Tropos Motors Unveils Electric Utility Vehicles

Topos Motors ABLE FRV f

The Tropos Motors ABLE FRV fire response vehicle.

Tropos Motors, a distributor of Cenntro Metro low-speed electric vehicles and trucks, is now manufacturing their own vehicles under the ABLE brand. Their first vehicles include the ABLE FRV, a fire response vehicle, and the ABLE EMS, an emergency medical service vehicle. The latter comes in an open or contained configuration.

The ABLE FRV features a 125 gallon skid unit tank, electric rewind Hannay series reel and Scotty Around the Pump class A foam system with 5 gallon foam cell. The electric powertrain includes a 10 kW/13 hp motor and a 72V DC power system with gel lead acid batteries. The rear wheel drive vehicle can put out up to 752 ft. lbs of torque. The ABLE FRV has an adjustable top speed of 25 mph to 35 mph for on road use and 40+ mph top speed off-road. Other specifications include:

  • Power steering
  • Four wheel disc brakes
  • Reinforced ABS bodywork
  • 14″ alloy wheels
  • Halogen headlights and LED signal lights
  • 157 inch turning radius
  • 78″ height that allows access to most parking garages, factories and warehouses
  • Kimtek Firelite Transport Deluxe
  • 9 hp electric start water pump
  • 100 foot Mercedes Boostlite hose
  • 20 foot suction hose
  • Fully enclosed tool box area
  • 1/4 turn ball valves
  • Power Hose Retract
  • AM/FM bluetooth USB stereo
  • Heater/Defroster
  • Back-up camera
Tropos Motors ABLE EMS

The new electric powered ABLE EMS from Tropos Motors.

The ABLE EMS can carry one patient on a full-size, standard ambulance stretcher and one EMS attendant in the bed area. The bed area has a lockable storage box, can accommodate a range of stretcher locking mechanisms and features additional security straps for rugged terrain use. Like the ABLE FRS the electric powertrain includes a 10 kW/13 hp motor and a 72V DC power system with gel lead acid batteries. The rear wheel drive vehicle can put out up to 752 ft. lbs of torque and has a top speed of 25 mph to 35 mph for street legal use or 40+ mph for off-road use. Other specs and features include:

  • 2-person open or enclosed cab
  • Power steering
  • Four wheel disc brakes
  • Reinforced ABS bodywork
  • 14″ alloy wheels
  • Extended rear bumper
  • Halogen headlights and LED signal lights
  • Kimtek MEDLITE Transport
  • 3-position jumper seat with seatbelt
  • Railing stainless grab bars
  • Diamond plate flooring
  • Sliding rear window
  • 2 lbs ABC fire extinguisher
  • 692 lbs payload capacity

The ABLE product line features the Tropos Motors Easy-Swap bed platform system that allows for the customer to switch between different bed packages and customize the vehicle to their specific applications. Easy-Swap bed packages include the:

  • Pickup package with an all aluminum pickup truck style bed with three drop down sides, corrugated flooring and 1,100 lbs payload capacity.
  • Trades package with “Rack-it” brand lumber rack, strap tie downs, aluminum diamond plate flooring, built-in lumber bed side inserts and 1,100 lbs payload capacity.
  • Cargo package with an 123 cubic foot enclosed cargo box with curb side hinged swing door, fully gasketed doors with stainless steel latches and hinges, aluminum diamond plate flooring and 1,100 lbs payload capacity.

Learn more:  Troposmotors.com and PRnewswire.com

U.S. Marines Testing Nikola Electric UTV

Electric Nikola Reckless UTV

The Nikola Reckless UTV on test by the US Marines.

The US Marines are testing modified versions of the Nikola NZT electric UTV. Named the Nikola Reckless UTV after a decorated Korean War military horse, Sgt. Reckless, the vehicle can be outfitted with a range of weaponry including a 7.62mm machine gun, 12.7 mm gun, 40 mm MK19 automatic grenade launcher or Javelin anti-tank guided missiles. The four-person vehicle includes an “an infra-red beam that can be used with night vision and a remote weapons system machine gun that can be controlled by a joystick anywhere in the vehicle. It’s light enough to go on a MV-22 osprey,” according to Andy Christian, Nikola’s Director of Defense. The company invested $500,000 to build four prototypes and the production military model will cost around $85,000.

The consumer version of the Nikola NZT can be configured several different ways depending on the number of motors and the size of the battery pack, which is available in 75Wh, 100Wh and 125 Wh. The most powerful four motor configuration delivers 555 hp and 4,900 ft-lbs of torque. The base model starts at $28,900.  Learn more:  OCRegister.com

SVR’s Take:  Given the high price of the Nikola NZT, Nikola Motors is smart to target the military market that can afford the cost of such a cutting edge vehicle. Electric vehicles fit into the US military’s ongoing efforts to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Special forces in particular already make widespread use of UTVs and ATVs. An electric UTV offers several advantages that could be critical in a combat zone including reduced noise, greater acceleration and reduced maintenance. I would imagine the biggest concerns would be the range of the vehicle, charging time and what options are available for re-charging the vehicle in a combat zone.

This effort puts Nikola Motors in direct competition with Polaris Industries which has a growing defense business that is largely based on military versions of their gas-powered RZR UTVs and their ATVs. It will be interesting to see if this draws any response from Polaris. They offer an electric Ranger and have a host of non-off-road electric vehicles like GEM, Taylor-Dunn and Goupil, but they have not put much emphasis on electric UTVs based on their consumer facing websites and marketing material.

Marc Cesare, SVR

Eli Electric Vehicles Launches Eli Zero NEV

Eli Zero NEV

The new Eli Zero NEV from Eli Electric vehicles is expected to reach market in late 2018.

Eli Electric Vehicles is launching a new NEV, the Eli Zero, with the intention to”…fundamentally shift how people engage with modern communities and urban environments.” The company, which is co-headquartered in Long Beach, CA and Beijing, China where the vehicles are manufactured, is now taking reservations for the Eli Zero. The plan is to deliver the first 100 vehicles by the end of 2018. The first 100 customers reserving a vehicle will receive a discount of $2,200 off the expected MSRP of $9,900 to $10,900. The vehicles are targeting the urban mobility space. The base model is expected to have a 55 mile range and the Plus model with a larger battery will have an 85 mile range. The Eli Zero will be using Samsung 18650 lithium cells in the battery pack. Like all NEVs the top speed is limited to 25 mph. Key features of the Eli Zero include:

  • 2-passenger seating plus cargo area behind the seats
  • AC asynchronous motor
  • 48V system
  • 6.0 kWh or 8.3 kWh battery packs
  • Toyota MCU
  • Vehicle Management System that monitors data, malfunctions and energy optimization
  • High-tensile aluminum frame
  • Doors made from a single sheet of thermoplastic-reinforced tempered glass
  • 877 lb/904 lb curb weight for the Base/Plus models
  • Four wheel disk brakes
  • Regenerative braking
  • Cruise control
  • Wide field of vision from the drivers position
  • 24 ft. turning circle
  • Driver proximity detection system to automatically unlock doors
  • LED signal lighting
  • Sunroof
  • Anti-theft system
  • Press to start
  • Multi-function dashboard control dial and LED dashboard display
  • Bluetooth
  • Radio
  • Heat and AC and Defrost
  • Adjustable driver’s seat

Learn more:  NewAtlas.com and Eli.world.

SVR’s Take:  The Eli Zero appears to be a step above the current NEVs on the market in terms of technology and design. The question is whether that is appealing enough to enough consumers. NEVs have consistently fallen short of market expectations in the consumer segment even though a strong argument can be made for their use based on efficiency, appropriateness for urban mobility, size and impact on the environment. An issue in the urban environment is that if a consumer can only own one car will they make it an NEV limited to low speed roads when they can spend several thousand dollars more and have a more versatile highway capable vehicle.

In gated, summer or other communities with widespread use of lower speed vehicles, NEVs are typically the most expensive option. Other available options include used golf cars, refurbished golf cars and new golf cars which can all be customized to a fairly high degree for the same price as an NEV or be equipped with less and cost significantly less. A large swath of that market elects to own less expensive golf cars. From my experience, NEVs have been most successful in these types communities where local regulations are most restrictive regarding the use of golf cars. Perhaps the design and tech of the Eli Zero will have enough appeal to make it a primary choice in a wider range of communities.

In the urban environment NEVs will more likely have a greater appeal where their is a shared fleet of vehicles. In this situation the consumer isn’t making an ownership choice but a ride choice. Do they really need to ride in a highway capable vehicle for a short intra-city trip or will a NEV, likely for a lower cost, be more than sufficient and better for the environment?

Marc Cesare, SVR

Garia Golf Car Inspired By Mercedes Benz Style Premieres

Garia Golf Car Mecedes-Benz Style

The Garia Golf Car inspired by Mercedes-Benz Style is now available in limited edition release.

Garia aluminum rims

14″ black aluminum wheels with diamond-cut elements add style.

outdoor touchpad

The 10″ outdoor touchpad display is paired with bluetooth connectivity.

Under the moniker “The coolest golf car ever”, Garia premiered their Garia Golf Car inspired by Mercedes Benz Style at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. Priced at $73,000, the two-seat Golf Car is the height of luxury and available for a limited edition release.

What makes a $73,000 golf car? You can start with unique styling unlike any other golf car that is a product of Garia’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz. This includes 14″, five spoke, black aluminum rims with diamond cut elements, uniquely designed headlights, carbon fiber accents, as well as Garia and Mercedes-Benz Style logos prominently placed around the vehicle.

The vehicle is handmade including hand-stitched leather “lounge” seats and Mansory carbon fiber parts like the black leather lined roof.The electric powertrain features a 10.24 kWh lithium battery pack good for a 50 mile range and a 70 km/hr top speed that can be limited to 25 mph to meet LSV regulations. For electronics the Golf Car features a 10.1″ outdoor touch screen that displays the scoreboard, bluetooth connection with hands-free streaming, and speakers in the roof and seat interior. Other amenities include a built-in refrigerator, water-proof leather, grab handles, dual size cup-holders and a tray for golf balls and tees. If you are interested, a $1,000 deposit is required to place an order. Learn more: Garia.com

SVR’s Take:  While I’m sure Garia would be happy to sell a bunch of these golf cars that’s not really the point. They are trying to fortify their image as not only a luxury golf car manufacturer but as THE luxury golf car manufacturer. In addition, the design pushes the concept of the golf car away from traditional golf cars and more towards automobiles. With the future of transportation alternatives in flux, this could be helpful in positioning Garia vehicles more towards the personal transportation end of the spectrum as opposed to the golf car end. If niches develop for lower speed urban transportation would you want a vehicle that looks like a golf car or an automobile? From a more current standpoint, elements from the Golf Car will likely find their way into some of Garia’s other lower-priced but still luxurious golf cars.

Marc Cesare, SVR

NHTSA Finalizes Quiet-Car Rule for EVs

Garia LSV In NYC

Street legal Garia on the streets of New York City. LSVs will need to incorporate alert sounds by the end of 2020 according to NHTSA’s finalized “quiet car” ruling.

NHTSA has finalized the quiet car rule that will apply to electric vehicles and hybrids including low speed vehicles. The rule requires EVs and other quiet cars like hybrids to emit alert sounds to warn pedestrians of their approach at low speeds. Vehicles will have to emit sounds when they are moving at speeds of up to 18.6 mph (30 km/hr). Some automakers had pushed for a lower speed threshold of 20 km/hr.

Originally the rule was to be implemented by September 2019 when automakers would have to have 50% of the vehicles equipped with the sounds. After a review by the Trump administration the implementation date has been pushed back by a year to 2020, a full decade since Congress first passed the relevant law. NHTSA expects the rules to prevent 2,400 injuries annually. It is possible that NHTSA will allow manufacturers to provide multiple sounds from which consumers to choose. Learn more:  Reuters.com

SVR’s Take:  This could prove to be an annoying regulation in many campus or gated community settings where LSVs are prevalent. They will likely continuously be making noises since most of their travel around campuses or communities will likely be under the speed threshold. There is the possibility that constantly hearing the alerts could de-sensitize pedestrians to the alerts and negate the intended safety effects. Another unintended consequence is that drivers may want to drive more quickly to keep the vehicle over the threshold speed to avoid triggering the alert.

Marc Cesare, SVR

Massive Yamaha Golf Car & PTV Recall

Yamaha Drive2

The 2018 Yamaha Drive2 is one of the models being recalled over a brake cable issue.

Yamaha Golf Car has issued a recall for over 160,000 golf cars, personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) and utility vehicles due to potential failure of the brake cables and subsequent crash hazard. The recall involves model year 2015 through 2018 gas and electric powered golf cars, PTVs and utility vehicles. Note that the utility vehicles from Yamaha Golf Car are different than those from the power sports manufacturer Yamaha Motors which makes the YXZ, Wolverine and Viking utility vehicles. This recall involves Yamaha Drive and Drive2 branded vehicles made by Yamaha Golf Car. For a detailed list of the model numbers and serial number ranges included check the CPSC.gov website. Owners can also contact Yamaha at 800-962-7926 or at www.yamahagolfcar.com.   Owners should immediately stop using these recalled Golf Cars and PTVs and contact a local Yamaha Golf Car dealer to schedule a free repair. Yamaha is contacting all registered owners directly.

The following recall details are from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Name of product:  Yamaha Golf Cars and Personal Transportation Vehicles (PTVs) Hazard:  The brake cables on the golf cars and PTVs can fail, posing a crash hazard.

Recall date: February 22, 2018
Units:  About 161,000

Description:  This recall involves the following model year 2015 through 2018 gas and electric-powered golf cars , PTVs and utility vehicles. The vehicles were sold in various colors including blue, green, red, white, tan and silver. The model and serial numbers can be found on a label under the seat on the left or right side.

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled Golf Cars and PTVs and contact a local Yamaha Golf Car dealer to schedule a free repair. Yamaha is contacting all registered owners directly.

Incidents/Injuries:  The firm has received 285 reports of brake cables failing. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At:  Yamaha Golf Car dealers nationwide from November 2014 through December 2017 for between $5,900 and $7,700.

Manufacturer(s):  Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, of Newnan, Ga.

Distributor(s):  Yamaha Golf-Car Company, of Kennesaw, Ga.

Manufactured In:  Assembled in United States
Recall number:  18-725

SVR’s Take:  This is a very large recall and on par with the relatively recent large recalls from Polaris. This will likely cost Yamaha millions of dollars to remedy. More importantly, this might put a dent in Yamaha’s progress in gaining market share against Club Car and E-Z-GO. In the last few years, Yamaha has been touting how many thousands of golf courses have switched to their golf cars. The golf car market has always been highly competitive, and even more so in the last several years as golf course growth has declined or remained stagnant.

Marc Cesare, SmallVehicleResource.com

Cushman Introduces New Hauler 800 and 800X Utility Vehicles

Cushman Hauler 800X

The new Cushman Hauler 800X from Textron Specialized Vehicles.

Cushman Hauler 800

The new Cushman Hauler 800 from Textron Specialized Vehicles.

Cushman, a brand under the Textron Specialized Vehicles umbrella, recently announced new, upgraded versions of their Hauler 800 and 800X utility vehicles. Each vehicle comes in an electric powered or gas powered variant. The electric powered models feature a 48-Volt AC powertrain with a 4.4 hp motor, six 8-volt deep cycle batteries, DC PowerWise QE charger and 235 amp AC controller. The gas powered models feature a 13.5 hp Kawasaki, 4-cycle, 401cc engine.

“Customer research guided the design of the Cushman Hauler, and the new Hauler 800 and 800X provides an excellent go-to, light-duty utility option in our lineup,” said John Collins, Vice President, Consumer for Textron Specialized Vehicles. “A customizable bed, functional dash storage, and increased visibility allow the operator to be more organized and productive on the work site.” New options for the Hauler 800 and 800X include:

  • A floor mount attachment that enables you to transport and secure small equipment in the passenger area of the vehicle
  • An independent radio clip that has been ergonomically designed for easy reach
  • Glove box mat package to prevent movement of items in storage compartments

Additional key specs common for the vehicles include:

  • Seating for two
  • 8.4 cu ft of cargo deck capacity
  • Headlights
  • Brushguard
  • Optional bed divider
  • Welded Steel w/ E-Shield e-coat plus DuraShield™ Powder Coat

Some of the key differences between the Hauler 800 and the 800X include:

  • The Hauler 800 has slightly more cargo bed capacity at 400 lbs vs. 325 lbs and more towing capacity with 900 lbs vs. 500 lbs
  • The Hauler 800X has a faster top speed of 16.5 mph vs. 14.5 mph
  • The Hauler 800X has more ground clearance:  5.5″ vs. 4.3″

The Hauler 800 and 800X are available in Patriot Blue and Forest Green.

Learn more:  Cushman.com

SVR’s Take:  While the changes to the Hauler 800 and 800X are not drastic, they are very focused on the application specific needs of end users. These types of changes are indicative of how competitive the work side of the utility vehicle market has become as manufacturers tailor their vehicle offerings to specific sub-segments of the market. They are accomplishing this by adding new work specific features and offering a wider range of options and accessories for specific applications. In some cases, they are providing a pre-packaged set of options and features for certain end-use applications. This is often in the context of segment specific marketing efforts. For example, Club Car has identified certain market verticals they are strategically targeting, and Cushman is using different marketing material for commercial and golf segments for these Hauler 800 and 800X models.  These approaches demonstrate the functionality and versatility of utility vehicles that serve as a common work platform which can relatively easily be customized for a wide range of work environments and applications. Marc Cesare, SmallVehicleResource.com

 

Textron Reports Q4 2017 Earnings

E-Z-GO Freedom RXV

The lithium powered Freedom RXV ELiTE helped drive E-Z-GO sales at Textron.

Textron, manufacturer of Arctic Cat and Textron Off Road utility vehicles, E-Z-GO golf cars and other small, task-oriented vehicles recently reported Q4 2017 financial results. Revenues in the quarter were $4.0 billion, up 5% from the fourth quarter of 2016. Textron segment profit in the quarter was $360 million, down $31 million from the fourth quarter of 2016. For the year revenue increased to $14.2 billion up from $13.8 billion. Textron also produces Bell helicopters, Citation jets and various military systems and products. Textron is forecasting 2018 revenues of approximately $14.6 billion, up 3% percent from the prior year.

The following are some of the highlights of the earnings call and presentation related to small, task-oriented vehicles.

  • Industrial revenues, which includes Arctic Cat, E-Z-GO and other Specialized Vehicles, were $1.1 billion for the quarter, up 20% largely related to the recent Arctic Cat acquisition.
  • Industrial segment profit was up $10 million from the fourth quarter of 2016 due to favorable performance.
  • E-Z-GO sales increased led by the new lithium powered ELiTE golf car which has seen over 21,000 units delivered
  • In December the new Havoc X side-by-side was introduced

Guidance for 2018

  • At industrial, we’re expecting growth in each of our businesses resulting in projected segment revenue of about $4.7 billion and a margin of about 8%.

Learn More:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings Call Transcript)

Polaris Q4 2017 Earnings

2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS

The 2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS helped drive sales for the quarter and the year.

Polaris Industries reported quarterly revenue of $1.431 billion and annual revenue of $5.429 billion, representing increases of 18% and 20% respectively compared to last year. Adjusted earnings per share for the quarter increased 25% driven by higher volume, lower promotional spend and operating expense leverage. For the year a 39% increase in earnings per share was driven by a combination of increased volume, an improvement in gross margins and a lower tax rate.

The following are highlights of the earnings call related to small, task-oriented vehicles.

  • ORV sales increased 14% in Q4 and 9% for the year
  • Average ORV selling price was up 4% for the quarter
  • ORV retail was up for the year but down for the 4th quarter as retail unit sales of Off-Road Vehicles were down just under 1%
  • Ranger sales were up for the quarter with strong demand for the new Ranger XP 1000 lineup
  • RZR sales declined for the quarter driven by “tapped demand and limited product availability”
  • For the quarter the ramp up of Ranger and RZR production was slower than expected in part attributed to the new quality initiative. This manifested as a production issue with a four-wheel drive component on the Ranger XP 1000, which was originally not up to the company’s quality standard.
  • Continued roll out RFM inventory and ordering system for side-by-sides and should be fully optimized by the second quarter
  • North American industry side-by-side growth was strong in Q4 but ATVs down.
  • Utility side of ORV is expected to grow but there is stiff competition on the RZR side which will not grow as much as competition increases
  • Agriculture markets were down in the fourth quarter and oil markets were up slightly, but there was no “substantial shift” in buying patterns.
  • In the side-by-side market decreased pricing is offset somewhat by decreased promotional costs and there is some commodity pricing pressures
  • Australia was a strong market as buyers switch from ATVs to UTVs
  • Global Adjacent Markets sales increased 19% in the fourth quarter, driven by strong growth in Aixam and Goupil, as well as continued strong sales growth in Government and Defense
  • For the year Global Adjacent Markets revenue reached almost $400 million including PG&A
  • Average selling price for Adjacent Markets increasing 14% for the quarter
  • For the full year Global Adjacent Markets sales increased 16% with all business lines growing
  • In Europe there is strong demand for small, inner-city delivery vehicles including electrics and that demand is increasing in the US as well
  • “More autonomous activities with both the military and Taylor-Dunn platforms than anywhere else in the company”

Guidance for 2018

  • Total company sales are expected to be up in the range of 3% to 5% with ORV market expected to be up
  • ORV market share is expected to be stable with continued momentum from Ranger and General product lines
  • ORV/Snowmobile sales are expected to be up low to mid-single digits with Snow about flat and ORV and PG&A sales up
  • Global Adjacent Markets sales are expected to be up mid single-digit percent with growth expected in all businesses.
  • The new long-term strategic targets for the company as a whole are 5% compounded annual growth rate for revenues and 15% for earnings
  • Management will be focusing on cost leadership more while maintaining innovation

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings Call Transcript)

Club Car Launches Tempo Fleet Golf Car

Club Car Tempo

The Tempo, Club Car’s newest fleet golf car.

Club Car Tempo 4Fun

The four-person Club Car Tempo 4Fun fills out the new fleet line.

Club Car launched their newest fleet golf cars, the two-person Tempo and four person Tempo 4Fun at last week’s 2018 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The Tempo comes with an all electric or gas drive train while the Tempo 4Fun is only available as an electric.

Tempo’s electric drive train features a 3.3 hp motor, 48V power system and a single-point watering system. The Tempo 4Fun has the same system except for a 3.7 hp motor. Both features battery packs with six 8-volt batteries. The gas Tempo is powered by a 404cc, 14 hp, single cylinder engine.

Tempo Connect

The touchscreen is part of the Tempo Connect package which includes Visage fleet management and the Shark Experience entertainment bundle.

The distinguishing option for the new fleet golf car is Club Car’s Tempo Connect, an electronics and connectivity package which includes speakers and a touchscreen that can display an electronic scorecard, 3-D flyovers, hole overviews, a rangefinder and a GPS messaging system. Tempo Connect includes both the Visage Fleet Management system and the Shark Experience. The latter is an entertainment system developed by Verizon in partnership with Greg Norman that provides golfers with live sports, music and golf tips. Visage has been on the market a number of years and is a fleet management system.

Common features for all models include:

  • Independent leaf spring with dual hydraulic shocks front suspension
  • Rear wheel mechanical drum brakes
  • Automotive body styling
  • Optional molded-in and painted Premium colors
  • Aluminum frame
  • Alloy wheel
  • Premium seats

Learn more:  Clubcar.com