Bad Boy Mowers has launched a new lineup of utility vehicles under the Intimidator name. The three vehicle lineup features three different power plants, a 1000cc diesel, a 750 cc gas and a 48 volt electric model. Key features of the models incllude:
1,600 lb payload
Shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive
10.25″ slop on brake rotors and with dual piston calipers
Four wheel independent suspension
27″ tires with 14″ aluminum alloy
10 inches of travel at each wheel
Colors: orange, military (OD) green, midnight metallic black or Mossy Oak™ camouflage
Polaris Industries will be producing their recently launched Brutus line of commercial utility vehicles at a facility in Milford, IA in 2014. Once the Klaussner-Stylecraft Furniture factory, the site was purchased by Polaris after it was closed in 2011. A state agency provided the company with $3.6 million in tax credits and the city provided “$1 million in tax increment financing over a 10-year period.” along with putting in a lift station and sewer line. Polaris already produces their GEM line at another location at the site. Learn more: Siouxcityjournal.com
After a not so successful first try, Piaggio Vehicles India, will be taking a second crack at the light commercial vehicle market in India with some updated models. Their current product lineup featuring the Ape Mini and the Ape Truck Plus in the 0.5 and 1 tonne categories respectively will be replaced by the Porter 600 and the Porter 1000 in the next two months. The Porter 1000 is a 0.75 tonne vehicle and a 1.5 tonne vehicle based on the Porter platform is also on the horizon.
The main competitors in this market are Tata Motors’ Ace Zip and Ace and Mahindra & Mahindra’s Maxximo. According to Piaggio’s According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers the new vehicles will provide more “power, fuel efficiency, gradability” than the competition and they hope to capture 10% of the market with the new vehicles. The LCV market grew approximately 14% in the last year according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Learn more: Domain-b.com
A number of events have occurred recently that demonstrate the need for an advocate for the LSV industry and raises the question of why there currently isn’t one. First, at the beginning of the year when the “fiscal cliff” bill was passed, a package of electric vehicle tax provisions were extended but LSVs were specifically excluded. The exclusion was typically framed as no tax credits for “golf cars”. In part this was the result of politics dating back to the original tax credits in the stimulus bill. A number of news outlets promoted the idea that these were tax credits for golf cars, which was factually wrong. At the time, the only push back I saw from the LSV manufacturers came from Tomberlin. For this latest bill where was the advocacy for extending the tax credits for LSVs. These had provided a significant boost to the market when they were in place.
There was also NHTSA’s proposed rule regarding a warning alarm for electric vehicles. It’s application to LSVs in low speed environments such as university campuses and parks makes no sense since the alarm would be continuously sounding. This is a major market segment for LSVs. The rule also applies to electric motorcycles and within days the relevant industry association had commented on the ruling but there were no comments from LSV manufacturers.
Another event was the recent funding increase for California’ Clean Vehicle Rebate Fund. The increased funding was earmarked for only highway capable vehicles. Now, I understand that CARB wants to promote advanced technology, but at the same time LSVs have been successful in displacing fossil fuel use. They are being used as primary transportation in gated communities, viable secondary vehicles in communities with public road access and replacements for pickup trucks on college campuses and in public parks. They may not be advanced technology but they are affordable technology that can help towards the same goals.
More of a trend than a single event, is the use of golf cars on public streets. While early on local officials, usually with the support of the local police chief, were voting to not allow golf cars on public streets for safety reasons, that trend seems to be reversing based on what we have been tracking. In addition, some states allow golf cars to be modified to meet LSV standards. Both of these trends undercut the LSV market. Many people will choose to purchase a cheaper golf car without the safety features than an LSV or they can highly customize a golf car for the same price as an LSV and add the safety standards.
Part of the reason there is no voice for the LSV industry is that the market is still small in size. There are quite a few manufacturers but many are small and the for larger manufacturers LSVs represent only a small portion of their sales. In addition, golf car manufacturers, logical choices to be more aggressive advocates, entered the LSV market relatively late. The market for LSVs continues to grow and hopefully in the future a forceful voice for the industry will develop. It would be helpful for not only LSVs but also if manufacturers ever want to establish a medium speed vehicle standard which would increase the utility of these types of vehicles and broaden the potential market.
Stealth Manufacturing, a maker of electric powered utility vehicles for hunting, has gone out of business. According to management they simply did not sell enough product and pointed to range and cost issues as well as a small developing market as reasons for their difficulties. A last minute investment or sale of the company could not be arranged. While some dealers are left with inventory and are out some money, they generally liked the latest line of vehicles.
The company started in 2007 in Louisiana before moving operations to Georgia in 2010. Stealth had become the main competitor to Bad Boy Buggies in the burgeoning market segment for electric hunting vehicles. Learn more: Dealernews.com
Comment: The relatively recent acquisition of Bad Boy Buggies by E-Z-GO is looking like a smart move. They are now in a dominant position in the segment and our interviews with dealers for our latest market study indicate that their product line upgrade has been well received. With E-Z-GO behind it, Bad Boy Buggies now has access to a large dealer network across the country, production and engineering expertise and the financial resources to develop as the segment grows.
While we have heard some remarks about the quality of Stealth vehicles, this may provide an opportunity for another manufacturer in the market to grab a fairly well-established brand in this sub-segment for a limited amount of money. In general, STOV manufacturers are diversifying into other market segment and an acquisition of Stealth assets could fit into that strategy. A couple of possibilities that come to mind are another golf car manufacturer looking to leverage their electric vehicle expertise and further expand into off-road utility vehicles. Another would be Polaris that has been making acquisitions in the electric vehicle and technology space with acquisitions such as GEM. As their dealers develop expertise in selling one electric vehicle line, they could leverage that experience as well as their access to recreational market segments by adding an electric hunting vehicle line.
The California Energy Commission is adding $4.5 million to the coffers of the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program operated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Unfortunately for LSV manufacturers and purchasers the funds are earmarked only for highway capable zero-emission electric vehicles and light-duty plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can carry at least four passengers. CARB has issued approximately 18,000 rebates totaling $41 million through its Clean Vehicle Rebate Program with a small percentage of those rebates for LSVs/NEVs.
Comment: The exclusion of NEVs/LSVs is not too surprising. One of CARB’s goals of the program is to speed the adoption of new vehicle technologies. They do not consider LSV technology to be a new technology that can be transferred to highway capable vehicles. This is also apparent in the zero emission credit valuation of LSVs for their zero emission vehicle requirement program with which vehicle manufacturers must comply.
Gridtential Energy is a startup battery manufacturer that is applying chip and hard-drive manufacturing processes to lead acid batteries. The techniques are being used to bond active material to the battery plates as opposed to pasting or printing it on them. The advantage is that the active layer is less likely to separate from the plates so the battery last longer. In addition the active layer is much thinner for more efficient charging and discharging that reduces energy loss to heat buildup. The battery is also lighter. According to management “…the battery can be charged and discharged more than a regular battery, and can be charged and discharged to 80 percent of its capacity. In contrast basic lead acid batteries are more commonly charged and discharged closer to 40 to 50 percent of their capacity in order to make them last longer.”
The company recently received $1 million in funding from the Roda Group. In the early stages of development, the technology is not expected to be commercialized until 2016. The company is targeting the golf car, forklift and wheelchair markets first.
Polaris Industries is taking their non-pneumatic tire (NPT) technology developed for military applications and is planning to commercialize it for other markets. The tires feature a web made of proprietary plastic, a solid outer band of rubber for the tread and an inner steel rim. In testing the tires have been able to withstand 0.50 caliber bullets and railroad spikes and continue to perform for hundreds of miles or more. A significant portion of the webbing can be compromised and the tire will remain functional.
The NPT tires also have the added advantages over pneumatic tires of being more shock absorbing for a better ride and contact with the driving surface and quieter since there is no air-filled cavity to amplify sounds. The NPT tires may be available as soon as early 2014. The technology originated with Resilient Technologies which Polaris acquired last year.
In early estimates management expects there to be a 30% to 50% premium over traditional tire and rim assemblies. One potential consumer segment that would want the tire would be recreational trail riders. They spend significant dollars on upgrades and drive their vehicles hard in difficult terrain. The convenience of not having to fix one or more flats on a ride could be compelling. In addition, commercial applications where UTVs are being used in particularly harsh and/or remote areas could make the tires worth the extra expense. SVR knows of one other major STOV manufacturer that is looking to introduce a NPT by the end of 2014.
New Bobcat 3600 and 3650 UTVs co-developed with Polaris
Bobcat has launched the 3600 and 3650 utility vehicles, the latter features powert take-off (PTO) attachments. The vehicles are similar to the recently introduced Brutus line from Polaris that the companies co-developed. Both the 3600 and 3650 feature a 24.8 hp Yanmar diesel engine, hydrostatic drive and a top speed of 30 mph. They also have 4×4 and AWD capabilities. The 3650 offers more attachments including PTO attachments: snowblower, mower, angle broom and non-PTO attachments snowblade, pallet fork and bucket. A spreader and sprayer are available for both. Other comparative features for the models include:
1,250 lb cargo box capacity for both models
2,200 lb towing capacity for the 3600 vs 2,000 lb for the 3650
500 lb in lift and 2 feet in height capacity for the 3650 attachments
Factory cab comes standard with heat and air
MSRPs of $15,000 for the 3600 and $25,000 for the 3650
The New BRUTUS Line of Commercial UTVs from Polaris
Polaris Industries has introduced their BRUTUS line of utility vehicles for the commercial work segment. Their first purpose-built commercial vehicle line offers front-end power take-off capability. The product line includes the BRUTUS, BRUTUS HD and BRUTUS HDPTO models with MSRPs of $15,999, $17,999 and $23,999 respectively. Developed as part of their partnership with Bobcat, Polaris will manufacturer the vehicles while Bobcat will provide an assortment of attachments. Key features of the vehicles include:
24 hp diesel engine
Front-end power take-off option powered by the vehicle’s engine
Treadle pedal that allows travel in forward or reverse without shifting gears
6 inch of suspension travel
On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive
1,250 pound cargo capacity and 2,000 lb towing capacity
Pro-Tach attachment system for the HD and HDPTO models
PTO powered attachments: angle broom, finishing mower and snow blower and hydraulically-powered attachments: snow blade, pallet forks and materials bucket
Enclosed cab with heat, defrost and AC is standard on the HDPTO
Comment: This new line introduction is more evidence of the continuing trend in the STOV market of product diversification by many of the manufacturers. Polaris is a prime example, from their strength in the recreational and general work UTV markets they have expanded into more focused commercial segments with their Bobcat alliance and into electric utility vehicles and personal transportation segments with their acquisition of GEM. Golf car manufacturers have also done the same from their fleet golf car base into heavier duty off-road UTVs and into the LSV markets. The challenge these companies face is developing a distribution network for these new product lines. Typically their traditional dealer networks do not reach or only partially reach the customer base in the segments they are newly targeting. In addition, the sales process may be different such as selling UTVs to colleges and universities compared to selling to a retail customer.