Caterpillar Adds 5-Seat UTVs

Caterpillar CUV105 D

The 5-passenger diesel powered CUV105D is a new addition to the Caterpillar UTV lineup.

Caterpillar’s new 5-passenger CUV85 is gas powered.

Caterpillar recently expanded their utility vehicle lineup with the 5-seat CUV85 and CUV105 D models in order to add a crew-sized offering. The CUV85 is gas powered and the CUV105 D is diesel powered because of the need to meet the diverse fuel options of their target market. The expansion is a follow up to their entry into the UTV market earlier in 2018 with the CUV82 and CUV102 D two-person models. As a result, the lineup now includes four models. Textron is manufacturing the new models under a partnership agreement with Caterpillar.

Key Caterpillar UTV Features

The two latest models have a 1,000 lbs rear cargo bed capacity and can tow up to 2,000 lbs in order to meet the rigors of heavy duty work applications. The CUV85 features a 50 hp, 3-cylinder gas engine with a 45 mph top speed. In contrast, the CUV105 D is powered by a 25 hp, 3-cyclinder diesel engine and has a 25 mph top speed. The CUV85 comes with quarter doors, probably due to the higher vehicle speed. Common features across both models include:

  • 5-passenger capacity
  • 2WD/4WD/Electric Rear Locking Differential
  • CVT transmission
  • 10.5″ of ground clearance
  • Four-wheel independent A-arm suspension with front sway bar
  • Electric assist power steering
  • Single and dual piston disc brakes
  • ROPS
  • 25″ tires on steel wheels
  • Steel cargo bed
  • Digital gauge
  • Halogen headlights
  • Dual LED taillights
  • Adjustable tilt steering
  • Adjustable driver’s seat

Additional Features

Furthermore, Caterpillar marketing material points to specifc features designed for work use including a steel cargo bed, smooth acceleration, clear sight lines and engine braking. Additional features in order to produce quiet and comfortable operation include a design to minimize noise and vibration, ample head, elbow and leg room, and removable passenger seat base. Likewise easy access points facilitates maintenance and advanced diagnostics reduce troubleshooting time.

Learn more:  Constructionequipment.com

SVR’s Take:  Similar to other manufacturers, Caterpillar has expanded their product line with the addition of crew-sized models. In contrast to some models on the market, these are pretty basic vehicles but with solid features which are appropriate for the work applications they are targeting. If Caterpillar is successful with this lineup they will likely continue to introduce new models.

Can-Am Market Share Increases

2019 Can-Am Defender HD8

New models like the 2019 Can-Am Defender HD8 help increase Can-Am market share.

Can Am Defender Max

Can Am Defender Max

BRP Reports Strong Fiscal Q2 Earnings  

BRP Inc., manufacturer of Can-Am vehicles announced strong earnings for their fiscal second quarter (ending July 31, 2018) and improved Can-Am market share for their side-by-side business. Management reported an increase in revenue of 18% to $1,207 million from $1,023 million (In Canadian $) as well as increased profit margins.

Ahead of Strategic Plan 

Since implementing their strategic plan in 2015 Can-Am has steadily made inroads in the side-by-side market. Management set the goal of doubling Can-Am market share for the North American side-by-side market from approximately 10% to 20% by 2020. They are on track to reach that goal in 2019 instead of the original 2020 target year.

Recent Can-Am UTV Launches Source: Can-Am Presentation 9/10/2018

Product Development Drives Can-Am Market Share Success

The company drove this rapid growth by launching a host of new models to maintain competitiveness in existing market segments or to enter new segments. They typically launch new models every six months. The Defender lineup of UTVs is an example of entering new segments. The Defender not only attacked the work/utility segment where Can-Am needed a presence, but opened up under represented geographic markets. The company reports US side-by-side dealer network coverage increased over 50% over four years. They also added trail and sport models for the recreational segment while continuing to produce competitive high-end performance side-by-sides as well.

Can-Am Emerges as Main Polaris Competitor

While still far from the market share of market leader Polaris, Can-Am has established itself as the main competitor to Polaris, outpacing the likes of Yamaha, Honda, John Deere and others. This applies to not only to the side-by-side market but in other product segments as well including ATVs, 3-wheelers and snowmobiles. Both companies have also entered the boating market with recent acquisitions. (BRP; Polaris) Can-Am is one of the few side-by-side manufacturers that comes close to the breadth of models that Polaris offers across all the market sub-segments. Management’s intentions are to continue to build out their product lineup.

Earnings Call Highlights

The following are highlights from the earnings call and presentation. Unless noted comparisons are to the same quarter of the previous year.

  • Revenues were up in North America (NA) and all intl markets
  • NA retail sales for Seasonal and Year-round business segments increased 16%
  • All product segments are outgrowing respective industries
  • Year Round business which includes SxS, ATV and Spyder products increased by 26% from $440.4 to $554.0
  • NA side-by-side retail jumped low 30% vs. low teen % for industry for the quarter
  • NA 2018 SSV industry up high single digits percent for recently ended model year while Can-Am jumped mid 30%
  • Management reports gaining over 2.5% in market share in NA side-by-side market for the 2018 season
  • Can-Am SxS up 25% in all  international markets:  Europe/Middle East, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
  • Management states:  “We are seeing solid growth across the lineup, and the popularity of our specialized models such as the Defender LONE STAR, the Maverick X3 rock crawler and our mud-ready Maverick X3 and Defender is helping us deliver superior profitability for us and our dealers.
  • Management increased guidance for Year Round business to up 18-21% from previously guided 12-15%
  • Can-Am has more than doubled their side-by-side retail volume since 2015 with 6 new platform introduced over the past 3 years and on target to reach 2020 goals one year in advance
  • Room to grow in the Defender side-by-side segment
  • Some cost pressures from commodity prices and freight costs

Learn more:  Earnings Call Transcript

Polaris Recalls RZR XP Turbo S UTVs

RZR XP Turbo S

Polaris is recalling RZR XP Turbo S models due to an issue with the ROPS.

Polaris is recalling 2018 RZR XP Turbo S UTVs because the rollover protection structure can fracture during a high-speed rollover. The recall involved approximately 1,300 vehicles. Owners reported six instances of the ROPS fracturing. Owner should immediately stop using the vehicles and contact a Polaris dealer for a free repair.

SVR’s Take:  The recall is relatively small compared to typical recalls, and considering the number of vehicles Polaris sells. However, this is the first time I remember an issue with a ROPS structure for any manufacturer. In addition, Polaris mostly likely manufactured these 2018 models under their new design and manufacturing processes implemented to produce better quality vehicles. SVR maintains a list of recent recalls of UTVs, golf cars and LSVs. The following recall information is from the Consumer Protection Safety Commission.

Name of product:  Model year 2018 RZR XP Turbo S recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs)

Hazard:  In the event of a high-speed rollover, the vehicle’s rollover protection structure (ROPS) can fracture, providing inadequate protection during a rollover.
Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  August 27, 2018
Units:  About 1,300
Consumer Contact:  Polaris at 800-765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off Road Safety Recalls” for more information. In addition, check your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the “Product Safety Recalls” page to see if your vehicle is included in any recalls.

RZR XP Turbo S Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves model year 2018 RZR XP Turbo S recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) sold in red and blue. The recalled vehicles have “POLARIS” printed on the front grille, “POLARIS” printed beneath the doors, and “RZR” printed on the rear fenders. The vehicle identification number (VIN) and model number can be found on a label affixed to the vehicle frame in the left front wheel well.
Polaris Model Year 2018 RZR XP Turbo S
Year Model Number Model/Color
2018 Z18VEL92BR RZR XP TURBO S WITH RIDE CMD AND LV INDY RED
2018 Z18VEL92BK RZR XP TURBO S WITH RIDE CMD AND LV POL BLUE
Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact a Polaris dealer to schedule a free repair. Polaris is contacting all registered owners directly.
Incidents/Injuries:  Polaris has received six reports of rollover protection structures fracturing during rollovers. Polaris has received one report of an injury but does not attribute it to ROPS fractures.
Sold At:  Polaris dealers nationwide from January 2018 through August 2018 for about $27,500.
Manufacturer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn
Importer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn
Manufactured In:  Mexico
Recall number:  18-762

American Landmaster Recalls UTVs

LandMaster Crossroad

American Landmaster is recalling Crossroad UTVs because of a potential gas leak.

Landmaster Landstar utility vehicle

Landstar models are part of the recall.

Landmaster Trailwagon models are also part of the recall.

American Landmaster has recalled approximately 1,500 model year 2018 UTVs including Landstar, Crossroad and Trailwagon models due to a potential gas leak from the vehicle’s gas tank which can potentially create a fire and burn hazard. Owners have not reported any injuries related to this recall. Owners should immediately stop using the vehicles and contact their American Landmaster for a free repair. The recall information below is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. SVR maintains an ongoing list of recalls related to utility vehicles, golf cars and LSVs with links to detailed recall information.

Name of product:  Off-road utility vehicles
Hazard:  Gas can leak from the utility vehicle’s gas tank, posing fire and burn hazards.
Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  August 23, 2018
Units:  About 1,500
Consumer Contact:  American Landmaster at 800-643-7332 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email at recall@AmericanLandmaster.com or online at www.AmericanLandmaster.com and click on the “Notice to UTV Owners Important Recall Information” icon or www.AmericanLandmaster.com/recall for more information.

American LandMaster Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves model year 2018 gasoline-powered Landstar, Crossroad and Trailwagon models of American Landmaster four-wheel off-road utility vehicles. The recalled vehicles were sold in a variety of colors. The model name and number are printed on the hood of each front fender. The American Landmaster logo is printed on the center of the hood of the vehicle. The VIN is located behind the pedals and below the steering wheel.

Model Number

VIN range start

VIN range end

CR350, LS350, LS350DL

A4PUTYFB1JBA00023

A4PUTYFB9JBA00304

A4PUTYFB1JBA00751

A4PUTYFB7JBA00754

LS450

A4PUTYJC4JBA00422

A4PUTYJC6JBA00499

A4PUTYJC3JBA00749

A4PUTYJCXJBA01512

TW450

A4PUTYJCXJBA00358

A4PUTYJC0JBA00496

A4PUTYJC2JBA00760

A4PUTYJC2JBA01147

TW750

A4PUTYPD0JBA00014

A4PUTYPD8JBB00149

LS477

A4PUVTKD7JBB00003

A4PUVTKD9JBB00049

LS550

A4PUTVKD9JBA00003

A4PUTVKD9JBA00308

LS670, 677EFI, 677EPS

A4PUTYPD6JBB00005

A4PUTYPD7JBB00224

Crew2, Crew4, Crew4X

A4PUFYPD0JBA00005

A4PUFYPD5JBA00078

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact American Landmaster for a free repair.
Incidents/Injuries:  None reported
Sold At:  Atwood Distributing, Tractor Supply Company, Orscheln Farm and Home stores and other distributors nationwide from January 2018 through July 2018 for between $4,300 and $10,300.
Manufacturer(s):  ASW, LLC d/b/a American Landmaster, of Columbia City, Ind.
Manufactured In:  U.S.
Recall number:  18-207

Polaris Recalls Gravely Atlas UTVs

Name of product:  Gravely Atlas JSV 3000 and 6000 utility vehicles
Hazard:  The utility vehicle’s exhaust header pipe can crack, posing fire and burn hazards.
Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  August 8, 2018
Units:  About 2,100
Consumer Contact:  Gravely at 877-740-7060 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.gravely.com and click on the Product Support link at the bottom of the page, then select Product Safety Recall in the menu on the left of the page for more information.

Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves all model year 2015 through 2018 Gravely Atlas JSV 3000 and 6000 gas-engine-powered utility vehicles. The recalled utility vehicles were sold in red and have one or two rows of seats and a rear box. “Gravely” is printed on the rear box, and “Atlas” is printed on the hood of the utility vehicle. The model and serial number can be found on the driver’s side and are visible from the front wheel well. The following model numbers and serial number ranges are being recalled:

Year

Model

Serial Number Range

2015

996200 Base

150100, 150102 – 150299, 150310, 150321, 150332, 150343, 150354, 150365, 150376, 150387, 150398, 150409 – 150771, 150774 – 150803 and

150805 – 151173

996201 Crew

150100 – 150299, 150310, 150321, 150332, 150343, 150354, 150365, 150376, 150387, 150398, 150409 – 150599 and 150601 – 150641

2016

996200 Base

160100 – 160299, 160310, 160321, 160332, 160343, 160354, 160365, 160376, 160387, 160398 and 160409 – 160640

996201 Crew

160100 and 160102 – 160112

2017

996200 Base

170100 – 170256

996201 Crew

170100 – 170102 and 170108 – 170152

2018

996200 Base

180101, 180105 – 180116, 180118 – 180136, 180138 – 180149, 180151 – 180154, 180158 – 180161, 180163 – 180166, 180168 – 180170, 180172,

180174 – 180178, 180181 – 180182, 180186 – 180187, 180190, 180192, 180199, 180202, 180205 – 180206, 180209 – 180211, 180214 – 180215, 180218 and 180220 – 180222

Remedy:  Consumers should contact an authorized Gravely dealer for a free repair. If the exhaust system becomes noisier, consumers should immediately stop using the recalled utility vehicles. Gravely is contacting all known purchasers directly.
Incidents/Injuries:  Gravely has received seven reports of cracked header exhaust pipes. No injuries have been reported.
Sold At:  Gravely dealers nationwide from September 2014 through July 2018 for between $13,000 and $15,700.
Manufacturer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.
Distributor(s):  Gravely Company, of Brillion, Wis.
Manufactured In:  United States
Recall number:  18-758

Bobcat 3400 and 3400XL UTVs Recalled

Bobcat 3400 utility vehicle

The Bobcat 3400 for model years 2015 through 2018 is being recalled.

Bobcat 3400XL utility Vehicle

The Bobcat 3400XL is being recalled as well.

Last month Bobcat issued a recall of the gas powered Bobcat 3400 and 3400XL UTVs for model years 2015 through 2018. The vehicle’s exhaust header pipe can crack and create potential burn and fire hazards. Owners have not reported any injuries or fires related to this recall, which involves approximately 2,700 units. The 3400 model is a two-seater and the 3400XL is a four-seater. Polaris manufactured both models for Bobcat under a partnership the companies formed several years ago to develop UTVs for commercial markets. If you have an affected model you should contact your local Bobcat dealer. The following recall information is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Name of product:  Bobcat 3400 and 3400XL utility vehicles
Hazard:  The utility vehicle’s exhaust header pipe can crack, posing burn and fire hazards.
Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  August, 2018
Units:  About 2,700

Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves model year 2015 through 2018 Bobcat 3400 and 3400XL gas engine-equipped utility vehicles manufactured by Polaris Industries. The recalled utility vehicles are white and black with orange decals and have one or two rows of seats and a rear box. “Bobcat” is printed on the hood of the utility vehicle and “3400” or “3400XL” is printed on the rear box. The model and vehicle identification number (VIN #) can be found on a label under the seat and storage bin on the passenger side. The following models and VIN ranges are being recalled:

Year

Model

VIN Range

2015

3400 4X GAS

B3FL11001 through B3FL11911

3400 4X GAS DLX

B3FN11001 through B3FN11286

2016

3400 4X GAS

B3FL12001 through B3FL12803

3400 4X GAS DLX

B3FN12001 through B3FN12245

2017

3400 4X GAS

B3FL17001 through B3FL17580

3400 XL GAS

B3FN17001 through B3FN17124

2018

3400 4X GAS

B3FL18001 through B3FL18097

3400 XL GAS

B3FN18001 through B3FN18065

Remedy:  Consumers should contact an authorized Bobcat dealer to schedule a free repair. Bobcat is contacting all known purchasers directly.
Incidents/Injuries:  Bobcat has received seven reports of cracked exhaust pipes. No injuries or fires have been reported.
Sold At:  Bobcat dealers nationwide from August 2014 through July 2018 for between $10,000 and $15,000.
Manufacturer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.
Distributor(s):  Bobcat Company, of West Fargo, N.D.
Manufactured In:  United States
Recall number:  18-757

Polaris Reveals 2019 Model Year Side-by-Sides

Polaris Industries revealed their 2019 model year side-by-side lineup last week with improvements across a host models. In the Ranger product line Ride Command technology will now be available for select Ranger XP 1000 models as a factory-installed package. The Range XP 1000 and Ranger Crew XP 1000 models now include a 20th anniversary edition and the new High Lifter Edition.

2019 model year RZRs feature aggressive styling and performance upgrades across the product lineup. Ride Command will be available in all RZR XP 1000 colors and the RZR XP 1000 Dynamix vehicles. The trail-ready RZR S4 1000 is now powered by a 100 hp engine.

The General lineup has been updated with performance and technology upgrades, as well as new colors and graphics. The following are more specific features for select models.

2019 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition

The 2019 model year Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition with redesigned half doors and improved driveline strength.

2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition – $19,999 MSRP                                    2019 RANGER CREW XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition – 21,499 MSRP

  • Redesigned factory-installed half doors with new one-inch water drains
  • 82 hp engine
  • 11″ of suspension travel
  • 20% increase in overall driveline strength
  • New geared reverse transmission
  • 28″ Outlaw tires
  • 13.5″ of ground clearance
  • Crew version has 6-passenger capacity

2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS RIDE COMMAND – $17,999 MSRP                                    2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS NorthStar Edition RIDE COMMAND – $25,999 MSRP

  • Ride Command technology is now available as a factory-installed package
  • Seven-inch glove-touch display features built-in navigation and front and rear cameras.
  • System provides vehicle diagnostics, allows smartphone connectivity and factory-installed in-dash speakers.
  • Topographical map allows consumers to better navigate trail overlays and drop waypoints to remember key locations
  • Interactive interface gives every type of rider the freedom to stay connected while hunting, working on their ranch, or trail riding.

2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS and Ranger XP 1000 EPS NorthStar Edition models

  • Available in four new color options including Steel Blue, Pearl White, Magnetic Gray and Polaris Pursuit® Camo.
Polaris 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS 20th anniversary

The 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS 20th Anniversary edition with two-tone maroon and tan colors and embroidered seats.

2019 Ranger XP1000 EPS 20th Anniversary Limited Edition – $16,799 MSRP            2019 Ranger CREW XP 1000 EPS 20th Anniversary Limited Edition – $17,799

  • Two-tone maroon and tan color option
  • Custom embroidered seats
  • Limited production quantities
Polaris 2019 RZR S4 1000 EPS

The 2019 model year RZR S4 1000 EPS now features 100 hp.

Polaris 2019 RZR XP 1000

The 2019 RZR XP 1000 has new styling and LED lighting.

2019 RZR Xtreme Performance Lineup – Starting at $17,999 MSRP

  • Styling features a more aggressive cut with a chiseled muscular stance
  • LED accent lights
  • Brand-new LED headlights
  • Premium digital instrumentation
  • More storage
  • DYNAMIX active suspension and Ride Command technology now available on RZR XP 1000 models
  • Horsepower boost to 100 hp for the 2019 RZR S4 1000

2019 General – Starting at $16,299 MSRP

  • New colors and graphics
  • Factory-installed bronze wheels on the Ride Command edition

Learn more:  Polaris.com

Polaris Industries Reports Q2 2018 Results

2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS

New models like the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS helped drive side-by-side revenue for the quarter.

Polaris Industries reported their financial results for the second quarter of 2018. Second quarter 2018 revenue increased 10% year over year to $1.503 billion with the ORV/Snowmobile segment jumping 17% to $993 million and off-road vehicles, excluding PG&A, increased 19%. Some of the gains in ORV were because of the need to boost dealer inventory levels to match retail demand.

Earnings Call Highlights

The following are highlights from the earnings call related to the small, task-oriented vehicle market.

  • The powersports market in North America is essentially flat to up slightly with Polaris ORV flat
  • ORV retail is growing in every region of the US
  • Ag markets have not slowed down at all at this point
  • ORV/Snowmobile segment sales were up 17% in Q2
  • Improved ORV demand for side-by-sides worldwide, and availability and sale of new models accelerated during the quarter helped drive sales
  • Polaris side-by-side North American retail sales up mid-single digits driven by new products and improved oil/gas and agriculture markets
  • Average selling prices for ORV increased 3% and promotional spending per unit decreased
  • Polaris gained market share in side-by-sides and ATV for the quarter
  • Production costs are increasing due to higher logistical and commodity costs
  • ORV helped drive international growth, particularly in Europe
  • Global Adjacent Markets sales increased 17% in the second quarter to $113 million, due to growth in Commercial, Government, and Defense businesses

Guidance for Full Year 2018

  • Management increased guidance for the Global Adjacents and ORV businesses with Global Adjacents expected to be up low-double digits % for the year and ORV/Snowmobiles up high-single digits %
  • ORV sales are expected to be up high single-digits percent from international results and pricing actions and slightly higher volumes

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings call transcript)

Does Future Mobility Include LSVs?

GEM has been the market leader in LSVs for many years.

The falling cost of batteries and rise of autonomous driving technology has launched a new stage in the development of mobility technologies. These advances may be bad news for LSVs. For decades small-task oriented vehicles, and in particular by golf cars, have dominated the EV market in terms of production volume. Long before Tesla, golf car manufacturers produced hundreds of thousands of electric golf cars annually. Primarily for these vehicles were for golf courses, but for personal transportation as well. In addition, the large volume of used electric golf cars coming off of golf courses each year were finding their way into the personal transportation and utility markets. In smaller volumes they produced electric powered burden carriers and general utility vehicles for use in enclosed spaces such as factories and warehouses.

Speed and pricing hurt LSV adoption

Federal regulations in the late nineties lead to the development of Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs), originally referred to as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). The LSV classification created the opportunity to move small EVs out of gated and golf communities and relatively confined driving environments and onto public roads in large numbers. Unfortunately, for LSV manufacturers, the widespread adoption of LSVs for personal transportation has never occurred. In theory, LSVs would be a good choice as a second vehicle. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate and suitable for the short trips typical of many drivers. In practice, they are relatively expensive for their limited functionality, and to many they look like a glorified golf car.

With a 25 mph top speed, LSVs are too slow for real life driving where speeds are often 30-45 mph. Federal authorities, already concerned about LSV safety, are unwilling to compromise on safety requirements for higher speed Medium Speed Vehicles. The additional safety requirements for MSVs would make these vehicles relatively expensive compared to fully highway capable vehicles.

Pricing has always been an issue with LSVs, which typically cost around $10,000 on the low end. They find themselves competing against new, used and refurbished golf cars that can cost thousands of dollars less or comparably priced, but heavily customized golf cars. On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest priced highway capable vehicles available do not cost that much more and offer far greater functionality. As a result, the LSV market has never “taken off”. SVR’s research has shown that LSVs for personal use have only gained traction where local laws restrict the use of golf cars on public roads. The trend has been for local governments to allow more golf cars, modified golf cars and even UTVs on local roads.

Where LSV have found some success is on college and corporate campuses. In these environments the LSV safety features are worth the additional expense in the context of insurance and liability. The slower speed is another plus where administrators do not want employees speeding across pedestrian filled campus grounds. The utility LSV has proven to provide plenty of functionality and mobility in these confined environments at a reduced cost compared to pick-up trucks which they often replace. In addition, electric LSVs fit well into sustainability and green initiatives on these campuses.

Electric bikes and scooters offer an alternative

New battery and autonomous driving technologies are unlikely to change the fate of LSVs, and likely will make it worse. Batteries are becoming small enough, powerful enough and cheap enough to create new competitors to LSVs. Namely, a rash of electric bicycles and electric scooters have been entering the market. While costing thousands of dollars, electric bicycles have the potential to chip away at some of the LSV market. Have a short commute on local roads and don’t need to carry much with you. Why not use an electric bike? Need a quick way around urban areas and don’t want to worry about parking? How about an electric scooter.

There are electric bike and scooter sharing programs either already operating or in pilot programs in major cities. These options aren’t ideal in bad weather or for multiple passengers, but they can potentially reduce LSV usage. In fact, they may even provide competition to golf cars and Personal Transportation Vehicles (PTVs) within gated communities.

Autonomous vehicles take a new direction

May Mobility self-driving GEM

GEM configured by May Mobility for self-driving.

Similarly autonomous driving technology may very well reduce the potential footprint for LSVs. Google has used some LSVs for the testing of their autonomous driving technology.  You could argue from a standpoint of safety that the more controlled environment of gated communities could be a good entry point for the technology. But it appears the major players are starting with highway capable vehicles. There have been some instances of LSVs with the technology being tested for limited use scenarios such as shuttle runs. Currently, the relative expense of the autonomous driving technology compared to the cost of an LSV is likely too high. The economics favor installation on premium vehicles or rental/sharing fleets with the flexibility for high volume usage.

Nuro autonomous vehicle

This Fall Kroger will be using passengerless autonomous vehicles from startup Nuro to deliver groceries to customers.

Starship Technologies Delivery Robot

Starship Technologies is rolling out a robotic delivery service on college and corporate campuses this year.

Even in the commercial use of LSVs or their slightly faster cousins in Europe for tasks like urban delivery, autonomous driving technology may undercut the application of these vehicles. There are a number of startups developing autonomous delivery vehicles for operation on streets. However, they are passenger less or even smaller and slower for use on sidewalks. The last vestige for the LSV may remain the college or corporate campus, but even the autonomous shuttle could cut into some of that usage. We may be witnessing the highpoint for the use of LSVs right now.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

 

 

Road Use Regulation Roundup: June 2018

golf cart signThe following is a summary of some of the road use regulations for golf cars, LSVs, ATVs and UTVs that have been passed or are being considered at the state, county and city levels since January, 2018.

Some trends in this latest regulation roundup:

  • This roundup saw more legislation related to allowing LSVs on roads as opposed to golf cars and ATVs/UTVs but it is too early to tell if this represents a long term trend and reversal of previous legislative trends favoring golf cars and UTVs.
  • Of special note is legislation in California that is focusing on the development of a regional multi-city plan for LSV transportation. I believe this is the first time a regional approach has been covered in the roundup.
  • Most of the legislative activity occurred in the Midwest and Southeast.

Highland Village, TX – The City Council approved an ordinance allowing the use of NEVs, LSVs and golf cars in the city with certain restrictions.

Myrtle Beach, SC – The City Council passed an ordinance requiring businesses that rent golf cars to get $10 tags on each vehicle.

Glendale, MO – City officials passed an ordinance allowing golf cars to be used on city streets provided they have certain safety features.

Bay St. Louis & Waveland, MS – The state passed legislation that allows the use of LSVs on certain city streets.

Oxford, MS – The owner of a local LSV taxi service requested that the city lower the minimum driving age of such vehicles from 21 years old to address a driver shortage. They lowered it to 20 years old.

Audubon, IA – City Supervisors will likely pass an ordinance allowing the use of ATVs/UTVs on county roads if they have certain safety features.

Newport, RI – The City Council passed an ordinance allowing the use of electric LSVs on local roads.

SanDiego, CA – State legislation is being considered that would allow the use of LSVs on a county wide basis. The legislation, backed by North County cities, would allow for the implementation of regional LSV transportation plans.

Cincinnati, OH – The City Council passed an ordinance creating a three year pilot program for the use of LSVs in the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods.

Augusta, GA – The City Commission is considering an ordinance that will allow the use of personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) in the central business district. They would initially be used to provide prearranged tours as opposed to taxi service, and could eventually lead to PTV permits for individual owners.

Sanibel Island, FL – The City Council denied the application for the opening of a seven vehicle LSV rental business citing concerns about traffic, safety and the concept being inconsistent with city planning aimed at reducing auto ridership.