for the company a simple and relatively inexpensive fix. In general, dealers I’ve spoken to believe the quality of the Bad Boy Buggies vehicles has increased significantly since E-Z-GO acquired the company in late 2010. At the time, a large and more serious recall from both a safety and financial standpoint was a major reason the company needed to be sold.
Club Car XRT850 utility vehicles will soon feature a new Subaru EFI engine.
Club Car’s XRT800 and XRT850 utility vehicles manufactured after April, 2014 will use the new Subaru 14-hp rated, 404-cc, single-cylinder overhead cam engines with electronic fuel injection (EFI). The new engine represents a 30 percent increase in horsepower and the EFI technology will allow for more reliable starting, better fuel efficiency and in general improved performance. The Subaru’s splash lubrication system requires no oil filter eliminating the need for buying, changing and disposing of filters.
Comment: EFI technology is an example of automobile technology that has migrated into the STOV market. Technology migration such as this typically starts with higher-priced, specialty or higher performance models in the market. In the case of EFI technology, it first started appearing in the high-end recreational side-by-sides and in vehicles for work applications that had higher performance requirements. Now EFI is moving to smaller, less expensive vehicles like these Club Car XRTs which are compact UTVs. Another example is Yamaha’s use of EFI engines in their golf car and utility vehicle product lines.
The Star EV 48-4SF NEV is one of the Star EV models that was recently CARB certified.
JH Global Services announced that 19 models under their Star EV brand have received certification from the California Air Resource Board (CARB) as zero-emission neighborhood electric vehicles. CARB certified the models in March, 2014 after almost a two year process. The certification will be help when marketing the vehicles in other states that follow the CARB guidelines such as New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Oregon. The vehicles certified include the following Star EV models:
Fecon, a maker of vegetation management equipment such as mulchers and stump grinders, recently introduced their new EX60 Track Vehicle. The EX60 has a 6,000-lb payload capacity and all-terrain rubber tracks. The company is targeting applications such as fleet service, fire-fighting, material handling, or spraying vegetation and insects where trucks or larger vehicles can’t go. Two standard auxiliary hydraulic circuits can power optional equipment. A load sense pump is offered as an option for more demanding applications. The EX60 features a universal mounting plate in the payload area to easily switch between solutions, whether skid mounted equipment or material handling apparatus. A reversible operator station and operator controls add to the flexibility of the EX60. The 46HP diesel engine enables transport of the impressive payload and 7-MPH travel speed.
There is no additional information on the cost of the vehicle or other specifications. Fecon existing lines of equipment are for the right-of-way, land clearing, firebreaks, pasture restoration, invasive species and wildlife restoration markets.
Comment: This vehicle definitely pushes the envelope and falls in the more heavy duty range of the of STOV market. While the end market for a vehicle like this may be on the smaller size, it is another example of how the STOV market is being segmented by specialized application needs. While in many cases this segmentation can be handled by customization of base models with a wide range of uses, in other cases more specialized, purpose built vehicles are needed. Another less extreme example in the work UTV portion of the market would be the Brutus line of UTVs from Polaris with it’s PTO and multiple attachment capability. The EX60 may have appeal in other markets but Fecon’s distribution network focusing on the vegetation management markets will likely limit sales of the vehicle to this customer base.