Polaris Reports Q1 2017 Earnings

The General product line with models like the General 1000 EPS Hunter Edition in Polaris Pursuit Camo was a bright spot in Polaris’ Off-Road Vehicle business.

Polaris Industries reported adjusted sales of $1,158.9 for Q1 2017, an 18% increase from q1 2016. Management reported gains in the Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) business, large gains from Global Adjacent Markets and increased revenue from the recent TAP acquisition. In the ORV business Ranger and General product lines improved while the RZR line was down as expected. The side-by-side market continues to be highly competitive with elevated promotional costs. Management reported market share gains for Polaris ATVs. In the Global Adjacent Markets Aixam Mega was strong as well as the government defense business which helped increase revenue by 24%.

The following are highlights from the earnings call related to STOV markets. Figures are in comparison to Q1 2016 unless noted.

  • ORV retail sales were down 5% for the quarter.
  • ORV promotions were key as well as a targeted marketing campaign which showed results in March.
  • RFM inventory management system will be expanded for side-by-sides later this year.
  • Management reports an improved process for quickly tracking and identifying vehicle issues that will improve product safety and recall response.
  • Management did not change full year guidance for the ORV business and expects promotional costs to remain elevated and on par with 2016 levels.
  • ORV promotions are being matched by competitors.
  • Taylor-Dunn added to the significant increase in Global Adjacent Markets revenue.
  • Management expects RFM and a revamped marketing organization to create a more customer focused organization and improve sales.
  • ORV retail sales for the year are expected to be down slightly.
  • The ORV industry is expected to be flat to down for the year and was down mid-single digits in Q1 2017.
  • Continued poor performance in the oil and gas regions and the agriculture market are hurting sales.
  • The Multix launch was underwhelming, and a rapidly changing regulatory framework related to safety requirements and emission standards may provide significant obstacles.

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings call transcript)

 

Another Large Ranger Recall From Polaris

2015 Polaris Ranger Crew 900 Sage Green

The 2015 Ranger Crew 900 Sage Green is part of another large Polaris recall.

Polaris 2015 Ranger XP 900 EPS Hunter Deluxe Edition

The Ranger XP 900 EPS Hunter Deluxe Edition is included as well.

Polaris 2015 Ranger 900 XP Solar Red

The wide-ranging recall includes all model year 2015 Polaris Ranger XP 900, XP 900 EPS, and CREW 900 like the Ranger 900 XP Solar Red.

Despite extensive efforts to address recall problems, Polaris announced another large recall of Ranger vehicles. Approximately 51,000 model year 2015 Ranger XP 900 and Ranger Crew utility vehicles are being recalled because “…the heat shield can fall off the vehicle, posing fire and burn hazards…”. The recall also includes about 1,500 2017 Sportsman ATVs that have been sold. Vehicle owners should stop using the vehicles and contact their local dealer for a free repair. (Full recall details follow at the end of the post.)

One question with all these recall is what impact are they having on the company’s sales. Management has reported losing market share in recent quarterly earnings calls, and a chunk of that is likely to Can-Am, which has had successful introductions of their Maverick X3 models in the sport segment and their Defender models targeting the more utility/work oriented segment. The recalls have been so large and persistent and stretching over such a long period of time that one would have to assume some damage to the Polaris brand, even though Polaris management appears to be reacting relatively quickly to the overall recall issue. Management reports making high level personnel hires, bringing in other personnel with specific engineering expertise, developing new processes and spending significant financial resources to address the issue. This latest recall came as a result of their new process to more quickly track post-sales issues.

Besides affecting the brand and sales directly, these recalls may indicate a more deep-seated problem with the company’s product development process. Some of these recalls are the result of underlying engineering and design issues. How did these issues survive their product development process? Addressing this issue is arguably the most critical.

One of Polaris’ advantages on their way to a dominant position in the off-road vehicle market has been their ability to quickly and regularly produce new vehicle models. What CEO Scott Wine likes to refer to as their “armada” of vehicles provides Polaris with an extensive lineup of vehicles to cover a wide range of market sub-segments, end-use applications and price points. This has enabled Polaris to better meet specific customer needs with more tailored vehicles than their competitors.

The ability to innovate and quickly bring new vehicles to market is even more important now as competition in the side-by-side market has elevated in the past 2-3 years. A host of OEMs are now producing more vehicles, more quickly and attacking a wider range of market sub-segments. This translates into greater head-to-head feature and pricing competition between individual vehicle models. If a weakness is revealed in a product lineup then it needs to be quickly remedied with a new model or variation of an existing model or that OEM risks losing sales on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the vehicle product development process is critical to success and Polaris will need to fix any underlying problems in their process.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

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

Recall Details

Units:  About 51,000

Description: This recall involves all model year 2015 Polaris Ranger XP 900, XP 900 EPS, and CREW 900 recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). The recalled ROVs were sold in a variety of colors and have either three or six seats and a rear box. “Ranger” is printed on the rear box, and “900” is printed on the hood of the ROVs. All 2015 Ranger 900 models and vehicle identification numbers (VINs) are included in this recall. The VIN is printed on the frame on the driver’s side towards the rear of the vehicle. To check for recalled vehicles by VIN, visit www.polaris.com.

Model Year Model Number Model
2015 R15RTA87AA RANGER 900 XP SAGE GREEN
2015 R15RTA87AR RANGER 900 XP SOLAR RED
2015 R15RTA87AC RANGER XP 900 POLARIS PURSUIT CAMO
2015 R15RTE87AA RANGER XP 900 EPS SAGE GREEN
2015 R15RTE87AR RANGER XP 900 EPS SOLAR RED
2015 R15RUA87AA RANGER CREW 900 SAGE GREEN
2015 R15RUA87AR RANGER CREW 900 SOLAR RED
2015 R15RUY87AA RANGER CREW 900-6 SAGE GREEN
2015 R15RTE87AK RANGER XP 900 EPS BLACK PEARL
2015

2015

R15RTE87AM RANGER XP 900 EPS SUPER STEEL GRAY
2015 R15RTE87AS RANGER XP 900 EPS SUNSET RED
2015 R15RTE87AW RANGER XP 900 EPS WHITE LIGHTNING
2015 R15RTE87AX RANGER XP 900 EPS SANDSTONE METALLIC
2015 R15RTE87AZ RANGER XP 900 EPS SUNSET RED SILVER
2015 R15RTE87AB RANGER XP 900 EPS HUNTER EDITION
2015 R15RUE87AC RANGER CREW 900 EPS POLARIS PURSUIT CAMO
2015 R15RUE87AM RANGER CREW 900 EPS SUPER STEEL GRAY
2015 R15RUE87AS RANGER CREW 900 EPS SUNSET RED
2015 R15RUE87AW RANGER CREW 900 EPS WHITE LIGHTNING
2015 R15RUZ87AC RANGER CREW 900-6 EPS POLARIS PURSUIT CAMO
2015 R15RUZ87AS RANGER CREW 900-6 EPS SUNSET RED
2015 R15RUZ87AW RANGER CREW 900-6 EPS WHITE LIGHTNING
2015 R15RTE87AV RANGER XP 900 EPS VOGUE SILVER DELUXE
2015 R15RTE87A5 RANGER XP 900 EPS HUNTER DELUXE EDITION
2015 R15RTE87A2 RANGER XP 900 EPS NORTHSTAR DELUXE EDITION

Incidents/Injuries:  Polaris has received 13 incident reports involving the recalled ROVs, including five reports of fires. No injuries have been reported.

Remedy:  Consumer should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris to schedule a free repair. Polaris is contacting all known purchasers directly.

Sold At:  Polaris dealers nationwide from April 2014 through March 2017 for between $13,400 and $21,300.

Manufacturer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.

Importer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.

Manufactured In:  U.S. and Mexico

Learn more:  CPSC.gov

Another Polaris Recall: RZR, RZR Turbo & GENERAL Vehicles

The model year 2017 is the General 1000 EPS Hunter Edition in Polaris Pursuit Camo is one of the vehicles involved in the recall.

Polaris announced a recall of model year 2016 and 2017 RZR 900, 1000, Turbo and GENERAL 1000 utility vehicles. The recall involves approximately 13,500 vehicles. According to the notice, “The vehicle engine can misfire and the temperatures of the exhaust and nearby components can get too hot and cause the components to melt, and/or a contaminated brake master cylinder may cause unintended brake drag, posing burn and fire hazards.”

Relative to more recent Polaris recalls this one is not that large, but compared to more typical recalls in the industry that involve a few thousand vehicles, this is a large recall. The recall does include RZR 900, 1000 and RZR Turbo models that have previously been recalled. The GENERAL 1000 being involved in a recall is a new development.

Based on recent quarterly earnings calls with Wall Street analysts, the management has put a lot of money and manpower into fixing the underlying product development issues that lead to their recent massive RZR and Ranger recalls. The origin of the issues for this latest recall probably pre-date these efforts, but management is likely disappointed with this development as they have been trying to put these recalls behind them and repair damage to the Polaris brand. A recent report from BMO Capital Markets states that the recall is considered a ‘non-event’ by dealers who are having strong start to the year and think the recall will only have a ‘minimal impact’.

The following information is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Recall Details

Units:  About 13,500 (The RZR Turbo and RZR 900 and 1000 have previously been recalled.)

Description:  This recall involves model year 2016 and 2017 RZR 900, 1000, Turbo and GENERAL 1000 recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs). “Polaris” is printed on the front grill and “RZR” or “GENERAL” is printed on the side of the rear cargo area. The ROVs were sold in various colors. Visit the CPSC website see a complete list of the models involve.

Incidents/Injuries:  Polaris has received 14 reports of vehicles catching fire related to the brake master cylinder and one report of fire and two reports of melting vehicle components related to an engine misfire. No injuries have been reported.

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris for a free repair. Polaris is contacting all known purchasers directly, and consumers can check their VIN on the Polaris website.

Sold At:  Polaris dealers nationwide from August 2015 through February 2017 for between $12,800 and $24,000.

Importer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.

Distributor(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.

Manufactured In:  Mexico and U.S.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Eicher-Polaris Adjusting Multix Strategy

Eicher Polaris Multix

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

Eicher-Polaris, the Indian joint venture between Eicher Motors and Polaris, is adjusting their Multix marketing strategy to boost a lackluster rollout, according to reports from the Economic Times of India. The less than expected performance has been mentioned in recent quarterly earnings calls with analysts. Eicher-Polaris has already boosted the Multix’s power with a more powerful and BS IV compliant engine. The company plans on doubling their dealer network to 150 locations over the next six months and looks to more aggressively market this new concept vehicle. Additional resources are being allocated to marketing strategy consultants and customer research to inform future marketing initiatives.

The joint venture’s management has moved back their breakeven time frame by up to two years and may start producing ATVs at the Multix plant to help in that regard. The plant, located in Jaipur, has a capacity to produce 60,000 vehicles annually, so ATVs could fill some of that capacity until the Multix can develop some momentum.

This isn’t the first time Polaris has had difficulties in markets outside of the powersports arena. They have had some challenges along the way with their Bobcat partnership, Brutus line sold to commercial and government markets, as well as, some issues with traditional Polaris dealers trying to sell GEMs after the brand was first acquired.

While one might expect the past success of Polaris might produce different results, these difficulties are not completely unexpected. Selling to commercial and government customers is different than selling a new off-road vehicle to a powersport customer. With the latter, Polaris’ established presence in the market facilitates a build it and they will come approach, and the company has had years to hone their PR and marketing campaigns for a market often eager for the next best thing. Literally, dealers can wait for customers to walk through their doors,

In the commercial/government market customers are often constrained by budgets and budgetary calendars, and a dealer has to be pro-active. The successful dealers I have met in this market all aggressively make on site visits and demo vehicles for potential customers, as well as, attend trade shows, exhibitions and other venues where potential customers congregate. This is essentially a different type of dealer than the powersports dealer. This is not to say that Eicher-Polaris and Polaris won’t be successful in these markets. Despite these hurdles, Polaris has continued to grow their commercial business and their recent acquisition of Taylor-Dunn shows they are committed to a long-term strategy. In fact, overcoming these hurdles is building an institutional knowledge of these markets that should improve help them moving forward.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

How Will Textron’s Arctic Cat Acquisition Impact The STOV Market

Textron E-Z-GO Logo

Textron’s recent acquisition of Arctic Cat raises some interesting questions about the acquisition itself and how other companies in the market may react. In particular, what does the acquisition mean for Club Car.

One question is whether or not Textron will continue investing in the Bad Boy Off-Road brand. Except for the electric powered Bad Boy Off-Road UTVs the brand’s product offerings are redundant given the more popular Arctic Cat product lineup. One can argue that the dealer networks are sufficiently different that the brands can effectively reach different customer bases and not cannibalize each other’s sales.  A quick perusal of the Bad Boy dealer network indicates that most of their dealer s are golf car related with some power sports dealers. Moving forward, Bad Boy how much resources are put into product development, and what type of vehicles they develop should indicate the direction the brand will take in the context of Arctic Cat acquisition.

Another issue is the potential clash of corporate cultures between Textron Specialized Vehicles and Arctic Cat. Textron is a large conglomerate with over $13 billion in sales annually and a particular corporate culture while Arctic Cat is a much smaller company coming out of a powersports background. How well these companies will mesh will be interesting to see. Keeping Arctic Cat as a stand alone operating unit can mitigate any cultural problems to a certain degree. However, any future financial difficulties at Arctic Cat could generate more intrusion from Textron management regarding Arctic Cat operations.

Club Car is targeting the commercial market with the Carryall 700 and other vehicles.

A more intriguing question is how the acquisition of Arctic Cat might impact Club Car, which is now the only large stand alone fleet golf car manufacturer. While Yamaha Golf Cars are separate from their UTV and ATVs business, they are both part of their Power Products division. Similarly Textron has developed their Textron Specialty Vehicles division that combines a range of small, task-oriented vehicles from airport tugs, to fleet golf cars to off-road ATVs and UTVs.

Ingersoll-Rand and Club Car has taken a decidedly different approach. Rather than collecting other categories of vehicles, they have opted to focus on building out the sales of golf cars for personal/golf use and commercial oriented utility vehicles that are based off of their golf car platform. Management confirmed this approach when asked about the Arctic Cat acquisition during their recent fourth quarter earnings call.  According to recent financial results Club Car has been successful with positive growth in the commercial/utility segment while the fleet side continues to lag. However, the business is relatively small compared to the overall size of the company which had $13.5 billion in sales in 2016, and Club Car is part of their smaller Industrial segment.

This raises the possibility that Club Car may be an inviting candidate for divestiture. But who might be interested in buying Club Car? One possibility is Honda Motor. They already have a range of motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and scooters. An acquisition of Club Car could further diversify their vehicle portfolio. In addition, golf is a popular sport in Japan so there could be some degree of personal affinity among the management towards owning a leading golf car company. Club Car would offer a premium brand and a different distribution channel that might be useful for moving other Honda products. It would also add some electric vehicle expertise to Honda as well as additional global manufacturing capabilities.

Another possibility is Polaris, which has been acquiring small vehicle brands over the past several years. Polaris tends to acquire leading brands in a particular segment and many consider Club Car to be the leading golf car brand. Besides the premium brand, Club Car would bring some other positives to the table:

  • Global brand and distribution
  • China based manufacturing facilities as well as Southeast US facilities and supplier network not far from Polaris’ new Huntsville, AL facility
  • Large volume of electric vehicle sales that can be used spread costs of new battery and electric powertrain development.
  • Entry into the golf car segment
  • Largely separate distribution channel from existing products but similar enough to cross-sell some other Polaris brands
  • Good presence in commercial small vehicle market that Polaris has been targeting

The one drawback is that, from previous presentations, Polaris management considers the golf car segment a low growth segment. In large part this is due to the stagnant fleet golf car market which is the major portion of the golf car segment. However, E-Z-GO’s recent introduction of lithium battery powered fleet golf cars represents a potentially significant shift in the market. If lithium battery golf cars can disrupt the fleet market, this might create a more appealing market to Polaris. Providing an opportunity to leverage their expertise in electric vehicles, increase electric vehicle unit volume to lower costs and find a growth avenue in an otherwise stagnant fleet market. Despite recent headwinds from recall issues, Polaris still has the financial resources for such an acquisition. It will be interesting to see if they move in this direction.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Textron Acquires Arctic Cat

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Textron Specialized Vehicles will now compete in the recreational side-by-side market with vehicles like the 2017 Wildcat X from Arctic Cat with RG Pro suspension.

Textron is buying Arctic Cat for $247 million. Arctic Cat will become part of Textron’s Specialized Vehicle business and Textron’s management stated that the current manufacturing, distribution and operational facilities will be maintained. Arctic Cat employs about 1,600 people in production and management facilities mostly in Minnesota. Textron management remarked that the acquisition will allow for “…more aggressive investment in product development, dealer networks, marketing and customer service.” For the full fiscal year ended March 31, 2016, Arctic Cat reported a net loss of $9.2 million on net sales of $632.9 million. Sales are roughly split between ATVs/UTVs and snowmobiles. For fiscal year 2017 they were expecting similar sales.

This acquisition by Textron makes them much more of a direct competitor with Polaris. While Polaris has been expanding into more work and transportation related products with acquisitions of GEM, Aixam, Goupil and Taylor-Dunn, which puts it in direct competition with Textron’s Cushman, TUG and E-Z-GO vehicles, Textron has been expanding with their roll-out of the Bad Boy Off-Road brand of UTVs and ATVs. This acquisition significantly adds to the products and markets where they will be competing head to head.

This deal should provide the Arctic Cat brand with a lot more financial muscle to expand their dealer network and develop new products. For Textron there are a number of benefits:

  • In Arctic Cat they acquire a well established brand.
  • They acquire a power sports dealer network which is distinctly different then what they currently have.
  • They expand their reach in the UTV market, not only in terms of sales volume and distribution, but in the pure recreational market segment
  • They add a completely new type of vehicle to their portfolio with snowmobiles
  • They add geographic diversity to their manufacturing facility portfolio

It will be interesting to see what happens with the Bad Boy Off-Road brand. There is some overlap of product lines with Arctic Cat. A quick perusal of the Bad BoyOff-Road dealer network reveals that many or even most of the dealers are golf car related dealers with some power sports dealers. They could continue to develop the brand or fold some of the products into the Arctic Cat brand. Perhaps, lower than expected success of the Bad Boy Off-Road launch was one reason for acquiring Arctic Cat. Why spend a large amount of resources building a new brand in a very crowded market with no guarantee of success when they can acquire a well established brand such as Arctic Cat.

Learn more:  Arctic Cat

Polaris GEM Issues Recall

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Polaris GEM e2

The 2016 GEM e2 is part of the recall.

GEM, owned by Polaris, has issued a recall for 2016-2017 e2, e4, e6, and eL XD models because the drive mode switch can send an incorrect signal, causing the vehicle to go in the opposite direction than intended. This is a fairly large recall for GEM in relation to their annual sales. It seems few Polaris brands can escape recall issues of late.

The following information is from NHTSA.

Campaign Number: 16V884000

Manufacturer Polaris Industries, Inc.

Components ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

Potential Number of Units Affected 1,644

Summary

Polaris Industries, Inc. (Polaris) is recalling certain 2016-2017 GEM e2, e4, e6, and eL XD electric vehicles manufactured May 29, 2015, to November 18, 2016. The drive mode switch can send an incorrect signal, causing the vehicle to go in the opposite direction than intended.

Remedy

Polaris will notify owners, and dealers will replace the drive switch, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in December 2016. Owners may contact GEM Consumer Service Department at 1-855-743-3436. Polaris’ number for this recall is L-16-01.

Notes

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Polaris Announces New UTV Models

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Polaris General 1000 EPS Ride Command Edition Black Pearl

The Polaris General 1000 EPS Ride Command Edition Black Pearl headlines the mid model year UTV additions.

Polaris announced a number of new utility vehicles across their General, Ranger and RZR product lines. As is typical for these mid-year additions, the models are variations of existing vehicles and many are new color options.

Most notable is the Ride Command edition of the General 1000 EPS, the General1000 EPS Ride Command Edition Black Pearl. Ride Command was launched last year on a limited edition RZR XP 1000 EPS and met with enough success to carry over the technology to the General line. Ride Command “…enables riders to connect with other riders and provides centralized, seamless device control, including integration with mobile phones, cameras and audio.”

The RIDE COMMAND system includes the RIDE COMMAND mobile app and a weather-resistant, glove-touch RIDE COMMAND 7-in. display. The centralized display is the central hub for GPS mapping, listening to favorite music through Bluetooth® or AM/FM radio, controlling a GoPro® camera and to receive texts. In tandem with the RIDE COMMAND app, the display allows riders to track other riders in their group without needing to physically see them. The app also enables riders to map routes in advance, as well as track and share their ride directly to their social feed.

The Polaris GENERAL 1000 EPS RIDE COMMAND Edition Black Pearl features the RIDE COMMAND 7-in. display and several accessories that integrate into the system including front and rear cameras, and a MTX® Premium 8-Speaker Audio system. Other standard accessories include a front bumper, Polaris HD 4500 lb. Winch, Poly Sport Roof and FOX® QS3 Shocks.

The MSRP for this model is $21,499.

Ranger XP 900 EPS Silver Pearl

The Ranger XP 900 EPS in Silver Pearl.

A Ranger XP 900 EPS Silver Pearl option has also been added and features automotive style paint, aluminum wheels and electronic power steering (EPS) with an MSRP of $13,999. For the Ranger 500 a Sage Green color option was added with the MSRP remaining unchanged at $8,999.

For the RZR product line the new additions consist of new color options for various models with no changes to MSRPs compared to similar models. New color options include:

  • RZR S 900 EPS Titanium Metallic
  • RZR 4 900 EPS Titanium Metallic
  • RZR S 1000 EPS Spectra Orange
  • RZR XP 1000 EPS White Lightning with Reflex Blue
  • RZR XP 4 1000 EPS White Lightning with Reflex Blue

It is not surprising that there aren’t any big additions to their line-up. Not only is it mid model year but Polaris has been putting a lot of resources toward fixing their recall issues with Rangers and RZRs. The recall issue also impacts dealer inventory which Polaris is trying to closely manage and any major additions would require adding to dealer inventory. While Polaris is not likely to stop launching significant new models, they will probably be launched mid calendar year by which they hope to have resolved a majority of the recall issues.

Learn more:  Polaris.com

Should Autocycles Be Next For STOV Manufacturers

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Arcimoto SRK

The electric powered Arcimoto SRK is expected to be available later this year.

I have come across a number of articles recently focusing on autocycles and I thought this might be a potential product development direction for STOV manufacturers.

First, what is an autocycle? It is basically a three-wheeled vehicle such as the Slingshot by Polaris, or offerings from start ups such as Elio Motors and Arcimoto. There is no standard definition for an autocycle in the US or other countries. In the US, an autocycle is typically classified as a motorcycle, although not always, as Polaris discovered with their Slingshot. They have had to work with some states to develop legislation to allow their vehicles on the road. (See how the classification for the Slingshot varies by state.)

The benefit of being classified as a motorcycle is that the vehicle does not have to conform to more expensive automobile safety standards. This benefit is key to providing STOV manufacturers with a new product opportunity. In particular, I believe Polaris and the golf car manufacturers are well positioned to produce a more practical neighborhood electric vehicle that can provide a good value proposition in relation to street legal golf cars (new or used), low speed vehicles and lower priced highway capable cars.

Now Polaris already has the Slingshot, but this is more of a recreational vehicle designed for those interested in a motorcycle like experience with a greater sense of safety and requiring less driving skill. The Slingshot is highway capable, features a gas engine and pricing starts around $22,000. The not yet in production Elio Motors autocycle is also gas powered, highway capable and has a base price of $7,300. The electric powered Arcimoto SRK is expected to be available this year, has a top speed of 80 mph and starts at $12,000 for the 12kWh model which provides a 70 mile range. Like Slingshot, the Elio and SRK provide seating for two but they are placed front to back rather than side to side as in the Slingshot. All three feature two wheels up front and one in the rear.

While all three of these vehicles are capable of highway speeds, I propose that there is a real market opportunity for a medium speed vehicle (MSV). The medium speed, say up to 40-45 mph, would make the vehicles more practical to use for personal transport than golf cars or LSVs which top out at 19-25 mph. STOV manufacturers have pushed for a MSV designation but NHTSA has not been willing to budge on the costly safety standards for four-wheeled vehicles. This is why the motorcycle/autocycle classification is critical to this opportunity. A MSV autocycle would be a more viable second vehicle for many households and a more versatile neighborhood vehicle for those in gated or retirement communities.

The vehicle should also be electric powered to maximize the environmental benefits and also take advantage of electric motorcycle incentives where available. An electric autocycle would provide a significantly less expensive electric vehicle option to green consumers than the currently available electric cars. A MSV would also require a smaller battery pack than a highway capable electric autocycle, further reducing costs. Of course, a highway capable option could be made available but that would start driving up the costs.

Besides the aforementioned startups, who is positioned to develop these type of vehicles? Polaris is an obvious choice. They already have experience designing, engineering and producing an autocycle and they are innovators. They also have been acquiring electric drivetrain technology (Brammo) and electric vehicle brands such as GEM, Goupil and Taylor-Dunn. It is a vehicle that could potentially fit nicely into their portfolio of the brands that are sold internationally. The biggest challenge for Polaris would be distribution. A MSV autocycle would probably not be a good fit for their powersports dealers, as the customers would be more transportation than recreation oriented. Their brands such as Goupil, Taylor-Dunn and even GEM are geared more towards the commercial customer. Polaris might have to partner with another company to access the right distribution channels.

This brings us to the golf car manufacturers. They have the expertise in developing and selling electric vehicles, but not necessarily the three-wheeled variety and have been more focused on lead acid battery packs. One could argue that they also haven’t been that innovative. They do however have the right distribution network. Their customers are already coming to them for personal transportation solutions.

A MSV autocycle could find a home in Textron’s (maker of E-Z-GO) Specialty Vehicle division which encompasses a wide range of small, task-oriented vehicles. They have also been striking out into new territory with new ATV and UTV products under the Bad Boy Off-road brand. Another option is Yamaha Golf Car, although they are the smallest of the big three manufacturers. This leaves Club Car. As a subsidiary of Ingersoll-Rand they certainly have the financial wherewithal to develop a vehicle on their own, and they may be the best fit for a partnership with Polaris. Unlike Yamaha and Textron they do not compete directly with Polaris in the recreational UTV space. They are also considered by many to be the highest quality brand of the three and have over 600 distributors, dealers and factory branch locations.

It will be interesting to see if the autocycles from Elio and Arcimoto prove to be popular and encourage other manufacturers to join the fray.

Learn more:  Arcimoto.com

Learn more:  Eliomotors.com

 

Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Reviews

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

The Ranger XP 1000 EPS in Nara Bronze.

The Ranger XP 1000 EPS in Nara Bronze.

This past summer Polaris introduced the Ranger XP 1000 lineup for model year 2017 that featured a 80 hp engine. The lineup includes a Ranger XP 1000 base model priced at $13,999, three EPS models at $15,999 and four special edition models with MSRPs ranging from $16,999 for the Hunter Edition to $23,699 for the Northstar HVAC Edition. The latter comes with a full cab and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. There is also High Lifter Edition model for mud riding and a Ranch Edition for work. Similarly there is a new lineup of Ranger Crew XP 1000 models including one base model priced at $15,199 MSRP, three EPS models at $16,999 and High Lifter and Northstar HVAC Editions priced at $20,499 and $25,999 respectively. Key features of the Ranger XP 1000 include:

  • 80 hp, 999cc ProStar engine with EFI
  • True On-Demand AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode
  • 10″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 12″ of ground clearance
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 25″ tires on steel wheels
  • 1,000 lb. cargo box capacity
  • 2,000 lb. towing capacity and 2″ receiver hitch
  • 3 person capacity
  • Tilt steering

The EPS models include the following:

  • EPS
  • 26″ tires on aluminum Black Xcelerator wheels
  • Pro-Lock On-Demand AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode
  • Adjustable driver seat

www.texasoutdoorsnetwork.com – Video walk through, first drive and review of the Hunter Edition which adds camo bodywork, winch, cut and sew seats, gun scabbards and active descent control.

  • Tilt bed has standard tailgate like a pickup truck
  • Industry leading horsepower
  • Engine behind the seat makes it less noisy and cooler
  • Lots of storage

Video review – Dealer walkthrough of Range XP 1000 Ranch Edition.  More of a walkthrough than a review. The Ranch Edition includes:

  • 4,500 lb. winch
  • Brush guard
  • Rear view mirror
  • In cab gun mounts
  • Poly sport roof
  • Maxxis tires
  • Headache rack
  • Wire spool
  • T-post hauler
  • Self-leveling suspension
  • Rear brush guard
  • Pro-Lock On-Demand AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode

Polaris – Video comparison of Ranger XP 1000 and Honda Pioneer 1000. This is produced by Polaris so obviously it shows the Ranger in a better light. More interesting is some of the comments left by users. First though, some of the advantages of the Ranger XP 1000 as pointed out by Polaris.

  • More horsepower
  • Better acceleration
  • Easier to use on-demand all-wheel drive
  • More leg room
  • Better throttle control
  • Better sealed cab system

As users point out, the comparison is between the three person Ranger vs. the 5-person Pioneer instead of the 3 person Pioneer, which users think is an apples to oranges comparison. Other comments include:

  • No mention of Honda Pioneer’s paddle shifters and dual clutch system which avoids blown belts and some consider more fun to drive
  • Some consider Honda to be more reliable and longer lasting
  • Shorter wheelbase of Pioneer 1000-5 vs. the Crew version of the Ranger XP 1000 and thus better maneuverability on trails
  • No comparison of towing, fuel or storage
  • General comments about Polaris skewing the comparison