International Market Solutions (IMS) Announces New Market Study on Small, Task-Oriented Vehicles (STOVs)

>>Industry hit by recession in 2009 will make a comeback with gains through 2014

>>Low-speed vehicles, properly certified, will encourage growth of the LSV product line and the overall market for privately-owned small, electric-powered vehicles

>>New study features increased product scope to include off-road utility vehicles

International Market Solutions announces the publication of its latest report on the market for small, task-oriented vehicles (STOVs). Included in the report are golf cars, low-speed electric vehicles (LSVs and inclusive of neighborhood electric vehicles), and light and heavy duty utility vehicles. The study is the fifth in a series of studies, which have tracked the industry since 2000, and marks a significant extension of coverage to the market for off-road utility vehicles.

Small, task-oriented vehicles, all the diverse types combined, realized an end market value in vehicle sales of between $4.2-$4.6 billion in 2009, despite the recession. The outlook should see this overall market size grow to $6.5 billion. It should be noted that these dollar revenues do not include either parts and accessories, or servicing. While not a focus of the report, these additional products and services could double industry size.

The report, entitled The Small, Task-Oriented Vehicle Market in the United States–Golf Car-Type Vehicles, LSVs & Heavy Duty Utility & Off-Road Vehicles–Trends 2003-2009; Forecasts to 2014, is available in both electronic and hard copy form.

States co-author, Stephen Metzger, and IMS Director, “We have to apologize for the length of the title, but it is such because there is still a prevailing unfamiliarity with the generic concept of these small, electric, gas, and diesel-powered vehicles, specifically designed as solutions to relatively narrowly-defined tasks—whether for types of transport and work and addressing both commercial and consumer markets.”

“What we will see, and our research bears it out,” Metzger continues, “is that because of economy and relatively green operation, STOVs will progressively take over specific areas of mobile operations, replacing larger, more costly, and more polluting general purpose vehicles, which characterize the on-road automobiles and light trucks.”

Detailed data on three major market segments

The study covers three major product areas: golf car fleets, privately-owned vehicles, and utility vehicles. Detailed trend data from 2003 is compiled for the three segments and broken out by gas and electric power and new vs. used sales. Forecasts for all segments are presented to 2014 and broken out in similar fashion.

Major findings

Major findings in the study are:

  • Not surprisingly the market took a major hit beginning late 2008 and extending through 2009, but the outlook—forecasts to 2014—are generally positive with significant recovery in all major market segments;
  • Golf cars remain a staple product in both new and used vehicle markets but are the exception to overall growth in that the golf fleet market is negatively affected by the lack of growth in golf course construction;
  • Federal LSV certification, which is linked to tax credits and regulations relative to on-road use, resulted in heavy sales activity in the second half of 2009, but over and above the price breaks, lends important credibility to the product class and will have a significant positive effect on future sales;
  • STOVs continue to be upgraded, adopting automotive features and standards, such that this trend of on-going product improvement, including better enclosures and other comfort factors will be a major growth promoter in the consumer and utility vehicle markets;
  • The off-road market should recover from the 2009 setback, and, in addition, see considerably more competition from a number of established participants who are traditionally associated with other market segments;
  • Electric power should continue to increase share in all segments and see more participation even in the off-road market;
  • The study’s exclusive dealer survey found that a high percentage of customers and potential purchasers had used the internet before coming to the dealership—indicating that the internet will become a progressively more important marketing tool in the future.

In regard to the last finding, co-author Marc Cesare, who directed the dealer survey, stated, “If anything the internet, as a marketing and sales tool, is underutilized. More effective use of the internet could well broaden the sales base of the STOV industry.”

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For further information, including links to a detailed table of contents, see the STOV study web page on this blog or contact Stephen Metzger, IMS Director directly via phone (914) 293-7577 or email

EVI Announces $1.5 Million In State Grants For Vehicle Development & Job Training

Last week, Electric Vehicles International (EVI) announced grants to develop two demonstration vehicles and provide job training for new workers. Some new workers will come from the recently closed NUMMI auto plant and suppliers as EVI has an agreement with Kyoho Manufacturing California, an auto parts supplier which shutdown when NUMMI closed.  The grants total over $1.5 million with about two-thirds targeted for the development of two medium-duty pickups for Pacific Electric & Gas and the remainder for job training. EVI currently offers a medium-duty truck, a walk-in van and a light-duty utility vehicle. The company has a number of demonstration vehicles currently out in the field. Learn more:

Wheego Recalls Whip LSV For Reflector Problem

Wheego Electric Cars is recalling 308 Wheego Whip LSVs produced from January 1, 2009 to July 31, 2009 because of an issue with the vehicle’s reflectors.  The side and rear reflex reflectors may not be reflective enough to meet LSV vehicle safety standards.  Wheego will send 4 compliant refectors to dealers and owners free of charge.  The company can be contacted at (678) 904-4795.  Learn more:  NHTSA

LSV Market Shows Growth Potential

I came across a couple of stories recently that highlight the growth potential in the LSV market. One story features the market in Southern New Jersey where state and local LSV laws have paved the way for use in island communities. This represents an expansion beyond the traditional campground market which was mainly served by golf carts that have become more customized as the market developed.  As one recent LSV buyer from Ocean City remarked in the article,

“I think it’s going to be good over here. We’re in the north end and anticipate going to the beach and downtown to shop, wherever a regular vehicle is used but this should be easier because its smaller and more environmentally friendly.”

The other story highlights efforts by community planners in Southern California to use LSVs to improve air quality and reduce traffic. They see potential for households using the vehicles as a second vehicle.

In both cases the ability to drive the vehicles on public roads is key. This is one reason why golf cars for use as personal transportation are likely to be displaced in growing numbers by LSVs. The added versatility and convenience of being able to use LSVs on local roads in addition to one’s own property or a gated community will allow more and more customers to justify the higher cost of LSVs relative to golf cars. The advent of LSV compliant off-road utility vehicles will only add momentum to this trend.

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News Briefs

Wheego On GSA Schedule – Wheego Electric Cars recently announced that the irWheego Whip LSV is now on the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule 23 for LSVs. Learn more:

Ruff & Tuff Has New COO – Ruff & Tuff Electric Vehicle has named Shane Michelli as their new COO.  Learn more:

Electrovaya Adds Former GEM CEO – Electrovaya has named Bruce Coventry as Vice President of Operations.  Electrovaya is a developer and manufacturer of lithium ion battery systems for the clean transportation, smart grid power, consumer and healthcare markets. Learn more:

The Peapod Demise Explained

A recent story explains what happened to the Peapod LSV.  The vehicle, originally slated for a late 2010 launch, never made it to the launchpad,  apparently the victim of Chrysler’s bankruptcy filing and subsequent reorganization.  The old GEM business unit was dissolved and a new one created but without the Peapod.  The impetus behind the vehicle was Peter Arnell and he was closely tied with the former CEO Robert Nardelli, so when he went out the door the Peapod followed.

What is unfortunate is that the timing of the consumer targeted vehicle would have been perfect.  The vehicle would have been eligible for significant tax credits in 2010 and the consumer market for LSVs is primed for growth for a variety of reasons notwithstanding a somewhat slow economic recovery.  Learn more:  Green Car Advisor

LSV Taxi Services Meeting Resistance From Traditional Taxis

In both Tampa, FL and Austin, TX taxi services using low-speed vehicles are bumping into legal and regulatory obstacles as they encroach upon the turf of traditional taxis.  The LSV taxi services are typically offered for free in a limited downtown area but drivers may accept tips and the vehicles sell advertising space on the vehicles.  Local businesses or business associations such as hotels and tourist destinations in the service area may offer support as well.

In Tampa the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission ruled that since tips and advertising revenue were involved the taxi service must be regulated and permitted by the county agency.  This ruling coincides with a similar ruling by a circuit judge regarding the taxi service.

In Austin Capital Cruisers, already in business, and e-Cars, planning to start a taxi service, are waiting for the city council to include LSVs in the local regulations to legalize their use as taxis.  The local transportation commission had recommended such action in the beginning of the year. In the meantime, Capital Cruisers is spending money fighting frequent traffic tickets and other legal battles with the city.

In both cities the local taxi associations are trying to either stop the services from being offered, or at a minimum, have them comply with the similar regulations. Learn more:

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Update: A similar issue is occurring in Houston, TX as well with Rev Eco-Shuttle owner Erik Ibarra waiting for the city to pass ordinances and provide permits for his low speed-vehicle taxis.  Learn more:

Curtis Introduces Cab Enclosures For Polaris Rangers

Curtis Industries PathPro SS soft-side enclosure

Curtis Industries PathPro SS soft-side enclosure for Polaris Ranger UTVs

Curtis Industries recently announced their new PathPro SS soft cab system for the Polaris Ranger 2010 400 and 800 models.  Designed for year around use the soft-side cab enclosure mounts to the factory installed Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS).

The PathPro SS features a strong, low profile textured black steel roof with acoustic liner, steel frame doors with locking handles and full perimeter bulb rubber which collectively provide for a fully weather tight enclosure. The windshield is made from durable, long-lasting hard coated polycarbonate material for added protection. This windshield is strong enough to support a wiper and can stand up to abrasion and trail debris.

Each PathPro SS cab system uses zippered 30 gauge clear double-polished vinyl windows and soft rear panel that can be rolled up and strapped out of the way in nice weather. These PathPro SS cab systems offers very high visibility in all directions.

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RSM & Associates Introduces Three New Utility LSV Vehicles

RSM and Associates of Jackson, MI have announced the availability of three new gas powered utility vehicles.  Sold under the Suzuki brand, this lineup of LSV compliant vehicles includes the two passenger pick-up called the Super Stalker LS, the four passenger Mail-Mate delivery van and four passenger, 5 door, micro-van called the Shuttle.  The mpg for the fuel efficient vehicles ranges from 42 to 52 mpg.  The pick-up payload bed can operate similar to a dump bed or be raised horizontally to operate as a work platform.  It also has a half ton payload capacity and fold down sides.

All vehicles are available in 2WD or 4WD with either an automatic or manual 5-speed transmission.  Standard equipment includes speedometer/odometer, turn signals, safety glass, seatbelts, emergency flashers, power steering, back-up light, horn, spare tire and jack.  Air conditioning is also available. … All of the vehicles have standard heating systems, dash clusters, suspensions, drive-trains and ergonomics for driver comfort.   They are right hand drive and the servicing requirements are similar to any other vehicle.  Just change the oil and air filters as scheduled.  There is no other maintenance required until 60,000 miles.

Market segments for the vehicles include property owners, universities, municipalities, park services.  Learn more:

CT&T Chooses South Carolina For EV Production Facility

After looking at a number of different cities and states over the past year, CT&T has chosen the city of Duncan in Spartanburg Count, South Carolina for their first US based production facility.  Korea-based CT&T is partnering with the 2AM Group of South Carolina to develop the electric vehicle production facility.   Operating under the name CT&T Southeast LLC, the joint venture will produce CT&T’s eZone and cZone electric vehicles.  The vehicles will target the NEV market as well as commercial uses such as security, maintenance and utility applications.  CT&T will invest $21 million and create 370 new jobs to support its production over the next five years and expects the facility to be operational in the fourth quarter of this year.

2AM Group, LLC is a premium technical service provider in the fields of project management, engineering, assembly, quality assurance and logistic services for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers in the Automotive, Aerospace, and Marine Industries.

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