What’s Cooking On The STOV

Highlighting some of the many applications for small, task-oriented vehicles

Border Patrol: A sheriff’s office in Maine recently used a Department of Homeland Security grant to purchase a Yamaha Rhino to patrol the border with Canada. The vehicle is used to monitor remote border entrances for illegal drug trafficking and other activity and replaces the use of ATVs. The latter required officers to travel in pairs for safety reasons since the vehicles were not as stable. The grant is part of Homeland Security’s Stonegarden Operation which is sending $60 million to local law enforcement in border states to supplement federal border protection efforts. The funds are for both equipment and payroll. Learn more: Morningsentinel.mainetoday.com

NEV Tourist Rentals: An Austin, TX entrepreneur has recently launched E-Cars of Austin to provide NEVs around the city for tourists to rent. The rental fleet currently consists of six GEMs that will be placed in various downtown locations and will be available to rent for $30 for one hour or $50 for two hours. The plan is to eventually have two vehicles at each of 10 downtown hotels. Learn more: AustinBusinessJournal

Meter Reading: Silver City, NM has purchased two LSV utility trucks from Miles Electric Vehicles for use by the town’s meter readers.  The meter readers travel around 24,000 miles each year.  Town officials expect to save on maintenance and operating costs over the years compared to the current vehicles being used.  Learn more:  Silver City Sun News

ZENN Reports Sharp Drop In Vehicle Sales

In the third quarter ending June 30, 2009 ZENN Motor Co. reported selling just 19 vehicles compared to 67 for Q3 2008.  This is slightly more than the previous quarter when only 16 vehicles were sold compared to 54 the prior year.  In the first half of 2009 ZENN has now sold a total of 35 vehicles compared to 121 in the first half of 2008.  This a decrease in unit sales of 86 or 71% from the prior year.  The management points to the decline in the overall economy as well as lower fuel prices as key factors in the decline.  Learn more:  Reuters.com

Long Drive Solar Looking To Supply LSVs To Atlanta Area Developments

Long Drive Solar a marketer of solar-powered LSVs from Cruise Cars is in talks with the Jacoby Group to provide the vehicles for two of Jacoby’s real estate development projects.  One project is the Atlantic Station in midtown Atlanta and the other is the Aerotropolis Atlanta near the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  The deal would involve potentially hundreds of vehicle according to the companies.  The Jacoby Group is considering offering vehicles as an incentive for those purchasing condos in the developments.  Long Drive Solar’s management also stated that they are “…in negotiations to supply about 3,000 solar LSVs to a nonprofit in Oklahoma.”  Learn more:  Atlanta Business Chronicle

Wheego Electric Cars Raises An Additional $1.2 Million

Wheego Electric Cars, maker of the Wheego Whip, recently announced that the company had raised an additional $1.2 million from existing investors.  The Whip is expected to be available next month as a low speed vehicle or medium speed vehicle.  Next year, after crash testing is completed, the company hopes to sell the Whip as a full speed vehicle.  Management expects to sell 1,000 of the LSV/MSV version in the first year as they build up their dealership network to 50 dealers.  The vehicle has an MSRP of $18,500 but is also eligible for federal tax credits.  Learn more:  Atlanta Business Chronicle

Comment: Selling 1,000 of these vehicles in the first year appears to be ambitious given the economy and currently lower gas prices.  ZENN recently announced a sharp decrease in sales of their LSV which has a similar price point.  In addition, interviews I’ve conducted with electric vehicle dealers for an upcoming study also indicate a poor sales environment. MC

SolarMotion Laboratories Partners With Southwest Section PGA

Arizona based SolarMotion Laboratories has become a Technology Sponsor  of the Southwest Section PGA.  The company makes solar powered golf car roofs that are compatible with golf cars from the three leading manufacturers, E-Z-Go, Club Car and Yamaha.  SolarMotion plans to launch their product in the next two months and the solar roofs will come with a four year warrantee.  According to management, the company has partnered with Standard Renewable Energy and Kyocera Solar. Learn more:  Russellchrist.wordpress.com

Golf Car Use In Small Towns Increasing?

A recent story from Courtland, Kansas highlights the use of golf cars in small towns.  While not legal until the Kansas legislature passed a law earlier this year allowing for local ordinances, local law enforcement often looked the other way as the vehicles proved popular and practical.  Gas prices and  a clear set of rules have helped increase their usage.  The state law also covers utility vehicles and mini-trucks.  This story may be indicative of increasing usage in other states and municipalities that have passed similar ordinances in the past few years.  Learn more:  Salina.com

Modec & Navistar Forming A Joint Venture

Modec and Navistar recently announced that they will soon finalize a joint venture that will produce class 2c-3 commercial trucks.  The trucks will have the Navistar brand and will be assembled in Indiana.  Navistar recently won a $39.2 million grant from the US government’s Recovery Act funds targeting battery technology and electric vehicles.  The grant will be used by the joint venture to develop 400 electric commercial trucks in 2010 with a range of 100 miles.  In the following years the JV is expected to produce thousands of vehicles annually.  Modec currently sells electric trucks to companies such as Fedex, UPS and supermarket chains.  Learn more:  Autogreenmag.com

CT&T Announces Manufacturing & Distribution Approach To US Market

CT&T, manufacturer of the eZone NEV, recently announced their Regional Assembly and Sales System (RASS) approach for selling electric vehicles in the US.  RASS will utilize multiple assembly plants, each located near key electric vehicle markets.  Vehicles will be  assembled using parts sourced by CT&T.  Retail networks will be developed by each RASS for their designated region.  Each RASS is expected to cost between $8-$10 million to create according to management.  Learn more:  www.prweb.com

Comment: BG Automotive has also talked about building multiple assembly plants near key markets but has not mentioned separate retail networks as well. They are also still looking for funding to carry this out. – mc

Wheego Eyes Shuttered Car Dealerships

According to reports the LSV manufacturer Wheego is looking at some of the recently closed car dealerships as an opportunity to build their distribution.

Wheego considers its cars the perfect product for these dealerships to preserve local employment and keep local economies from falling into further trouble.

As the story notes the dealerships may be too large for Wheego’s limited product line and some may be located in communities that do not allow LSVs.  Learn more:  Tech.blorge.com

CT & T Partners With Electric Vehicle Technology Manufacturers

CT & T recently announced a joint venture with PUES Corporation and E-1 Technology.  The joint venture is focused on bringing in-wheel direct drive motors and rapid charging technologies into the market.  PUES and E-1 have already been working together towards commercializing the PUES technology.  According to the report,

Electric vehicles with in-wheel motors are lighter weight (27 percent less than conventional motors), offer improved energy efficiency (by as much as 95 percent), better performance (doubled driving distance range) and increased power (from 2.5kw to 25kw).

CT & T produces the eZone NEV and has plans to offer a full range of electric vehicles from city cars to buses.  The company is currently finalizing sites in the US for a North American headquarters, research center and manufacturing facilities.  Learn more:  www.swampfox.ws