Textron Acquires Douglas Equipment

The Tugmaster DC5 - 42  from Douglas Equipment is part of the product line Textron is adding to their Specialized Vehicle division.

The Tugmaster DC5 – 42 from Douglas Equipment is part of the product line Textron is adding to their Specialized Vehicle Group with their latest acquisition.

Textron has acquired Douglas Equipment, a UK-based supplier of ground support equipment to airlines, from Curtiss-Wright Flow Controls. Douglas Equipment will become part of the Textron’s subsidiary Textron Specialized Vehicle Group which manufacturers golf cars, utility vehicles and ground support equipment under brands such as E-Z-GO, Cushman, Bad Boy Buggies and TUG. The subsidiary already sells ground support equipment to airlines under the TUG brand and Douglas Equipment products are expected to complement those products. Douglas Equipment specializes in conventional aircraft tractors and runway friction measuring devices. Textron management expects the acquisition to expand their ground support equipment product line and add customers. Learn more:  Zacks.com

Comment:  Golf car manufacturers are looking for new growth areas with the continued decline of the golf fleet market. They are attempting to do this with new product offerings to boost sales in existing markets or to target new markets. Another method is through complementary acquisitions such as this. What we haven’t seen yet is an acquisition in a completely untapped market, such as an acquisition in the recreational vehicle segment of the STOV market. While golf car manufacturers have made some moves into the off-road UTV segment, it has been primarily been with work vehicles with some light recreational crossover applications but nothing in the purely recreational segment.

Toro Expands UTV Lineup

A new electronic fuel injected utility vehicle from Toro.

A new electronic fuel injected utility vehicle from Toro.

Toro recently announced the addition of two gas-powered utility vehicles to their product line, the 500 EFI and 700 EFI. As the model names suggest, the vehicles both feature electronic fuel injection for their 4-stroke engines. Additional features include:

  • Duramatic automatic transmissions
  • Dynamic engine braking
  • Electronic 2WD/4WD selection
  • Digital display for fuel level, temperature, oil pressure, speedometer/tachometer
  •  Tilting rear cargo box convertible to a flatbed
  • Payload capacity of 1,100 lbs for the 500 EFI and 1,500 lbs for the 700 EFI
  • 10 inches of ground clearance
  • Standard brush guard an adjustable CAM-style shocks
  • Integrated front and rear two-inch receivers
  • Available accessories include but not limited to windshields, cabs, plow blades, light kits, winches, and stereo

The UTVs will be available at Toro dealers in the spring.

Learn more:  Toro.com

Comment:  The new Toro vehicles continue some trends we have been seeing in the work utility vehicle market and other areas of the STOV market. One is the move towards EFI engines. While more common in the recreational UTV market for performance reasons, in the last few years golf and turf vehicle manufacturers have been switching over to EFI engines as well. Another trend is the high pace of new product introductions. This is related to the increased competition across many markets but in particular in the work and commercial UTV markets as traditional golf car manufacturers seek growth outside of fleet sales and power sports manufacturers look to expand beyond recreation and crossover applications into the work utility segment in general and commercial sub-segment specifically.

Delta-Q Technologies Launches New Charger for Utility Vehicles

Delta-Q Technologies used the recent expo, The Rental Show 2015, to launch a pair of new electric vehicle battery chargers,  the IC650 Industrial Battery Charger for aerial lifts and the QuiQ 1500 for utility vehicles. According to the company,

The QuiQ 1500 allows users to charge existing battery packs up to 30 percent faster than the QuiQ 1000 or equip machines with a bigger pack, meeting a 5- or 8-hour charging time. The QuiQ 1500 is compact and matches the exact dimensions and mounting holes of the existing QuiQ 1000, allowing swift replacement of any existing QuiQ charger. In addition, it can be used as an additional, off-board charger to charge battery packs faster.

The chargers have charging profiles for a range of popular batteries from brands such as Discover Energy, Fullriver, Interstate, Trojan and U.S. Battery. The company also provides generic profiles for different battery types and Amp hour ranges. Learn more:  Delta-q.com


Utility Vehicles Top Equipment List for Golf Course Superintendents

Planned equipment purchases for 2015 from Golf Course Industry's State of the Industry survey.

Planned equipment purchases for 2015 from Golf Course Industry’s State of the Industry survey.

According to the recent State of the Industry survey by Golf Course Industry, utility vehicles top the list of equipment that golf course superintendents are planning to purchase in 2015. A third of the respondents are planning on acquiring the vehicles. UTVs topped the list in all regions, the West, Northeast, Midwest and South. A deeper dive into the data reveals some prime markets… “Broken down further, 43 percent of respondents at private courses, 51 percent at western courses and 55 percent at courses operating with budgets in excess of $1 million all indicated utility vehicles as their top purchases.”  Learn more:  Golfcourseindustry.com

 Comment:  The positive outlook for utility vehicles in this segment is similar to what SVR is projecting for the market in our latest STOV market study. However, utility vehicle offerings from traditional golf car manufacturers will continue to face stiff competition from power sports and other manufacturers that are more aggressively pursuing other utility vehicle markets in the search for growth.

Polaris Acquires Hammerhead Off-Road

The Hammerhead GTS Platinum off-road go-kart.

The Hammerhead GTS Platinum off-road go-kart.

Polaris Industries announced the acquisition of HH Investment Limited, a Shanghai-based company that manufactures off-road go-karts, light-utility and electric utility vehicles, which are sold under the Hammerhead Off-Road brand name in the US. In addition to its main manufacturing facility in Shanghai, Hammerhead has a sales, distribution and light-assembly operation in Dallas. The company also has some private label agreements with other OEMs. Hammerhead Off-road will continue to operate as a standalone entity. Learn more:  Polaris.com

Comment:  The acquisition fits many of the strategic objectives that Polaris has including growing their international revenues and expanding into electric vehicles. The addition of go-karts further extends the breadth of Polaris’ offerings of off-road vehicles from work to recreational applications as well as in terms of customers and price points. Their product line retails for between $1,000 and $3,500 and some of them are go-karts for kids. The assembly operation in Texas may also prove useful for serving the growth of UTVs in the southern tier of the US. Even though the company will operate as a standalone entity, it will be interesting to see if some Polaris dealers start picking up the product line. Hammerhead could benefit from the extensive Polaris dealer network.

Renault Debuts Twizy Delivery Concept

The Twizy Delivery Concept vehicle from Renault.

The Twizy Delivery Concept vehicle from Renault.

Renault has introduced a concept delivery vehicle based on their Twizy two seat passenger vehicle. The Renault Twizy Concept has a specially-modified short-cab big enough for just the driver. Instead of a second seat behind the driver as in the regular production Twizy — or the small cargo-carrying space found in the single-seat Twizy Cargo — the Delivery concept features a flat pickup-style bed onto which a tiny two-wheeled trailer is hitched. A one meter square cargo box fits on the rear trailer platform which is rigidly attached to the front. The vehicle has six wheels instead of four and the middle axle provides motive power. The vehicle will be used in a pilot project in Paris to test the viability of using the vehicle for deliveries where larger vehicles can’t go. Learn more:  Transportevolved.com 

Comment:  The vehicle, although small, looks like it might be slightly oversized for its intended use and maneuvering the six-wheeled vehicle in tight spots might be difficult. It will be interesting to see how the pilot project turns out. The article notes that the passenger version has very low sales but I think that requirements for a passenger vehicle are much more demanding. A smaller, niche application such as “final kilometre” delivery may prove to be a more viable market for the Twizy vehicle platform, but perhaps not with this specific design.

North Carolina Bans UTV Seller Riders Wholesale

The Attorney General of North Carolina has permanently banned Barry T. Moose, Jr. of Statesville and his company, Mooser Moto, LLC, from advertising, selling or collecting payments for any products or services in North Carolina. The online seller of UTVs, ATVs, scooters, go-karts and mopeds, which did business under the name Riders Wholesale, had accepted payments for vehicles that they never delivered or delivered damaged. In addition, Riders Wholesale refused to provide refunds. Approximately 140 customers filed complaints about the company. The judge’s order not only banned the company from doing business but order it to pay $438,000 in consumer refunds.

Learn more:  JDnews.com

Nashville Approves LSV Law For Taxis

The city council of Nashville, TN recently passed an ordinance allowing LSV taxis on local public roads with speed limits up to 35 mph. The  regulations stipulate that “Vehicles, which must undergo regular safety inspections, will be allowed to carry no more than seven passengers and travel no greater than 25 miles per hour. Passengers 12 years or younger will have to be accompanied by an adult. Drivers will not be allowed to provide alcohol to passengers.” The regulations affect companies like Joyride Nashville that currently has a fleet of 24 vehicles and will be adding 12 more. Learn more:  Tennessean

Comment:  Downtown city taxi services have turned into a small niche for the LSV market. While there can often be some push back from highway speed taxi services, these LSV fleets are taking root in different cities around the US. They sometimes generate revenue through advertising rather than passenger fares. For cities, the smaller vehicles, typically electric powered, vehicles can reduce congestion, noise and pollution in crowded downtown areas or tourist destinations.

Google Self-Driving Car: The New LSV

Google plans on testing a fleet of prototype fully autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel later this year and they may technically fall under the low speed vehicle classification. According to a Google spokesman the test fleet will operate  “at lower speeds to reduce the risk when something should go wrong.” They have been testing vehicles already but a person is present to handle driving in certain weather conditions and other critical driving situations. Google does not believe it needs permission from NHTSA to put the vehicles on the road but like other manufacturers needs to certify that the vehicles meet existing vehicle safety standards. NHTSA is currently working on regulations regarding autonomous vehicles.  Learn more:  Detroitnews.com

Club Car Introduces The Precedent Stretch PTV

The new four person Precedent Stretch PTV from Club Car.

The new four person Precedent Stretch PTV from Club Car.

Club Car has launched a new personal transportation vehicle (PTV), the Precedent Stretch. The four-person vehicle includes four forward-facing streets, an optional19-mph Private Use Speed Option, 3.7-hp IQ Plus™ electric motor, a 350-amp controller and ERIC, a new charging system. ERIC issues audio and visual alerts to inform owners when charging begins, when the car is fully charged, when the battery state of charge drops below 20% and 10%, and of any problems with the charger. The Precedent Stretch, purposely built for four people, also features a tubular aluminum frame, spacious bagwell and heavy-duty SportDrive™ Steering and Suspension System.  The full press release follows the comment.

Comment:  What I find interesting about this new vehicle is that it is a PTV and not an LSV. PTVs have a higher maximum speed than what is typically found for golf cars, 19 mph vs 15 mph, but is not as fast as an LSV, 25 mph. The vehicle is clearly aimed at gated communities where people would like to travel faster but don’t want the added expense of an LSV, which must have a set of mandated safety features. This choose may indicate that Club Car finds more potential in the non-LSV personal transportation market in gated communities than in the market for LSVs for use on local public roads.

Press Release

Club Car Introduces New Precedent Stretch PTV (Personal Transportation Vehicle) with 19-mph Private Use Speed Option
New Four-Passenger Electric Vehicle Is Great for Neighborhood Transportation, Small Businesses and Golf

Club Car introduces the versatile new Precedent Stretch personal transportation vehicle (PTV). It combines unsurpassed power and durability with four forward-facing seats and 35 additional inches of legroom, for people who want to take the long view. In the Precedent Stretch PTV, drivers don’t have to leave a friend or relative behind or sitting on a rear-facing seat. “The vehicle’s automotive design fosters conversation, camaraderie and comfort. It delivers the most front and rear legroom of any four-passenger vehicle in its class,” says Product Manager David Woodward. The Precedent Stretch PTV comes with a maximum speed of 15 mph or with Club Car’s 19-mph Private Use Speed Option, making it ideal for neighborhood transportation.

Engineered to Carry the Load

Many small four-passenger vehicles are simply traditional golf cars that have been extended by a third-party provider, often putting the OEM warranty at risk. The Precedent Stretch PTV was designed to carry the additional length and weight. The car is equipped with 10 percent more battery capacity, providing more range than competitive vehicles. The system features: 

  • A rugged 3.7-hp IQ Plus™ electric motor
  • A 350-amp controller
  • A heavy-duty solenoid
  • Four-gauge battery wires
  • Regenerative brakes that capture and store energy used during braking, extending the miles per charge

Durable, Environmentally Safe and Family-friendly
The vehicle uses no gas and releases no carbon emissions. It comes with:

  • A spacious bagwell for groceries, gear or two sets of clubs.
  • An exclusive rustproof, corrosion-resistant, 2-x-3-inch tubular aluminum frame that makes it more impact resistant than steel frames.
  • An extended Monsoon Top™ Canopy with built-in drains that channel water to the ground.
  • A heavy-duty SportDrive™ Steering and Suspension System for a smoother ride and better handling.
  • An integrated rear-passenger grab bar, a five-panel mirror and improved rear braking for safety.
  • One of the longest, most inclusive warranties in its class.

Heads Off Charging Errors
The Precedent Stretch PTV has a new charging system known as ERIC (Efficient. Reliable. Intelligent. Connected.).
“The solid-state, high-frequency system works globally, keeps charging even during voltage fluctuations, and outsmarts common user errors,” says Woodward.
ERIC issues audio and visual alerts to inform owners when charging begins, when the car is fully charged and of any problems with the charger. On-car dash lights alert drivers when the battery state of charge falls to 20 and then 10 percent charge so they don’t get stranded.
Unlike chargers in competitive vehicles, ERIC continuously monitors the battery pack after charging and delivers power as needed. It can be charged through a standard 110-volt outlet, and comes with a standard single-point watering system that makes battery maintenance quick and easy.