Eicher Polaris JV Launches Multix: A Personal Utility Vehicle for Indian Market

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

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

Eicher Polaris Pvt. Ltd., a 50:50 joint venture between Eicher Motors Ltd and Polaris Industries Inc., launched the Multix India’s  first personal utility vehicle. The Multix, available in two versions and four colors, is targeting the “independent businessman”. The Multix is being positioned as a versatile vehicle that can be used for both business and family purposes. Management estimates the market size to be 60 million households. From initial idea to launch took Eicher and Polaris about five years and $60 million. Extensive consumer testing was performed to identify the market and test the concept. The Multix is being viewed as launching a new vehicle category. Initial production is expected to be 5,000 vehicles per month and the manufacturing facilities can expand to handle twice that volume.

Key features of the Multix include:

  • 500cc Diesel engine
  • Cabin space that can comfortably seat a family of five along with luggage
  • Multix can be adapted to create large storage space of 1918 liters.
  • X-PORT a unique power-take-off point, which can generate power of up to 3 KW that can be used for lighting homes and powering professional equipment
  • Pro Ride Independent suspension system
  • Ground clearance of 225mm,
  • Mileage of 28.45 kmpl.
  • Tubular frame structure and Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) 
  • Flexituff body

The two Multix versions are priced at 3,620 USD or 2.32 Lakh and 4,245 USD or 2.72 Lakh. The vehicle will be launched in 30 cities with test drives starting in July and deliveries in August. Learn more: Equitybulls.com

Comment:  In contrast to the US market where a crossover utility vehicle means a vehicle for work and play, in the Indian market it means work and family use. This utility vehicle/mini-truck market is very dynamic. Not only do you have new entrants like Eicher-Polaris with the Multix, but there are also a number of startups receiving venture capital that are targeting the independent delivery/shipping market that utilize these vehicles. These companies are using software and other technology to make the process of locating and quickly accessing a shipper much more efficient. This could prove to be another catalyst for the vehicle market.

Jordan Initiates EV Solar Charging Project

The Jordanian government is working with a consortium of companies to develop a pilot project demonstrating the use of solar powered charging stations.  The consortium includes AllCell (USA), Nissan (Japan), DBT (France), MATRA (France), Sun Phocus (USA), Nissan Jordan and NETenergy, a Jordanian start-up company.  The Ministry of Environment has signed a memorandum of understanding and is planning on procuring 300 Nissan Leafs as well as other “light electric” vehicles such as e-bikes, e-scooters and NEVs.  Learn more:  Zawya.com

KYMCO To Launch 700cc UTV In The US

Kwang Yang Motor Co., Ltd. (KYMCO), the largest powered two-wheeler manufacturer in Taiwan recently announced major 2011 marketing initiatives including the introduction of a 700cc UTV in the US market.  The company which took over the remaining share of KYMCO US in 2010 expects to sell 1,000 UTVs in the US this year.  Management expects UTVs to eventually replace ATVs in the market.  Total revenue for the company is about $1 billion a year.  Learn more:  News.cens.com

TrikE: Another Low Speed Transportation Option

TrikE Commuter Vehicle

TrikE - A new option for the urban commuter

The TrikE is an electric  power assisted bicycle designed to provide urban commuters with a transportation option that takes advantage of the increasing miles of bike lanes.  Developed by Speed Studio Design, the TrikE features weather protection, light cargo storage and a 36v lithium battery pack which drives a 750W motor.  The TrikE has a top speed of 20 mph and is classified as a bicycle.  The vehicle is positioned, in part, as a more affordable transportation option than NEVs.  Learn more:  Design-daily.com

China Market News

A recent report showed strong growth in what is referred to as China’s low speed vehicle market which includes low-speed trucks and three wheeled vehicles.  Compared to the first quarter of 2009, the output of low-speed trucks climbed 6.43% to 142,700 units, while that of three-wheeled vehicles rose 17.45% to 493,000 units.  In both sub-segments the top 10 producers account for nearly 90% or more of the output.  Learn more:  Alibaba.com

Electric Vehicle Dealerships Struggle In Bay Area

A recent story chronicles the struggles of a number of electric vehicle dealerships in the San Francisco area.  Some have closed their doors, others report low sales and some are changing their focus to the commercial market and/or their product mix.  The latter includes switching to off-road electric vehicles and electric bikes or scooters.

The factors causing a downturn for these dealerships, which primarily sell LSVs, include lower gas prices, a poor economy in which these vehicles as a second car become a luxury, and the inability to drive the vehicles on highways.  Learn more:  Contracostatimes.com

Comment: It is not clear that this trend is a national one or local, given the level of highway use in California.  In 2009 LSV sales were robust as a whole because of generous federal tax credits.  I think in areas that have a history of widespread use of these vehicles as well as golf cars, electric vehicle dealerships should have a better chance of success.  Unfortunately for many of these dealerships, they opened not too long before the economic downturn. As the economy rebounds and electric vehicles that can attain highway speeds come to market, it will be interesting to see if these type of dealerships start to increase again. – Marc Cesare

Company News

Global Motor Services – This newcomer to the electric vehicle market is using former Bears coach Mike Ditka to promote their products.  Their current line-up includes a converted Chevy Aveo and a three-wheeled scooter.  They expect to add an LSV in the future and currently have dealers in San Diego, New Jersey, Las Vegas and Chicago.  Learn more:  Autobloggreen

Zap – Zap has shipped a Zaptruck XL equipped with a solar panel to a large government agency.  The solar panel supplements normal charging and provides some extra range. Learn more:  Zjucnc.org

Also the company has been awarded “…an engineering prototype contract for the design and development of an electric mail truck.”  This project is for converting a US Postal Service gas vehicle to electric propulsion.  Learn more:  Autobloggreen

Cruise Car – Adam Sulimirski has been promoted to the position of General Manager from Global Sales Director.  Learn more:  Madduxpress.com

ZENN To Stop LSV Production; ZAP Phasing Out Xebra?

ZENN announced that it will be stopping production of their LSV in April 2010. As had been reported earlier the company is shifting it’s focus to the development of electric drivetrains based on EEStor technology. The company reports selling about 500 of their LSVs in three years.

Learn more: Reuters.com

In another story about phasing out a vehicle, a careful examination of ZAP’s most recent quarterly findings, seem to indicate that they will be phasing out their three-wheeled Xebra model. From their 10-Q for the quarter ending September 30, 2009:

The decrease of $1.5 million (in revenue) is primarily due to the phase out of our three wheeled Xebra vehicle with reduced selling prices.

In addition the company appears to be putting less emphasis on development of the Alias model.

Research and development expenses decreased by $57,000 from $138,000 in 2008 to $81,000 for the third quarter ended September 30, 2009. The decrease was due to less work on the development of the Alias prototype vehicle

Learn more: thetruthaboutcars.com

Aptera Facing Difficulties

Recent reports indicate that three-wheeled, electric vehicle maker Aptera is having development and financial difficulties. The founders have reportedly been pushed out and staff has been cut. Changes to the vehicle design to widen the vehicle’s appeal has delayed the launch date significantly and created more capital demands in the middle of a poor investment climate. Loans from the US government’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program is potentially a source for cash infusion. Learn more: Autogloggreen

Scooter Manufacturer Eyeing Texas

National Scooter Company based in Nacogdoches, Texas is looking to break ground on a manufacturing plant for electric scooters next March.  The CEO Greg James is trying to secure federal grant money and finalize negotiations to buy a portion of Twist N’ go Scooters of Seattle.  Currently the vehicles are made in China. Plans call for the plant to be operational in March 2011.  The company will also make gas powered scooters.  The future could also include three-wheeled vehicles, collapsible vehicles, five-wheelers, off-road two-wheelers for hunters and street-legal neighborhood electric vehicles.  Learn more:  Dailysentinel.com