Discovery Energy To Be e-Ride’s Battery Supplier

Discovery Energy of Vancouver has been named the exclusive supplier of batteries to LSV manufacturer e-Ride Industries. Discover Energy’s Clean and Green EV Traction Dry Cell Batteries will be used in the vehicles. The batteries are non-hazardous and maintenance free. For the transportation market e-Ride offers the exv4 and for the utility market the exv2. Learn more:

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:

Oklahoma LSV Tax Credit Update

Yesterday a county judge in Oklahoma ruled in favor of vehicle purchasers, declaring that they could receive the state tax credit for the LSVs that they purchased.  The lawsuit was brought by Ada Electric Cars and H20 Sports Unlimited and other dealers joined as well including GKU Electric Vehicles LLC, Heartland Outdoors LLC, Pat’s Archery Inc., and Xtreme Cycle and ATV LLC.

The judge’s order states low-speed vehicles sold by manufacturers Tomberlin, Ruff & Tuff, Stealth, Fairplay and Bad Boy Buggie qualify for a state tax credit.  The order also includes, “any other low speed vehicles similarly equipped as those described above qualify for … ‘ the state tax credit. Specific models noted in the order include Tomberlin E-Merge E-2, Tomberlin E-Merge E-4, Tomberlin Anvil, Tomberlin E-Merge Classic, Ruff & Tuff NEV2, Ruff & Tuff NEV4, Ruff & Tuff Cruiser EV2, Ruff & Tuff Cruiser LX2, Ruff & Tuff Cruiser LX4, Ruff & Tuff Hunter 4×4, Stealth Patriot LSV, Stealth Patriot LSV 4 X 4, Fairplay EVE, Fairplay Goat and Bad Boy Buggie XT LSV.

The Oklahoma State Tax Commission responded to the announcement by stating that it would appeal the ruling.  The commission stated that the tax credits could cost the state more $40 million.  If this is true, at the high end an average tax credit of $8,000 per vehicle translates into 5,000 vehicles sold in the state and at the low end an average tax credit $4,000 per vehicle translates into 10,000 vehicles sold in the state. In either case the figures represent an enormous boost to the LSV market. – Marc Cesare

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Electric Utility Vehicles Showing Strong Growth

Despite the economic downturn the market for off-road electric utility vehicles, especially for hunters, is experiencing strong growth.  A recent story about Stealth Manufacturing reports that in 2008 the company sold 600 vehicles, five times the sales management expected.  Demand has continued to be strong in 2009 with management reporting that their

..entire production is sold out through Dec. 31.  We’ve outrun virtually every supplier we have.

Part of the growth of the Louisiana based company is attributed to their television sponsorship program with Primos Hunting Products. Stealth produces the Predator XR, Apache XR and the “Izzy” an industrial vehicle.  They are also planning to launch the Patriot LSV which went into production last week.  The company employs 38 people in a 82,000 square foot facility and is looking to expand their distribution beyond the current 70 dealers and distributors in 28 states. On the horizon is a new vehicle about which the CEO Bill Krutzer states

It’s probably going to change the complexion of the electric vehicle industry, and we’re testing it right now.  It’s a completely different electrical platform. We’re going to bring some pretty sophisticated technology to the game, and we’re not going to do anything but improve the price.

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Stealth Manufacturing is not the only electric utility vehicle manufacturer with a positive outlook.  The leader in the electric utility vehicle market for hunters,  Bad Boy Buggies, is expected to reach sales of $17 million this year, up from 2008, but down from a peak in 2007 of $20 million.  Despite a recent recall of their standard model the company is reports that their new XT model has been well received. They are also launching an LSV model and have had success selling their utility vehicles outside the hunting market.  A key marketing effort for them is teaming up with Bass Pro Shops which is running a test campaign in five markets.

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk with Eric Burns of Bad Boy Buggies. He talked about some of their improvements in their new XT model which at the time had a waiting list of customers.  The improvements include:

  • An independent suspension for better performance and comfort in extreme conditions and/or extended operating times
  • Better turning radius
  • Re-routing of electrical cables to protect them from the elements
  • Improved distribution of battery weight that impacts performance on  steep climbs
  • General improvements to the construction and design of the vehicle

Some of the non-hunting markets they are looking for gains in include agriculture such as dairy farms, government fleets and construction.  Burns noted that in some of these environments the electric utility vehicle allows an operator to more easily hear other vehicles in the work area, use walkie talkies or other communication devices without turning off the engine and avoid the necessity of storing fuel on site.  Key obstacles for electric utility buyers are battery replacement costs and the range of the vehicle, which in many instances may be a perceived issue rather than actual. Bad Boy Buggies is looking to expand their distribution network in the Western US from their current strongholds in the South, Southwest and Midwest, usually centered around hunting communities.

Additional signs of strength in the electric utility vehicle market include the recent entry of Polaris, the utility vehicle market leader, and Tomberlin’s plans to launch their electric utility vehicle, the Vanish.

On a related note, the fact that both Stealth and Bad Boy Buggies are coming out with LSV versions indicates an interesting sub-segment is developing in the LSV market.  Rather than vehicles that are primarily or exclusively used on-road, another segment of users that need a mix of off-road/rough terrain capabilities and public road access is emerging.  Burns of Bad Boy Buggies noted military bases, farms and college campuses as potential buyers of these street legal UTVs. – Marc Cesare

Bannon Automotive To Manufacture Reva EV In Upstate New York

Reva NXR EV To Be Produced In Upstate New York

Reva NXR EV To Be Produced In Upstate New York

Bannon Automotive of Freeport, NY has announced plans to manufacture the Reva Electric Car Company’s NXR electric vehicle in Onondaga County in upstate New York. The Governor of New York reported that assembly of the vehicles would take place in Clay in an existing 150,000 square foot building.  Targeted for metropolitan markets as a city car, the two-seat Reva NXR will have a top speed of 50-55 mph, a range of 50 miles and be priced at $17,000. A four passenger hatchback version will sell for between $20,000 and $25,000.  The plan is to have the vehicle on the market in the third quarter of 2010.

To start, the company will import the vehicle parts from India and assemble them in the US.  Eventually, management expects to identify US suppliers and source 80 to 90 percent of the vehicle.  The state is providing $3 million grant and $3.76 million in wage and tax credits, and federal loans and guarantees of $52 million are expected as well.  Initially the plant will employ 100 people and up to 250 if maximum annual plant production of 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles is reached.  Learn more:

CT&T Reports $400M In Orders For 38,000 EVs

At the Tokyo Motor Show last week South Korea based CT&T announced orders and distribution agreements worth $400 million for 38,000 of its e-Zone EVs.  The e-Zone is configured as an LSV for the US market but can have a top speed of 44 mph. The vehicle’s range is 41 and 68 miles with the lead-acid and lithium in battery packs respectively.

The vehicles are expected to begin shipping next month with 27,000 bound for the US.  Another 5,000 are headed for Canada, 4,000 for Japan and 2,000 for Taiwan.  This production volume is expected to be fulfilled at the end of first quarter 2010.  The vehicles will be delivered as complete units until CT&T’s Regional Assembly and Sales Systems(RAS) are developed.  The company is currently looking in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas to locate two such regional assembly and distribution centers.  Learn more:

LSVs Take It On the Chin Again

Recent articles from the Wall Street Journal and ABC News have characterized the EESA federal tax credit for LSVs as a stimulus or bailout for golf cars.  The term “golf car” or “golf cart” is used in the headlines in both the stories, and not for the purposes of flattery.  This is another reminder of an image problem that the LSV industry has – that their product is often seen as only a glorified golf car.

I believe this image makes it more difficult for the industry to obtain governmental support at federal, state or local levels, whether for tax credits, financial assistance for manufacturers or road use ordinances.  In addition, it obscures the very real differences in value between LSVs and golf cars that are reflected in their respective prices. – Marc Cesare

Lightning Motors Set To Enter Small Electric Vehicle Markets

Lightning Motors founded by Richard Hatfield and a small group of associates from Silicon Valley announced their entry into the electric motorcycle market by producing the fastest production electric motorcycle in the world.  The pre-production prototype achieved a top speed of 267.776 kph (166.388 mph) during the SCTA World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats.   The company has prototypes for a less powerful motorcycle, a motor scooter, an ATV/UTV and other sport and utility vehicles in its pre production development program.  Learn more:

Wheego Announces LSV To Full Speed Vehicle Trade Up Program

Last week Wheego Electric Cars announced their trade-up program that will allow customers to trade up their Wheego Whip LSV for Wheego’s Full Speed Vehicle (FSV) that is expected to launch in 2010.

Anytime within 24 months of their purchase of the Wheego LSV, a customer may trade up their Wheego LSV for a full speed Wheego (when available) and receive a trade-up credit of 50% of the original purchase price of their LSV toward the purchase of a full speed Wheego.

Any Federal or State tax credits that the customer received on their purchase of the LSV or on a new full speed car are theirs to keep and are not deducted from the trade-up value.

If the company can meet their price points for the FSV, the cost of the vehicle becomes quite attractive with the currently available federal tax credits.  The company provided the following trade up example.

Example (for illustration only; prices may vary):
Customer purchase price of Wheego LSV: $22,000
Fed Tax Credit: -$7,500
Net customer price for LSV: $14,500

Customer sample purchase price of Full Speed: $30,000
Wheego LSV Trade-up allowance: -$11,000
Fed Tax Credit: -$ 7,500
Net customer price for Full Speed Wheego: $11,500

As you can see in the example, a customer would end up spending more for the LSV than the FSV. The total cost to obtain the FSV in this example is $26,000, which is quite attractive for a full speed electric vehicle, and you get the use of an LSV for awhile. – Marc Cesare Learn more:

CPSC Announces Proposed Rules For Recreational Off-Road Vehicles

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to address safety hazards associated with Recreational Off-road Vehicles (ROVs).

CPSC staff’s preliminary evaluations indicated that the vehicles may exhibit inadequate lateral stability, undesirable steering characteristics, and inadequate occupant protection during a rollover crash.

The review of ROVs, sometimes called utility vehicles or side by sides, by the CPSC was initiated by numerous incidents related to the Yamaha Rhino including a number of deaths. (CPSC distinguishes between ROVs and utility vehicles with the former operating at speeds over 30 mph and the latter under 30 mph) The CPSC conducted tests from November 2008 to January 2009.

The ROV manufactuers, through the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA), proposed their own standard in December 2008 but this was rejected by the CPSC, as they found preliminarily…

Based on the continuing deaths and injuries involving ROVs and a review of the draft requirements currently proposed by the ROHVA, CPSC staff believes that the proposed voluntary standard will not adequately address the deaths and injuries associated with ROV rollovers and collisions. Additionally, there are many safety features or characteristics that can be incorporated on ROVs to make them more stable and safer to use.

The CPSC identified three key areas of ROV design that impact safety:  static stability factor (SSF),  vehicle handling and occupant  retention and protection.  One change the CPSC has talked about with the ROHVA is having vehicles meet a specific SSF value.  Learn more:

CPSC Memorandum