Honda Unveils Swappable Battery for Electric UTVs

Honda Mobile Power Pack

Honda’s Mobile Power Pack recently unveiled at the CES.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Honda unveiled a new swappable Mobile Power Pack battery system as well as UTVs and other products that use the system. As part of this Mobile Power Pack battery ecosystem Honda introduced a portable power system, “Mobile Power Pack Exchanger” and personal charging system.

Honda’s Mobile Power Pack is designed to have a capacity of 1 kWh or higher and envisioned as a method of storing and later using renewable energy produced during off peak hours. To that end, Honda presented several product concepts powered by the these swappable battery packs.

Honda ausnomous 3E-D18

The autonomous 3E-D18 combines Honda’s work in batteries, robotics and powersports.

One such product is the 3E-D18 which Honda refers to as “an autonomous off-road workhorse device utilizing AI”. The vehicle features a Honda ATV chassis with an electric powertrain. By changing the upper part of the vehicle, Honda anticipates the vehicle being used in fire-fighting, agriculture, sports training support or a myriad of other uses.

Honda Electric Pioneer 500

An electrified Honda Pioneer 500 powered by the new mobile power pack.

Honda electric Pioneer 500

A close-up of the Honda UTV showing a pair of the battery packs.

Another product presented was an electric powered UTV based upon their existing Honda Pioneer 500 model. They envision the vehicle being used for urban transportation, small cargo delivery and outdoor recreation. Other products included an electric powered scooter, a wheelchair type vehicle, a robotic cart for indoor use and a AI driven personal assistant called the “Empathy Concept”.  Learn more:  Honda.com

SVR’s Take

We have already noted some autonomous vehicle efforts in the UTV market by Yamaha and Polaris. This concept from Honda is the first to utilize electric power. These vehicles are likely to be used in highly-specialized and high value applications such as military and fire fighting first because of their high initial cost. As the cost of the technology decreases, they should be used in a wider array of applications. These type of vehicles require a range of competencies and technologies that likely relegates their development to only the largest UTV manufacturers or manufacturers from entirely different industries. Smaller or medium-sized players will likely have to look for technology partners to compete in this area.

The swappable battery concept may be a way of addressing range issues for electric UTVs. One can envision a UTV that is used for both work and recreation where work uses do not create a range or battery power issue, but an owner might want to bring along an extra battery pack for trail riding. In a work fleet scenario batteries could be swapped out similar to what is done with forklifts.

Another interesting point is that Honda lists urban transport and small cargo delivery as potential electric UTV uses. Neither of these uses are currently a primary use of UTVs and indicates a potential long-term growth area for the industry, although one that would require some changes to road use regulations.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS Reviews

2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS

The 2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS.

The 2018 Polaris XP 1000 EPS seats three and is powered by a 999cc, 82 hp gas engine with EFI. This model features electronic power steering, High Performance On-Demand AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode, 11″ of front and rear suspension travel, 13″ of ground clearance, a 2,500 lb towing capacity and a 1,000 lb. capacity cargo dump bed with gas assist. This base model is priced at $15,299. Some key improvements over the 2017 model include a stiffer chassis, more suspension travel and ground clearance, increased payload, greater towing capacity, tighter steering system and improved cargo bed.

Polaris also offers what might be called a “premium” EPS model for a $1,000 more with several automotive style paint options as well as aluminum Black Xcelerator 2.0 wheels and cut and sew seats. For a further $200 you can have camo graphics. There is also a Northstar Edition for $23,999 which comes with a complete cab with heating and AC.

The following are summaries from a number of reviews of the 2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS. These include reviews from trade magazines as well as user generated content. In general the reviews of this model are positive. Polaris made a number of improvements both large and small from the 2017 model and they were well received. Some of the more common features that reviewers liked included:

  • Improved ingress and egress
  • Large amounts of cab storage including a flip-up seat
  • Built-in electrical buses for easily adding accessories
  • Better low power delivery and smoother power delivery overall
  • Improved cargo bed

www.atv.com – Two days of testing at a hunting property in Louisiana

  • Slightly improved seat entry and egress
  • “Massive” amounts of storage in the cab including fold up passenger seat for more cargo area
  • Cargo bed has more molded in dividers
  • Easy access to engine for maintenance
  • Built-in electrical buses for easily adding accessories such as a winch
  • Quiet cab
  • Smooth power and throttle delivery

www.utvplanet.ca – Test drive in work and trail environment.

  • Great suspension on a variety of terrain at slower speeds and improved over 2017 model at higher speeds with less body roll.
  • Better low end power delivery
  • “This is the most fun Ranger we’ve ever driven.”
  • More comfortable seats with additional padding
  • Cup holders have handle cutouts for mugs
  • Lots of cab storage
  • “Love” the new truck-inspired exterior design
  • Improved handling with tighter steering system and better feel
  • Smooth and controllable power delivery
  • More trail capable with “.. improved control, ride quality and stability of the new, stiffer frame.”

Cycle Works Edmonton – Video walk through of various aspects of the vehicle

  • Pre-built busbars for easy accessory connection
  • Easy access to engine for maintenance
  • Reinforced cargo box
  • Easier cab ingress and egress
  • Lots of cab storage – “Really like” the lower storage area in the dash
  • Easy access and more storage with flip up seats
  • Older accessories except doors will fit on new machines
  • Skid plates and biggest standard bumper in the industry
  • Can switch suspension to outside positioning for heavier weight like cab
  • Tailgate can easily handle weight when sitting and latch system is beefier

User Forum – Actually a Honda forum but discussed the Ranger XP 1000.

  • A number of users noted the increased ground clearance and greater towing and cargo bed capacity
  • Several voiced concerns about reliability in light of all the Polaris recalls
  • A couple of posters wanted doors instead of nets
  • Some noted the improved suspension and improved belts which posters noted as a problem in the past
  • Some posters liked the new design which was compared to that of a Toyota Tundra while others did not like it

Polaris Marketing Video – Marketing video that highlights some of the key features of the Ranger XP 1000 EPS

Dirt Trax Television – In-depth look video presentation. Mostly a presentation by a Polaris employee but a thorough explanation of the many changes made compared to the 2017 model.

Cat Introduces Utility Vehicles

Caterpillar CUV102D

The new Cat CUV102D from Caterpillar which partnered with Textron Specialized Vehicles to produce their UTV line.

Caterpillar Cat CUV82

The gas powered Cat CUV82 is the other model in the new product line.

Last month Caterpillar announced that they were partnering with Textron Specialized Vehicles to produce a line of Cat branded utility vehicles. This month two Cat utility vehicles and their specs have been revealed. The CUV82 is a gas powered model and the CUV102D is a diesel powered model.

The CUV82 has a 50 hp, three cylinder engine and a top speed of 45 mph, but can be restricted to 25 mph. The CUV 102D features a 25 hp, 3-cylinder diesel with a top speed of 25 mph. Clearly work vehicles, the CUV82 and CUV102D each have a 1,000 lb. capacity steel cargo bed and a 2,000 lb. towing capacity. The vehicles are designed for all day comfort with ample elbow and legroom and an eye towards reduced vibration and noise. Other key features common to both models include:

  • CVT
  • 2WD/4WD/4WD Lock drive system
  • 10.5″ of ground clearance
  • 25″ tires on steel wheels
  • Four wheel independent suspension with A-Arms front and rear and a front sway bar
  • Dual piston disc brakes
  • Halogen headlights and LED tail lights
  • Electric power assist steering
  • Seating for two
  • ROPS
  • Pre-wiring for accessories
  • Digital instrument gauge
  • Horn

There are already a fair number of accessories available for the vehicles including various bumpers, guards, windshields, roofs, full doors and some lighting options. For work related tasks a front winch, snow plow and electro-hydraulic power dump bed are available.

A quick check of the SVR vehicle database puts these vehicles in the same class as Can Am Defender models, the Cushman Hauler 4×4 Diesel, the Cub Cadet Volunteer and Intimidator Classic models. Learn more: Cat.com

 

Will Electric UTVs Disrupt the Market?

Nikola Zero

A prototype Nikola Zero electric UTV from Nikola Motor on test in Utah.  Photo Credit:  Nikola Motor

Nikola Zero

A shot of the Nikola Zero prototype’s underbelly while rock climbing.  Photo Credit:  Nikola Motor

Fred Lambert of Electrek.co, a news site that focuses on electric vehicles along with solar and wind power, was part of a small group of people that recently had a chance to experience the prototype Nikola Zero electric powered UTV in the challenging terrain around St. George, UT. His experience indicates that the Nikola Zero is not just vaporware with some outstanding specs but an actual UTV moving towards production. More importantly, Lambert’s experience with the Nikola Zero points to the possibility of electric UTVs significantly disrupting the market.

Before further discussing market disruption, lets take a look at the Nikola Zero test drive. The exact specs for the prototype were not provided but Nikola Motor stated that it is fairly close to a production version. Missing from the prototype are body panels. The prototype appeared to meet the the original spec sheet, which promised 555 hp and 4,900 ft-lbs of torque along with 20″ of suspension travel and 14.5″ of ground clearance. The prototype weighed in at around 3,500 lbs, featured 35″ tires, and was outfitted with a 107 kWh battery pack as opposed to the planned high end option of 125 kWh. For comparison, either size provides the UTV with a bigger battery pack than the maximum 100 kWh pack for a Tesla. The prototype’s display screen at the beginning of the test day indicated a 153 mile range at a 92% charge level.

Some highlights from Lambert’s take on the test drive:

  • Roomy 4-passenger vehicle even in the rear seats
  • Top-speed reached was 57 mph limited by terrain but company notes 80 mph is possible
  • Torque of four electric motors and low center of gravity made climbing even up 50% inclines seem effortless
    • One 50% grade was tackled from a standstill where as gas-powered UTVs needed a running start
    • A rock climbing spot was easily conquered by the Nikola Zero while a Can Am UTV and crew were stymied
    • In another difficult spot a Yamaha was easily passed
  • Greatly reduced ride noise compared to a gas UTV
  • Two hours of driving and 1,500 ft. of elevation gain used about one-third of the battery capacity

The company remarked that they are using LG and Samsung batteries in a patented battery pack architecture. They are planning on producing a few hundred units in 2018 and a few thousand in 2019 with a MSRP in the $35,000 range for the 75 kWh battery pack option and $55,000 for the 125 kWh battery pack option. The production version is expected to be launched in December, 2017.

What does this test drive say about how electric UTVs can disrupt the market. One area is performance, especially in the recreational end of the market. The amount of torque and responsiveness of an electric UTV would be very difficult for gas powered vehicles to match. Having motors at each wheel is another advantage as is the lower center of gravity. A gas powered UTV simply cannot be designed this way. Even for the utility segment, while the capability for high speeds would be considered undesirable by many employers, the performance features applied to heavy duty work applications would be welcome.

Performance based disruption is directly tied to expertise in engine design and development. The major UTV manufacturers have invested enormous amounts of money and resources into developing their own engine technology to create more powerful and lighter gas engines as they have engaged in horsepower and torque battles. Electric UTVs have the potential to make that expertise obsolete and demand a focus on batteries, battery pack design and management, and electric motors instead.

Another area of potential disruption, that may be undersold at this point, is the relatively low noise level of electric UTVs. While many riders enjoy the sound of a roaring engine and maybe even consider it integral to the off-road experience, the lower noise levels may prove quite appealing during long hours of riding. The ability to more easily carry on conversations could increase the social aspects of riding. Quieter electric UTVs could potentially open up more areas for riding where noise is a primary land use concern. Again this will be an area that gas powered UTVs will have a hard time competing.

Another potential area of disruption is vehicle reliability. While the chassis, suspension system and many other parts will still be needed for electric UTVs, the electric powertrain eliminates a lot of moving parts and other systems associated with gas engines. A quick perusal of recent UTV recalls indicates that a significant portion of them are related to the gas engine or ancillary system. There is also less maintenance involved with electric powertrains. On the other hand, battery packs will have to demonstrate their reliability.

At this point, a major impediment to this disruptive technology is price. As the anticipated pricing of the Nikola Zero demonstrates, electric UTVs are very expensive machines relative to the current market. A lot of that pricing is tied to the battery pack. Unless battery pricing decreases significantly an electric UTV like the Nikola Zero will only be a niche product targeting the high performance end of the market, not dissimilar to what the original Tesla Roadster was. On the other hand, battery pricing has been dropping significantly, so more affordable but relatively high performance UTVs may not be that far away.

Learn more:  Electrek.co, Nikolamotor.com

Marc Cesare, SmallVehicleResource.com

Textron Off Road Reveals Havoc X Crossover UTV

Textron Off Road Havoc X

The new Havoc X from Textron Off Road.

The new crossover Havoc X at play.

Signaling an aggressive approach to the side-by-side market since acquiring Arctic Cat, Textron Off Road revealed their new Havoc X crossover utility vehicle. The new model is likely the start of new product line targeting the market between pure recreational vehicles like their Wildcat models and the more work oriented vehicles under the Prowler name.

The Havoc X has an abundance of high performance features for work and play. For starters there is Textron’s own 100 hp, 957cc, SOHC engine with EFI. The front and rear double A-arm suspension coupled with King 2.5″ piggyback reservoir shocks with 30-position compression adjustability provides 12.8″ of front suspension travel and 12.9″ of rear suspension travel. There are front and rear sway bars as well. The Havoc X also features 13″ of ground clearance and 28″ ITP Ultracross tires on 14″ aluminum wheels.

On the works side of things, the Havoc X has a 600 lb. capacity cargo tilt cargo bed, 2,000 lb. of towing capacity and 4,000 lb. Warn winch. Other key features include:

  • On-demand AWD with automatic locking overrunning clutch front differential
  • CVT
  • 67 ft.-lbs. of torque
  • Electronic Power Steering
  • 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
  • Steel front bumper
  • Full doors
  • Two-tone bucket seats
  • Extended cab storage
  • LED headlights and accent lights
  • Backlit LCD discplay
  • USB port
  • Tilt Steering

The Havoc X comes in Dynamic Grey and will be available at Textron Off Road dealers in December. The MSRP starts at $17,299.  Learn more:  Textronoffroad.com ;  Preview video

Based on the specs the Havoc X looks like a pretty impressive vehicle with a lot of solid features you would expect in a high end vehicle. The horsepower is slightly less than what some had predicted from a reveal of an early prototype around May, but still impressive.

The Havoc X is clearly taking aim at the Polaris General product line. This new entry is yet another sign of how competitive the side-by-side market is. The competition is providing consumers with a wide range of vehicle choices across many market segments and over a range of price points. While many of the high performance vehicles for both work and play are pricey, they also come packed with many features and extensive capabilities and the high level of market competition is likely to keep pricing down.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Polaris Introduces RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX Edition

2018 Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX

The new 2018 RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX Edition from Polaris.

Polaris has introduced their new four passenger RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX Edition, which features the intelligent RZR DYNAMIX Active Suspension that adjusts individual shocks on-the-fly based on near continuous monitoring of key ride inputs. The new model builds out their DYNAMIX lineup introduced earlier this year for model year 2018.

The RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX Edition includes a RIDE COMMAND 7” display with rear camera, and an all-new, 900-watt charging system that improves battery charging and allows for additional accessory electrical loads. The display provides information on the suspension control system including compression dampening, selected mode, g-force, pedal position, steering angle, brake status and diagnostics.

The DYNAMIX system is designed to deliver a high level of ride comfort while still providing a high level of driving performance. The rider chooses from one of three styles of riding and the system makes adjustments within parameters for that riding style. Riders can choose from:

  • Comfort:  Designed for cruising around and eliminating the small chatter.
  • Sport:   Blends performance and comfort for ultimate high-speed handling.
  • Firm:  Cranks all four shocks to max stiffness for the firmest suspension in the industry for the most severe terrain.

Other key features and specs of the RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX Edition include:

  • 168 hp, ProStar Turbocharged 925cc engine with EFI
  • FOX 2.5 PODIUM Live Valve shocks with Bottom-Out Control
  • 16″/18″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • High Performance True On-Demand AWD/2WD
  • Electronic power steering with integrated steering angle sensor
  • 13.5″ of ground clearance
  • 64″ wide
  • 29″ Maxxis Bighorn tires on aluminum wheels
  • Bowed 1/4 doors
  • LED headlights and taillights

The RZR XP 4 Turbo DYNAMIX Edition comes in Black Pearl and will be available in dealerships in early December with a $28,499 US MSRP. Learn more:  Polarisindustries.com

Caterpillar Partners with Textron Specialized Vehicles for UTVs

Cushman Hauler 1200

Textron Specialized Vehicles, which makes utility vehicles like the Cushman Hauler 1200, is partnering with Caterpillar to manufacturer CAT branded UTVs.

Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, has entered into a manufacturing and supply agreement with Textron Specialized Vehicles to develop CAT branded utility vehicles.

The CAT utility vehicles will feature a steel cargo bed with a 1,000 lb. capacity and be able to tow up to 2,000 lbs. According to Cat product manager Steve Schoening, “Cat utility vehicles will offer exceptional performance and stability at full load, superior reliability, and a quiet, spacious operator environment”. There will also be ample headroom and legroom for tall operators.

Those specs are similar to the Cushman Hauler 1200 and Hauler 4×4 Diesel although the Haulers have slightly more cargo bed capacity by significantly less towing capacity. Caterpillar has 49 independent dealers in the US and another 123 worldwide. The CAT UTV will be available in 2018.

This is another example of utility vehicle manufacturers expanding their distribution through partnerships to reach additional market segments or geographic areas. Textron Speciality Vehicles has their Cushman product line that touches on the construction equipment market segment, but Caterpillar’s brand and dealer network provides access to the heart of heavy equipment markets. The partnership also helps increase production volume for Textron that can further reduce their manufacturing costs. For Caterpillar the partnership provides an easy add-on to their product line for a type of vehicle that many of their heavy equipment customers are likely already buying, but from other brands. In addition, they do not have to spend as much non-monetary resources developing and producing a type of vehicle that is not core to their mission or expertise. Learn more:  Constructionequipment.com

Marc Cesare, SmallVehicleResource.com

Can-Am Enters Trail Segment with 2018 Maverick Trail Models

Can-Am side-by-side

New Can-Am side-by-side models for 2018 including trail specific models and application specific Defender  and Maverick X3 models.

Can-Am launched their entry into the trail riding segment with four 50″ wide Maverick Trail models for 2018. The new models are the Maverick Trail and Maverick Trail DPS, both of which have the option of a Rotax 800 or Rotax 1000 engine. They also added technical crawling-specific models, the 172hp Can-Am Maverick X3 X rc TURBO R and the 120hp Maverick X3 X rc TURBO.

New for the Defender line for 2018 are the mud ready Defender X mr HD10, the performance oriented Defender XT-P, and the Defender MAX LONE STAR HD10 targeting the rancher segment with a mixture of heavy-duty components and flair.

Can-Am’s 2018 model year is an extension of the company’s aggressive product development pace in the side-by-side market for the last several years. They have been updating their existing product lines while targeting market segments in which they have not had a presence. First was their introduction of the Defender line aimed more for work oriented applications, and particularly for farms and multi-acre home owners. Now they are attacking the trail segment that has largely been left to Polaris and Arctic Cat, now known as Textron Off Road. They are also continuing to differentiate within market segments with their existing product lines by adding application specific vehicles.

These are all trends that are occurring in the market in general as competition in the side-by-side market in both recreational and utility segments has revved up. For customers this has translated into better promotions and pricing, increasing vehicle functionality and performance and a better value proposition. In Can-Am’s case, their new product development strategy has led to increased revenue and market share from the success of their Defender line and annual improvements to the Maverick family.

In the last few years many manufacturers, both large and small, have revitalized product lines, added product lines and newly entered the market, particularly in the utility segment. The challenge is to remain committed to the market with the resources needed to regularly develop competitive vehicles and build out distribution channels. There is likely to be a shakeout in the market in the next few years as some companies will have difficulty remaining competitive product offerings in the face of aggressive product introductions by Can-Am and other manufacturers.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

The following is the press release from Can-Am

Dallas, Texas, Sept. 20, 2017 – BRP (TSX: DOO) unveils four new 50”-wide Can-Am Maverick Trail side-by-side vehicles at its annual dealer meeting in Dallas, TX. People can now enjoy the Maverick experience while accessing many public trails and tucked-away destinations with ease. With their innovative design and extreme agility, Maverick Trail vehicles enhance the consumer experience and allow people to explore the wild with confidence.

The Maverick Trail vehicle is conceived to bring one of the best trail experiences to people with its bold Can-Am Maverick X3 heritage and its ingenious convenience features. Every feature is purpose-built to maximize consumer comfort, vehicle stability, and handling – a must for people who are looking for a full day of adventures.

“The Can-Am Maverick Trail lineup introduces our incredible X3 pedigree to trail exploration,” said Bernard Guy, Senior Vice President, Global Product Strategy at BRP. “People love riding trails because it’s an adventurous escape into nature to discover new destinations with friends, and these ingenious machines are built to maximize the user experience in every way.”

The fun doesn’t stop on the trail, though, as BRP also introduced two new technical crawling-specific models for 2018 – the 172hp Can-Am Maverick X3 X rc TURBO R and the 120hp Maverick X3 X rc TURBO. Rugged crawling is extremely popular (and growing), and BRP went to the rocks to gain real-world insight from owners before finalizing the design.
One critical takeaway for the best possible user experience was the need for a fully-lockable front differential. In response, the Can-Am team created a technology called SMART-Lok™*, which is an ingenious fully-lockable on-the-fly front differential with electronically-controlled automatic modes. That smart technology enhances the riding experience and amounts to traction in extreme conditions.

Maverick X3 X rc models are specifically designed for maximum maneuverability even at low speeds with a high ground clearance and large, specialized tires. They also come loaded with features for maximum protection including rock sliders, front and rear suspension protectors, and a front differential guard for enhanced defense against harsh terrain and rocks.

On the utility side of the lineup, BRP introduced three new specialty packages to its Can-Am Defender model family, each purpose-built for a specific, enhanced ride experience:

  • The Defender X mr HD10 is a mud-ready vehicle that’s built to tackle grimy conditions with ease. It also has a SMART-Lok front differential, and along with other tough and clever elements, is built from the ground up so people can conquer harsh environments.
  • The Defender XT-P brings performance to the workhorse-oriented Defender XT lineup, with upgraded shocks, multiple driving modes, and more. It’s an ideal balance between performance, comfort and convenience, and is packed with a sportier look.
  • The Defender MAX LONE STAR HD10 complements the swagger and grit of the Texas rancher and outdoorsman. It’s the perfect tool for day-to-day ranching tasks while making sure people stand out from the crowd. It features painted deep metallic black coloration, Lone Star trim, and heavy-duty components such as a steel front bumper and full hard roof.

For additional information and technical specs on these new models, as well as two all-new youth ATV models, visit www.CanAmOffRoad.com.

* Smart-Lok was developed in conjunction with TEAM Industries, a market leader in the drive train industry.

About BRP
BRP (TSX:DOO) is a global leader in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of powersports vehicles and propulsion systems. Its portfolio includes Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft, Can-Am off-road and Spyder vehicles, Evinrude and Rotax marine propulsion systems as well as Rotax engines for karts, motorcycles and recreational aircraft. BRP supports its line of products with a dedicated parts, accessories and clothing business. With annual sales of CA$4.2 billion from over 100 countries, the Company employs approximately 8,700 people worldwide.

Yamaha Introduces 2018 Wolverine X4 UTV

2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4

The new 2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4, a 4-passenger UTV designed to be more compact and nimble for recreational use.

Yamaha recently announced their new 4-passenger 2018 Wolverine X4 side-by-side. The Wolverine X4 features a new 847cc, twin-cylinder engine and stowaway full-size rear seats for flexible cargo space. To improve efficiency, the engine features a dry-sump design for a more compact layout, and an offset cylinder block to reduce friction loss, while rubber engine-mounts and a geared counterbalancer are designed to greatly reduce vibration at idle and throughout the RPM range, as well as reduce noise. The X4 also includes the new Yamaha Chip Controlled-Throttle (YCC-T®), a drive-by-wire system providing precise throttle control, and a key controlled speed system for restricting the vehicle’s top speed to 25 mph. The dimensions (59.8″ wide and 82.7″ wheelbase) of the new Wolverine X4 are purposely on the compact end of the scale to provide a more nimble vehicle for more technical trail riding. Other key features and specs include:

  • Ultramatic V-belt transmission with all-wheel engine braking
  • Yamaha On-Command 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, full diff-lock 4WD
  • 8.7″/8.9″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 10.7″ of ground clearance
  • Rear self-leveling shocks
  • 26″ Maxxis tires
  • Electronic power steering
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 600 lb. cargo bed capacity
  • 2,000 lb. towing capacity
  • Full underbody skid plates
  • Fully enclosed doors
  • Wide fenders
  • LED headlights and taillights
  • Two 12V DC outlets
  • Four pre-wired accessory switches
  • MSRP $15,999 in Graphite

Model variations include the Wolverine X4 in:

  • Yamaha Blue with overfenders and cast aluminum wheels (MSRP $16,499)
  • Realtree Xtra camo with overfenders and cast aluminum wheels (MSRP $16,899)
  • Matte Silver and Matte Carbon Special Edition (SE) models with overfenders, painted bodywork, color-matched interior and shock springs, and cast aluminum wheels (MSRP $17,249)

According to Yamaha managers they are trying to deliver a 4-seat UTV with some of the handling and size characteristics of a two seater and a high degree of versatility. They believe this segment of the market is currently underserved.

Learn more:  Yamahamotorsports.com

Comment:  The fact that the Wolverine X4 has been designed from the ground up and includes an entirely new engine shows the level of commitment Yamaha has made to the UTV space. They have rolled out new Wolverine and Viking models for 2018 after making a big push in the last two model years in the sport end of the market with the YXZ. The UTV market has become highly competitive and manufacturers will need to be introducing innovative new models on a regular basis to drive sales.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

New SVR Market Study Predicts Solid Growth For STOVs

In a new market study on the small task-oriented vehicle (STOV) market in the US and Canada, Small Vehicle Resource (SVR), LLC predicts growth over the 2017-2021 period. The market research reveals four trends coming together that will result in market gains of mid to high single digits in the forecast period and an industry value in the range of $15.8 billion at retail including parts and accessories.

  • Growing appreciation in a highly diverse market for the effectiveness of STOVs specifically designed to meet individual segment needs;
  • Increasing competition that will drive new product development as manufacturers seek to strengthen current market strongholds and stake out additional market segments with new and/or expanded product lines;
  • Continuing focus on accessories and attachments to enhance the versatility and value of STOVs, boost revenues and supplant other vehicle types such as pick-ups and tractors for work and full-size vehicles for transportation;
  • Golf manufacturers emphasizing non-fleet markets over the continuing slow/negative growth golf car fleet market.

Steve Metzger, SVR Managing Director, states that, “While the fleet market remains in a downsizing mode, it is a marginal decline. It will remain a significant component of the golf car-type vehicle market. On the other hand, SVR forecasts continued sizable gains in the non-fleet market, including light utility and transporter vehicles and personal transportation vehicles.” Metzger also notes, “SVR anticipates that important new opportunities lie ahead, including self-driving technology applications, as well as potential for a much broader market on a global basis.”

Marc Cesare, SVR Managing Director adds, “The off-road utility vehicle market continues to be a competitive vortex for golf car manufacturers seeking new markets, the powersports industry, and traditional manufacturers of work related utility vehicles. While market growth will be slower than the recent high growth years, it remains solid,” Cesare notes, “ and competition will drive product innovation in both base vehicles as well as options and attachments that improve vehicle performance and versatility.

Approximately a third of the market value is from electric powered STOVs, primarily in the form of golf cars or golf car derived utility vehicles and personal transportation vehicles (PTVs). PTVs are golf cars modified for gated community or low speed public road use and include low speed vehicles (LSVs). Key trends and projections for the market include:

  • In total, demand for electric powered STOVs will increase to over 300,000 vehicles in 2021.
  • The demand for non-fleet golf car type vehicles will more than offset the slight decline in the fleet golf car market, moving from under 50% of the total demand to over 50%.
  • Light utility vehicles produced by golf car and other manufacturers are expected to grow approximately 10% annually to 2021.
  • PTVs will continue to grow low single digits during the trend period and electric powered PTVs will slowly increase to represent nearly 75% of the market by 2021. LSVs will account for about one-fifth of the PTVmarket.

Metzger, states that, “The potential for even greater electric powered STOV growth is there. In the PTV market the combination of market forces and emerging technologies could greatly increase the applicability of PTVs. Increasing urbanization is expected to create congestion and pollution issues, and the search for new transportation solutions. The advent of self-driving vehicle technology along with improved battery technology creates the potential for mobility platforms that can in part be based on small PTVs.” He further notes, “Gated communities with their more controlled environments could prove to be excellent testing grounds and the concepts could then migrate to urban environments that are well suited to low speed vehicle operations.”

The new study, the eighth in the series of studies produced by SVR since 2000, covers utility, off-road, and personal transportation vehicles, and fleet golf cars.

The study is entitled, 2017 Market Report on the Small, Task-Oriented Vehicle Industry: Transition and Growth –Trends from 2012; Forecasts to 2021. 

For additional, detailed information on study content a brochure is available with a table of contents ( Small Task-Oriented Vehicle Study – Analysis & Forecast (PDF)) or contact:

Steve Metzger,  smetzger@smallvehicleresource.com

(914) 293-7577