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

Eicher Polaris JV Shut Down

Eicher Polaris Multix

The Multix utility vehicle, the first offering from the Eicher-Polaris joint venture.

Eicher Polaris, the joint venture between Eicher Motors of India and Polaris Industries and the manufacturer of the Multix small, task-oriented vehicle, has been shut down due to poor sales. Eicher reported that initial interest in the Multix was good but could not be sustained over the long term, especially in the rural markets. The Multix was marketed as India’s first personal utility vehicle that could be used to carry passengers or cargo. The vehicle was designed with flexibility in mind from the beginning so that it could be used as a work vehicle, a family vehicle and even a power generator for the home in rural communities.

The joint venture formed in 2012 and the vehicle launched in 2015 after a significant amount of money and resources were put into market research and product development. Management initially expected sales of 10,000 to 12,000 units that would grow to 100,000 units annually. However, the joint venture showed signs of difficulty by early 2017 and management adjusted their marketing strategy and put more resources into the effort including adding more dealers. These efforts targeted the original market, the rural customer, but failed to make inroads. Later in the year, the joint venture steered in a new direction and started targeting urban customers. Apparently this strategy did not produce enough results. Eicher and Polaris spent an estimated $60 million to bring the vehicle to market. For the last full year ending March 31, 2017 the Eicher Polaris JV reported a loss of approximately $14 million. Some people attributed the lack of adoption to conservative attitudes of the rural customer base that may have been unwilling try such a new vehicle concept.  Learn more: Autoindia.com

SVR’s Take:  This must be a disappointment for Polaris. A lot of time, effort and resources were put into the joint venture and the vehicle. If successful, the Multix would have been a nice addition to the Polaris international portfolio of small, task-oriented vehicle lineups like Aixam, Goupil, GEM and Taylor-Dunn. The Multix would have given them a foothold in the large and growing Indian commercial/work vehicle market and served as a potential jumping off point to export to other countries in the region. Polaris is intent on growing international sales and it is hard to believe they would abandon the Indian and Southeast Asia STOV markets altogether. One option may be to acquire an existing manufacturer.

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

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)

Tata Ace Mini-truck Reaches 2 Million Vehicle Milestone

Tata Motors Tata Ace Mega

The Tata Ace Mega is one variant of the popular mini-truck from Tata Motors.

Tata Motors of India recently announced that the 2 millionth Tata Ace mini-truck had been sold. The company reached the milestone in 12 years. The Tata Ace is popular in India and other Southeast Asia countries where mini-trucks and a host of other small vehicles are used for “last mile” transportation in a spoke and hub system. According to Tata management the company controls 65% of the mini-truck market. Other players in the market include Mahindra with their Jeeto vehicle and Piaggio with their Porter 700.

The Tata Ace platform has grown into over a dozen offerings since being launched in 2005. The Tata Ace family includes brands like Ace, Zip, Mega and Mint for cargo transport and Magic, Mantra and Iris for passenger transport. The vehicles come in a range of engine power, engine type and body configurations to fit a wide spectrum of end-use applications in urban to rural settings. For example they offer the Super Ace Mint with a suction machine for sewage and manhole cleaning and other models are specifically designed for use as food trucks. Small scale transporters and entrepreneurs are the main target customers for these vehicles.

Mini-trucks are not as popular in the United States, in part, because the do not meet safety and emissions regulations for on road use. There are about a dozen states that allow them limited access to roads with a speed restriction typically in the 25 mph to 35 mph range. They are more popular in some farming communities where they have served as a utility vehicle for use off-road or on road moving between fields. To a large degree the UTV has functionally become the US version of the mini-truck.   Learn more: Tatamotors.com

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Textron Recalls Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail & Sport UTVs

2014 Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail

This 2014 Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail is part of the recall.

Textron Specialized Vehicles, which acquired Arctic Cat earlier this year, has announced the recall of model year 2014 to 2017 Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail side-by-sides and model year 2015 to 2017 Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport side-by-sides. Heat from the vehicle’s exhaust can melt the plastic panels behind the operator and passenger seats and pose a fire hazard. The recall involves approximately 14,100 units in the US, 5,300 in Canada and 100 in Mexico of the two seat side-by-sides. Consumers should stop using the vehicles and contact Arctic Cat to schedule a free repair.

This is a large recall compared to what we usually see in the market, which is typically several thousand and less frequently more than 10,000 vehicles. Textron only recently acquired Arctic Cat and is still integrating the business into their Textron Specialized Vehicles division. They are keeping the Arctic Cat name for the Wildcat products under their newly formed Textron Off Road brand. Management is probably not thrilled with this unanticipated and added expense related to the acquisition.

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

Name of product:  Arctic Cat recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs)
Hazard:  Heat from the exhaust can melt the plastic panels behind the operator and passenger seat, posing a fire hazard.
Recall date:  October 27, 2017
Recall number:  18-017
Consumer Contact:  Arctic Cat at 800-279-6851 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online at www.arcticcat.com and click on Product Recall for more information.

 

Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves all model year 2014 through 2017 Wildcat Trail and 2015 through 2017 Wildcat Sport models of Arctic Cat ROVs. The recalled vehicles were sold in multiple colors, have four wheels and side-by-side seating for two people. “Wildcat Trail” or “Wildcat Sport” is printed on each side of the vehicle.

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Arctic Cat to schedule a free repair. Arctic Cat is contacting all known purchasers directly. If you need assistance locating an authorized dealer to conduct this repair, contact Arctic Cat.

Incidents/Injuries:  The firm has received 444 reports of the plastic panels melting, with five resulting in fires. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At:  Arctic Cat dealers nationwide from December 2013 through August 2017 for between $10,500 and $19,500.

Manufacturer(s):  Arctic Cat Inc., of Thief River Falls, Minn., a subsidiary of Textron Specialized Vehicles, of Augusta, Ga.

Manufactured In:  U.S.

Units:  About 14,100 (In addition, 5,300 were sold in Canada and 100 in Mexico)

Learn more:  CPSC.gov

University Reveals aCar: An Electric Utility Vehicle For Africa

aCar electric utility vehicle

A frontal view of the aCar on test in Ghana,

aCar electric utility vehicle

The aCar was developed by the  Technical University of Munich.

Technical University of Munich (TUM) scientists have introduced a prototype electric powered utility vehicle designed for use in rural Africa. Four years in development, the prototype is called aCar, as in “all-rounder”, and was developed specifically to meet the needs of sub-Saharan countries.

The aCar is a cross between a UTV and a small truck, and is off-road capable and can transport heavy loads with a total load capacity of 1 ton. The aCar has four-wheel drive and electric powered to minimize maintenance, provide plenty of torque and be environmentally friendly. The battery can also be used to power winch or as an energy source. The modular design for the rear of the vehicle provides versatility to carry cargo, passengers, a mobile physicians office, a water treatment solution or other functionality. Other key specifications and features include:

  • 20 kW battery capacity
  • 48-volt system
  • 80 km range
  • Top speed:  60 km/h
  • 7 hour recharging time from 220 volt household socket
  • Optional solar sheets
  • Price: under 10,000 euros
  • 3.7m x 1.5 m x 2.1 m
  • Seating capacity:  2
  • Simple production and low manufacturing costs

The vehicle was tested in Ghana for a month and was well received by locals. The aCar will first be produced in Europe to understand and optimize production, but the goal is to move production and eventually component manufacturing to Africa.

Learn more:  TUM.de

This project highlights some of the obstacles in creating a capable and affordable vehicle for customers in developing countries. Not only does such  vehicle have to be affordable to purchase but also to operate. One might think that a large UTV manufacturer could just export their lower priced models. However, the complexity of the design, the need for a reliable fuel supply, and the additional cost of shipping the vehicle all create obstacles.

In terms of design, complexity invites potential for more breakdowns and requires a robust supply chain for parts and more technical expertise for repairs. A simple but robust design alleviates these issues. A leading UTV manufacturer would likely have to develop an entirely different platform for this market.

The modular approach for the aCar is different from the accessories and options approach in the UTV market. Developing modules for specific applications provides some flexibility but, in comparison to the UTV market, limits the level of customization that can be achieved. On the other hand, developing the modules and the requisite supply chain, is likely more cost effective than developing and supplying a wide range of accessories and options in areas where a dealer network will be very limited. A next step in this project may be to look at how the modular design approach can best balance cost, supply and complexity issues with vehicle customization to increase productivity and value.

Marc cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Textron Off Road Announces 2018 Models

Textron Off Road Logo

Textron Off Road announced their 2018 UTV lineup, the first since Textron Off Road replaced the Arctic Cat name for UTVs and ATVs. The 2018 UTV lineup includes 15 different models including Wildcat, Stampede, Recoil and Prowler nameplates. While Textron Off Road kept many of the Wildcat offerings they have ditched the HDX and most of the Prowler offerings which had previously been sold under the Arctic Cat name. They also dropped their non-EPS base model for their Stampede lineup and changed the names of the other Stampede models.

  • Stampede EPS is now Stampede
  • Stampede EPS+ is now Stampede X
  • Stampede XTR EPS is now Stampede 4
  • Stampede XTR EPS+ is now Stampede 4X

Here is a summary of the 2018 lineup:

  • Recreational UTVs:  Wildcat X, Wildcat X LTD, Wildcat Trail, Wildcat Trail XT, Wildcat Trail LTD, Wildcat Sport XT, Wildcat Sport LTD, Wildcat 4X LTD
  • Crossover UTVs:  Stampede X, Stampede 4X, Stampede, Stampede 4
  • Electric UTVs:  Recoil, Recoil iS
  • Work/Entry Level UTV:  Prowler 500

The lineup is quite broad covering a range of segments from high performance to sport recreational riding, trail riding, 4-passenger and crew, electric powered, work, crossover and even entry level general utility with the Prowler 500. The following are key specs for some of the 2018 models:

Textron Off Road Prowler 500

The 2018 Prowler 500 from Textron Off Road.

Prowler 500

  • 443cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, twin cylinder single overhead cam engine with EFI
  • On-Demand 4WD and Duramatic CVT
  • Double A-arm front and rear suspension with 7.5″ of travel
  • 10″ of ground clearance
  • 25″ Maxxis tires on steel wheels
  • 500 lb. dump bed capacity
  • 1,500 lb. towing capacity
  • Halogen low/high headlights and taillights
  • Door nets and 3-point seatbelts
  • 2-passenger
  • MSRP $8,499
Textron Off Road Wildcat X LTD

The 2018 Wildcat X LTD now under the Textron Off Road brand.

Wildcat X LTD

  • 951cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, V-twin cylinder single overhead cam engine with EFI’
  • Electric 2/4WD with 4WD lock
  • Rapid response clutches
  • EPS
  • Double A-arm front suspension and 5-link rear suspension with Elka Stage 5 shocks with dual speed compression adjustment and rebound adjustment
  • 17″/18″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 13″ of ground clearance
  • 27″ ITP Blackwater Evolution tires and aluminum ITP beadlock wheels
  • 300 lb. cargo box capacity
  • Dual LED headlights, brake lights and taillights
  • Half doors
  • 3-point seat belts and seat belt rev limiter
  • MSRP $18,499
Textron Off Road Stampede X

The 2018 Textron Off Road Stampede X previously known as Stampede EPS+.

Stampede X

  • 80 hp, 846cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, twin cylinder single overhead cam engine with EFI
  • On-Demand AWD with automatic locking front differential and selectable locking rear differential
  • EPS
  • Double A-arm suspension front and rear with Performance shocks
  • 9.5″/10.5″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 11.25″ of ground clearance
  • 27″ Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires and aluminum alloy wheels
  • 600 lb. dump bed capacity
  • 2,000 lb. towing capacity
  • Standard doors
  • Front steel brush guard
  • LCD display
  • USB outlet
  • Low/high beam headlights
  • Extended cab storage space
  • 3-point seat belts and seat belt rev limiter
  • 2-passenger
  • MSRP $14,799

While the Textron Off Road brand has absorbed the Arctic Cat brand, production for the Stampede models is being integrated into existing Arctic Cat production facilities. The Stampede model production is moving to the Thief Falls River, MN facility to join the Wildcat and Prowler production. Stampede engine production will move from Germany to St. Cloud, MN, which produced engines for Arctic Cat UTVs, ATVs and snowmobiles.

Current owners of Arctic Cat side-by-sides and ATVs can continue to visit their Arctic Cat dealer for vehicle service, parts and accessories.

Learn more:  Textronoffroad.com

 

Mahindra To Build UTVs in the US

The Mahindra mPact XTV 1000 L utility vehicle is one of six models previously developed by the company in partnership with Intimidator, Inc.

Mahindra is planning on launching an off-road utility vehicle targeting farmers and hunters, and will build it in the US. In an interview by Barron’s, Mahindra & Mahindra’s CEO Pawan Goenka covered a range of topics including a new manufacturing plant in Detroit. The first product produced by the plant will be off-road utility vehicles.

In April 2015 Mahindra announced a partnership with Intimidator Inc. based in Arkansas to develop and manufacture Mahindra’s current mPact lineup of six UTVs. This latest interview indicates that moving forward they will be developing and manufacturing their UTVs themselves. According to the CEO Mahindra currently has about 540 dealers in the US who sell Mahindra’s tractors. While the brand is not necessarily a household name, it is not an obscure brand either in the farming market.

Comment:  This marks a more serious commitment to the UTV market. While some companies have developed partnerships to add UTVs to their product lineup, they have not had intentions of moving into manufacturing themselves. These partnerships have been a joining of complementary competencies and assets. Usually one company has the distribution channel while the other has the expertise and resources to develop the UTVs. In Mahindra’s case they likely used their partnership with Intimidator to test the UTV market in the US before making a more substantial commitment. They will offer some more competition for companies like Kubota, John Deere, Polaris and even Can Am which has been targeting the farm/hunting market segment lately as well. The investment shows that the UTV market remains highly competitive, but companies still view it as a growth market.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Eicher Polaris Changes Multix Marketing Strategy

Eicher Polaris Multix

The Multix utility vehicle, the first offering from the Eicher-Polaris joint venture.

Eicher Polaris has made a significant change in the marketing strategy for their Multix multi-purpose utility vehicle. Launched in 2015, the Multix was designed to be versatile and transformable from moving goods to carrying the family to generating electricity with the X-Port feature.

Based on extensive market research the original marketing plan targeted entrepreneurs in rural areas and small towns. The entrepreneur could use the vehicle for business during the week, for family outings on the weekend and even provide electricity in areas where the electrical grid can be unreliable. However, the product has not taken off as management expected, although the potential market is deemed quite large. The company points to more conservative rural people not being as quick to adopt such an innovative product.

Therefore, Eicher Polaris is changing course and now focusing on more urban areas. To that end the company is expanding from 77 to 100 dealerships with most of the new openings in metro areas. The hope is that metro locations will provide more exposure for the Multix to a wider range of end users in the urban environment. Management provides examples of end users that can conduct “business on wheels” with the Multix like laundry operators who can use the X-Port for ironing and carpenters to power tools.

Learn more: thehindubusinessline.com

Comment: The versatility of the vehicle may make it a success in the end. In the metro areas, rather than fitting the vehicle to a particular type of user, many different type of users can adapt the Multix to their needs. In the end the Multix may be used for a number of different end use applications that the company never even considered when developing the vehicle. The key will be exposing the vehicle to as many different end users as possible, and helping them adapt the vehicle to their needs. The next step may be to develop a broader range of accessories to cater to specific applciations.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com