Planned Development Communities As Incubators For Future Mobility

Eli Zero NEV

The new Eli Zero NEV from Eli Electric Vehicles is expected to reach market in late 2018 and is positioned as an urban transportation solution and future mobility concept.

My colleague Stephen Metzger recently wrote a piece on how gated communities could serve as an excellent incubator for testing future mobility systems. These systems include on-demand vehicles, self-driving and autonomous driving technology, ride-sharing systems, and new public transport options. Future mobility concepts typically feature electric vehicles being used in urban environments. He argues that the urban environment presents a myriad of obstacles and complexities for future mobility to overcome and solve, but gated communities offer a simpler but still useful testing ground for future mobility concepts.

Some of the advantages for gated communities include:

  • A better planned transportation environment into which mobility concepts can more easily be introduced
  • Population already using or conditioned to small, electric vehicles like golf cars and LSVs
  • Portion of the population that cannot drive themselves and could benefit from greater mobility

The article concludes with some examples of new small, electric vehicles with an eye towards future mobility that are entering or trying to break into the market.

Learn more:  Smallvehicleresource.com

 

Ingersoll-Rand Q4 2017 Earnings

Club Car Tempo 4Fun

The four-person Club Car Tempo 4Fun fills out the new fleet line, which Ingersoll-Rand expects to help maintain momentum in their Small Electric Vehicle business.

Ingersoll-Rand, which makes a range of commercial and industrial products including Club Car golf cars and utility vehicles, recently reported Q4 2017 financial results. For the quarter net revenues increased 8% to $3.6 billion from $3.4 billion and for the year they increased 5% to $14.2 billion from $13.5 billion. Club Car revenues account for only a small portion of the overall revenues. The Industrial segment, which includes Club Car, reported Q4 net revenues of $858 million, a 7% increase from $800 million in Q4 of the previous year.

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

  • The Small Electric Vehicle portion of the Industrial segment grew low teens percent on strength in both vehicle and aftermarket sales, particularly in North America
  • The Club Car Tempo Connect golf car was just launched at the recent PGA Show.

Guidance for 2018

  • Industrial segment revenue overall is expected to increase 5.5% to 6.0%
  • Golf/Utility/Consumer end markets are expected to increase mid-single digits
  • Golf utility vehicles and consumer vehicles combined are generally expected to be flat to slightly up across the globe.
  • Consumer vehicle continues to grow at a nice clip.
  • Utility vehicles are also expected to have good growth in 2018.
  • The golf market is expected to remain roughly flat

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings Call Transcript)

Nikola Powersports Reveals 2019 NZT UTV Lineup

Nikola NZT

The electric powered Nikola NZT is slated to hit the market in early 2019.

Nikola NZT

Impressive performance specs put the Nikola NZT in direct competition with high end performance UTVs.

Nikola Powersports revealed their four model lineup of UTVs that will be available in 2019 under the new Nikola NZT brand. The four initial models include the NZT 440, NZT 352, NZT 280 and NZT 198. The numbers represent the kW output. There are actually 10 different vehicle configurations planned based on the combination of drivetrain kW and the battery pack size. The entry level NZT 198 weighs in at 2,300 lbs. and pricing starts at $28,900. There will be 75kWh, 100kWh and 125 kWh battery options that translate into 90-150 miles of range. Top end models can start at $45,900. Production is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018 and be in dealerships for Spring 2019. Reservations with no deposit down can be made on the company’s website.

Some of the more interesting aspects and capabilities of the NZT UTV according to management include:

  • 0-60 mph in 3.5 to 5.3 seconds depending on the model
  • Depending on the model the NZT has 266-590 hp and 412-722 ft lbs of torque
  • Motors and gears at each wheel eliminates any belt related problems and delivers instant power, better acceleration and regenerative stopping power
  • Regenerative braking and 14″ disc brakes create double the stopping power and extend life of disc brakes by 3 or 4 times
  • Gear reduction at each wheel provides torque of up to 2,346 ft-lbs per wheel
  • Battery packs weigh from 500 lbs to 1,500 lbs depending on size
  • A DC fast charger can charge the battery pack in as little as 3 hours
  • Lower center of gravity than traditional gas powered UTVs
  • 4″ more legroom than the competition
  • 4G uplink for over-the-air software updates
  • Pin based login instead of keys
  • IP67 rating on all parts provides the vehicle the ability to survive being submerged in water

Additional key features, capabilities and specs of the NZT include:

  • Seating for 4
  • 400V AC Motors
  • 266 hp to 590 hp
  • 75kWh, 100kWh and 125 kWh Lithium Ion battery pack
  • Single gear reduction at each wheel
  • On-demand 2WD/4WD at any speed
  • Regenerative braking and active descent control
  • 20″ of front and rear suspension travel
  • FOX 3.0 Podium Internal Bypass Shocks
  • 33″ Kevlar reinforced tires on 17″ aluminum Method beadlock wheels
  • 14″ of ground clearance
  • EPS
  • 4,500 lb winches front and rear
  • 151″ x 62″ x 74″ LxWxH and 118″ wheelbase
  • Dry Weight:  2,300-4,400 lbs depending on battery pack
  • 3,000 lb. towing capacity
  • Roll cage made of 2″ DOM A-513 military grade steel
  • 12.2″ infotainment display and 7″ instrument cluster
  • 4 USV and two 12V outlets
  • Digital gauge
  • Bluetooth
  • LED headlights, tail and brake lights
  • Optional anti-lock braking
  • Optional Anti-roll over and stability control

Learn more:  Nikolamotor.com

Nikola Powersports kicked off the NZT launch with a high quality video taking direct aim at what will be their competition in the high end performance UTV market. The video shows the NZT giving a couple competing UTVs including a Polaris XP Turbo a sizable head start before catching them and leaving them in the dust over a variety of terrain.

This is another significant step towards Nikola delivering on their initial promise of an all electric, high performance UTV. While they still have to take the major steps of going into production and then actually delivering vehicles, the prototype and a large part of the testing phase appears to have been completed. Obviously the Nikola NZT UTV is going to be very expensive but the lowest priced model is certainly within the price points of the current high end of the market. For example the RZR XP 4 Turbo Dynamix Edition starts at $28,499 and the RZR XP 4 Turbo FOX Edition at $25,499. In addition, even the entry level vehicle promises to provide significant performance advantages over the existing gas-powered vehicles. They are following a similar playbook to Tesla in that they are attacking the high end of the market first and no doubt plan to move down the pricing scale. The real test will be how the existing high end users will take to the Nikola NZT. I assume as Nikola gets closer to actually bringing the vehicle to market, they will be putting some vehicles in the hands of some high profile users. It will be interesting to see their reactions.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Polaris General 1000 EPS Reviews

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

The base model General 1000 EPS is Indy Red with an MSRP of $15,999.

The base model General 1000 EPS is Indy Red with an MSRP of $16,299.

The Polaris General 1000 EPS was developed by Polaris to fill the void between the RZR lineup designed for recreational riding and the Ranger lineup designed primarily for work or utility applications with some recreational use. The General sits in the middle as more of a true recreational-utility crossover vehicle.

The General 1000 EPS is powered by a 100 hp, 999cc ProStar engine with EFI and engine braking system standard. It also has On-Demand True AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode. The high performance close ratio AWD will automatically engage all four wheels when more traction is needed and then revert back to 2WD when more traction is no longer needed. Other features include:

  • Broad torque range – 65 ft. lbs. of torque
  • Electronic Power Steering
  • 12.25″/13.2″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 12″ of ground clearance
  • Front and rear sway bars and dual rate springs to maintain clearance under load
  • 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
  • 27″ Maxxis Coronado tires
  • Cast aluminum wheels
  • 600 lb. capacity dump cargo bed
  • 1,500 lb. towing capacity
  • LED lighting
  • Half doors
  • Bolstered bucket seats
  • Tilt steering
  • Adjustable drive seat
  • MSRP:  $16,299

Compared to the Ranger XP 1000 EPS the General offers less cargo and towing capacity but more horsepower, more speed, more suspension travel, half doors and larger tires.

The following are some of the comments from various expert and user reviews of the Polaris General 1000 EPS. Some common themes across the reviews include:

  • General is a good crossover vehicle that handles both trail riding and work applications
  • Powerful and fast with good torque
  • Interior comfort and ergonomics better than RZR and Ranger with nice seats and instrument cluster
  • Doors protect against the elements well and allow for easy ingress/egress
  • Good suspension and ride

www.utvguide.net – Test ride for a day in New Mexico

  • Suspension borrowed from RZR S 900/1000 works well and many aftermarket parts are available for customizing
  • Good engine power and torque and placement behind cab limits noise
  • Comfortable and roomy seats
  • Well proportioned bed for the range of crossover uses
  • Doors work great and offer protection from elements
  • Well positioned instrument cluster
  • No turf mode (Note: This doesn’t seem to be true as the specs list Versa Trac Turf Mode)
  • Would prefer a larger tire size for rock crawling and clearance in the desert or mud riding
  • Better equipped versions like the Deluxe edition are pricey
  • Overall the General fills a hole in Polaris offerings and the overall feature set is better than competitors.

www.fourwheeler.com – Day of test riding near Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • “Great for dirt sport enthusiasts who need a versatile, all-wheel-drive utilitarian side-by-side.”
  • Low-range gearing worked well on steep inclines and rocky trail conditions
  • Speed reached 60+ mph even at elevation
  • AWD “terrific” for trail riding
  • “…Quite capable of traversing snow, mud, sand and other terrain and doing so with ease…”
  • Agile, powerful and fun to drive
  • Roomier interior than the RZR or Ranger
  • Comfortable seats
  • Seats and center console an improvement over the RZR and Ranger
  • Doors provide good protection from the elements and offer better ingress/egress than the RZR or Ranger
  • Solid at soaking up bumps on the trail
  • Rides level and has sway bars to reduce body roll
  • Engine Braking System performed well
  • Hydraulic assist dump bed is selling point
  • Really good choice for a crossover vehicle

Dirttraxtelevision Video – Review of Polaris General 1000 EPS Deluxe

  • Deluxe version with FOX QS3 is great because of the easy to adjust 3-position shocks for soft, medium or firm.
  • Rides great – plush suspension but avoids bottoming out
  • Awesome power and excellently tuned clutches
  • Good torque
  • Close to 80 mph on top end
  • Seat position more upright than RZR but more laid back than Ranger
  • Easy ingress and egress with doors
  • Instrument panel moves with tilt steering
  • “Highest quality and best laid out interior from Polaris, ever” and more car like than any side-by-side on the market
  • Center console cover is not padded and is slippery as an armrest
  • Performs both recreational and work applications well

User Video – Polaris General 1000 walk around and short drive

  • Tops out at 71 mph
  • Comments on video
    • 0-60 mph took 7.0 seconds
    • Good crossbreed between RZR and Ranger
    • Better seating and more legroom than RZR

www.polarisgeneralforum.com – Comments from various users on General and in comparison to Honda Pioneer 1000. It is the 2016 Polaris General being discussed.

  • Car like dash and controls
  • Better seats than Pioneer – feel like you are sitting in the seat rather than on it
  • Quick
  • Sportier than Pioneer
  • Nicer than the RZR 900
  • Long discussion on the Polaris AWD system with auto-locking front differential vs. manual locking front differential in the context of more difficult riding such as rock crawling

Cub Cadet Challenger 700 Reviews

Cub Cadet Challenger 700

Cub Cadet Challenger 700

Cub Cadet introduced their Challenger UTV line in early 2015 with the Challenger 500 and Challenger 700 models. The models are similar with the main difference being a larger sized engine in the 700, 686cc vs. 471cc. The models are positioned as offering excellent value for the price with a host of standard features including a hard-top roof, quick-release windshield, winch with remote, alloy wheels and digital display. The MSRP for the Challenger 500 is $8,499 (see model specs) and the Challenger 700 is $9,499. SVR interviewed the Marketing Director and discussed at length the new Challenger line and future development plans.

I found fewer reviews for the Challenger 700 but did find an expert review from UTV Action. The had tested the Challenger 500 at Moab’s Rally on the Rocks. Some of the key takeaways from their test drive:

  • The Challenger 700 can reach speeds up to around 60 mph in high gear and above 40 mph in low gear but can take time to reach those speeds.
  • The transmission and 4WD worked well with quick engagement and smooth operation.
  • It corners well in 2WD but steering gets heavier in 4WD without EPS. The relatively short wheelbase and torsion bars are good for tight trails.
  • The relatively low 7.3″ of suspension travel limits it ability on more challenging terrain but it handles typical trail obstacles satisfactorily.
  • “Excellent in rocks and good in mud”
  • Very strong brakes for steeper terrain.
  • Good ergonomics in the cockpit and nice creature comforts.

Overall, they seemed to have pushed the Challenger 700 hard and came away with a positive impression for the vehicle.

There was limited user generated reviews but I did find some comments on a UTV forum.

  • Overall the two users seemed satisfied with the Challenger 700.
  • A-arms needed to be greased upon first purchasing.
  • Exhaust valves needed to be adjusted.
  • Top speed of 55 mph reported.
  • The hitch is “quirky” because of existing pin hole placement.

If you are looking to purchase this model please note that Cub Cadet recalled some of these vehicles in early 2016 because of an issue with the parking brake cable failing.

If you have had any experience using this vehicle, please leave a comment below.

GPS Industries Reports Strong Start For Telematics In 2015

One of the Visage system's screen views. GPS Industries has partnered with Club Car to provide the Visage system for fleet management and content delivery.

One of the Visage system’s screen views. GPS Industries has partnered with Club Car to provide the Visage system for fleet management and content delivery.

GPS Industries reports that they have signed more than 100 installation contracts to date to provide telematics and fleet tracking technology. Properties now using the technology include The Phoenician (AZ), Turnberry Isle Resort (FL), Omni Interlocken (CO) and Journey at Pechanga (CA).

GPSI has an exclusive partnership with Club Car whose Connected Precedent i3 golf car showcases the Visage Mobile Golf Information System and recently-launched Visage Media Network. The mixture of technology and software allows properties from golf courses to master-planned communities to track, control and deliver promotional content.

According to GPSI, “The Visage system offers hole-by-hole graphics and flyovers, scoring and gaming, on-course food and beverage ordering, and addressable promotional messages on high-resolution 10-inch touch screens mounted to Club Car Precedent golf cars. Featuring in excess of 75 million-plus page views monthly, the Visage Media Network represents the largest connected global audience of golfers.” The company is also working on new applications to leverage the platform for social media and user generated content.

The appeal for golf courses and the like is that they can reduce costs through better fleet management, increase revenues from food service and promotions and provide a better experience for their customers. Learn more:  GIuser.com

Polaris Reports 2014 Q4 Earnings

The new four passenger RZR 4 EPS in Havasu Red Pearl from Polaris.

A constant stream of new models like the new four passenger RZR 4 EPS in Havasu Red Pearl help keep Polaris growing.

Polaris continued on the path of strong growth with another record quarter. Managment reported net income was $135.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2014, up 25 percent from the previous fourth quarters net income of $108.7 million. Sales for the fourth quarter of 2014 totaled a record $1,275.0 million, an increase of 18 percent over last years fourth quarter sales of $1,083.7 million.

For the full year ended December 31, 2014, Polaris reported net income from continuing operations of $454.0 million for the full year 2014, up 19 percent from the previous years net income from continuing operations of $381.1 million. Sales for the full year 2014 totaled a record $4,479.6 million, an increase of 19 percent compared to sales of $3,777.1 million for the full year 2013. Some of the highlights related to small, task-oriented vehicles follow.

  • Off-Road Vehicle sales , which includes ATVs and UTVs or side-by-sides, increased 19% from the fourth quarter 2013 to $781.5 million. This increase reflects continued market share gains on strong demand for both ATVs and side-by-sides.
  • Polaris North American ORV unit retail sales were up low-double digits percent from the 2013 fourth quarter with consumer purchases of side-by-side vehicles up double-digits percent and ATV retail sales up high-single digits percent for the 2014 fourth quarter.
  • Polaris introduced over twenty new MY14.5 and MY15 ORV models in 2014, including the all-new RZR® XP 900 trail and RZR® XP4 900 trail, several new value models, and two models in a newly defined category of single-seat, ride-in ATVs, the Polaris ACE.
  • Polaris extended their market share lead in the North American ATV industry for the fourth straight year with retails up mid-single digits in an industry that only rose slightly.
  • ACE sales accelerated notably in the fourth quarter as marketing and the new 570 model began to impact the marketplace.
  • Four recent model year ’15 introductions include the new electronically fuel-injected RZR 170 and the new RZR 900S4, both of which have already begun to ship.
  • Commercial. Sales increased by over 80% in the fourth quarter driven by initial Ariens-Gravely supply vehicle shipments, strong national accounts growth and notably improved BRUTUS and Bobcat retail performance.
  • In the Small Vehicle division which includes GEM, Aixam and Goupil, fourth quarter revenue declined 11% due to the weak French economy afflicting both Aixam and Goupil. For the full year 2014, sales increased 28% fueled by Aixam market share gains and increased sales from both our GEM and Goupil businesses.
  • Polaris significantly outperformed in the ORV market in Europe.
  • For 2015 management expects ORV is expected to grow mid-single digits, driven by new products but offset by further implementation of RFM, their new inventory management program, and slower international demand.

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (earnings call transcript)

Comment:  Polaris continues to dominate the market, although like other manufacturers they have been hurt by slower sales in Europe and in countries like Russia. Expect more of the same in 2015 as they continue to rollout products to segment the market and cover a range of price points. They are likely to add more models for their push into the commercial segment as well.

GEM Launches New Vehicles For 2015 Model Year

The new 2015 GEM eM1400 LSV

The new 2015 GEM eM1400 LSV

The new GEM M1400, a gas versions of the GEM eM1400, is new for model year 2015.

The new GEM M1400, a gas versions of the GEM eM1400, is new for model year 2015.

Polaris’s GEM brand announced their model year 2015 lineup including LSV and gas variants of the eM 1400 utility vehicle introduced last year. Besides these additions, the lineup includes e2, e6, e4, and light-utility vehicles eL, eS, eL XD, eM1400. They can haul up to 1,450 pounds of payload and can seat two to six passengers.

The M1400 gas powered vehicle features a 31 hp, ProStar electronic fuel injected engine and a cargo payload of 1,100 lbs. The LSV version of the eM1400 is street legal and has a top speed of 35 mph. Both vehicles will begin shipping in October 2014 with an MSRP of $10,999 for the LSV version and $7,999 for the gas version. Learn more:  Automotive-business-review.com

Comment:  Polaris has made the commercial/institutional and small electric vehicle segments a strategic focus and continue to execute on that strategy similar to what they do in other markets – by frequently rolling-out new models to target specific segments or sub-segments. I was surprised when they first launched the eM1400 and specifically mentioned customers looking for a non-LSV vehicle. While this may have been true for some of the market, from SVR’s research in the large college/university/institutional market, we knew that LSV compliant vehicles were in demand as they helped address buyers safety and liability concerns, regardless of whether or not the vehicles would be used on public roads. So it is not surprising that they have quickly followed with an LSV version.

The gas version is interesting from a branding point of view since, I assume, it is the beginning of an expansion of the GEM brand which has previously only been associated with electric vehicles. By developing gas vehicles under the GEM brand, Polaris can use the same distribution/marketing channel to meet the needs of commercial/institutional buyers that require both electric and gas vehicles. This should be more effective for them than trying to sell GEMs through one channel and gas powered Rangers through another channel to the same customer. The expanded branding also allows the company to extract more value from the GEM brand, which had stagnated for a number of years before being acquired by Polaris but had potential.

Kawasaki Announces 2015 Mule PRO-FXT With Seating For Six…Or Three

The new Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT with seating configured for three with additional room for cargo.

The new Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT with seating configured for three with additional room for cargo.

The Mule PRO-FXT Camo model configured for six passengers.

The Mule PRO-FXT Camo model configured for six passengers.

The 2015 Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT's tilt cargo bed in action. Notice the rear seats are folded up and pushed forward to provide more cargo space.

The 2015 Kawasaki Mule PRO-FXT’s tilt cargo bed in action. 

Kawasaki recently announced their newest Mule utility vehicle, the PRO-FXT which can seat six or three with an additional 20″ of cargo space using their configurable Trans Cab seating. The Mule PRO-FXT comes in four models:  non-electronic power steering version, EPS, EPS LE and Camo. The vehicle lineup features a new 812cc three-cylinder fuel injected engine which produces 48 ft-lbs of torque and is matched with a continuously variable transmission. Other key features include:

  • Electrically selectable 2WD/4WD system that has a dual-mode rear differential
  • CVT with engine braking
  • 1,000 lb hauling capacity
  • 2,000 lb towing capacity
  • Digital fuel injection
  • 10.2 inches of ground clearance and 8.7 inches of suspension travel
  • Short wheelbase and overall length
  • LCD instrument cluster
  • Four automotive style doors
  • Three-point harnesses for each passenger
  • High output alternator and multiple 12 volt outlets
  • Tilt-steering on most models

The MSRPs for the product lineup are $12,999 for the base model, $13,999 for the EPS, and $15,999 for the EPS LE and the Camo versions.  Learn more:  UTVunderground.com

Comment:  While a lot of attention has been paid to the competition in the sport UTV segment, the work UTV segment is heating up as well. This is the second 2015 model year vehicle to feature six passenger seating, the other being the Yamaha Viking VI. We are also seeing a continued emphasis on versatility, more horsepower, auxiliary power and an extensive lineup of accessories. While the sport UTV segment maybe the glamour segment, the work UTV segment offers some growth opportunities for companies as more potential customers realize the versatility and productivity of work UTVs. If they make sense from a cost benefit point of view than the market will respond. It also helps that one of the booming areas of the economy is the energy sector which requires off-road access and the ability to move work crews around. Kawasaki, Yamaha and Polaris are all making pointed efforts to expand their presence in the work utility segment.

Polaris Announces GEM 2014 Models

New 2014 GEM Utility Vehicle

Polaris recently announced their new model line-up for GEM for 2014. The product line includes the e2, e4, e6 for transport and the eS, eL, eL XD for light utility vehicles. A 7.0 hp motor is standard in the all electric vehicle line-up and the vehicles also feature a new rear drum brake system. Other changes to the product line include:

  • New, more comfortable seating
  • Standard scuff guards and charge cords for all vehicles
  • New available options including hard doors with locks, sliding windows and improved hinges and seals are available for two and four person vehicles.
  • Simplified color choices
  • Newly designed hood
  • Mud guards
  • New headlight bezel

Learn more:  www.GEMcar.com