Final Plan Issued for Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Riders enjoying Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area with ATVs and UTVS

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a final management plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in California. The plan is good news for off-road riders as the plan will open up 50,000 acres for off-road use within the area. The Dunes are a popular off-road riding area that stretches some 40 miles with an average with of 5 miles.

The plan includes measures to provide recreation opportunities for thousands of visitors by making nearly 180,000 acres (about 84% of the planning area) available for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, while protecting critical habitat for the threatened Peirson’s Milkvetch by closing the plant’s habitat in the recreation area (about 11,670 acres) to off-highway vehicle use. ….Per the court order, all injunctive relief, including the closures, will remain in effect for 90 days after the date the BLM signs and issues the Record of Decision. … Once the injunction is removed, the BLM will manage the area pursuant to the approved Recreation Area Management Plan.

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 Comment:  This is good news not only for off-road riders but dealers and manufacturers as well. The more off-road riding opportunities that are available the better it is for the industry as a whole, especially if they can balance recreation and environmental concerns. The West and Southwest US are a particular hot bed for off-road riding in sandy terrain.

Mixed Reviews for the Yamaha Viking

Yamaha’s new Viking utility vehicle

The new 2014 Yamaha Viking UTV received both positive and negative reviews from a mix of dealers who saw the vehicle in person and consumers commenting online about the various features of the vehicle.  In general, dealers sound more positive about the vehicle and see it as a step forward as Yamaha moves on from their Rhino offering. For dealers they find the value of the vehicle appealing. The three person seating capacity and other features make for a vehicle that can crossover from recreation to hunting to work. The versatility also comes at a nice price point for dealers, $11,499, the same as the 2013 Rhino. The dealers also liked Yamaha’s plans to introduce a new model for each of the next five years. Consumers were hoping the vehicle would be powered by a new engine rather than the modified version of the Rhino engine that is being used. Learn more:

Comment:  Once the Viking actually starts being sold and used by consumers the real assessment of the vehicle will be made. Nonetheless, the new Viking from Yamaha and plans for new model introductions annually is another sign of increasing competitiveness in the growing UTV market. With the likes of Honda, Arctic Cat, John Deere and Can Am all adding new models or whole new product lines, consumers should be the real winners in the long run as the competition drives new feature innovation and value pricing.

Honda Starts Pioneer UTV Production in South Carolina

Governor Nikki Haley helps Honda kick-off production of the new Honda Pioneer UTV

Honda held a big event at their South Carolina manufacturing facility to mark the start of production of their new 2014 Pioneer UTV. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina was in attendance. The company has added 65 jobs specifically for the new product line and will be investing a total of $27 million over the next few years. The company is also celebrating its 15th year of producing powersports products at the facility where ATVs and engines are also made.

The Pioneer lineup includes the 700 and 700-4 which features convertible seating. Both are a crossover type side-by-side for use in recreation and work applications. The vehicles replace the Big Red UTV and will be available starting in August and September at approximately 900 dealers nationwide compared to 500 for the Big Red.  Learn more:

Comment:  From my point of view the interesting part of this story is the significantly larger number of dealers that will be selling the Pioneer. I speculate that more Honda dealers are seeing the UTV market as a good growth opportunity that they want to take advantage of, and they believe the new offering from Honda will be appealing to their customers. I believe the Pioneer offers some innovations that differentiate it in the market more so than the Big Red model did.

Renault Offers Twizy Cargo for Commercial Use

Renault’s Twizy Cargo for urban commercial use

France-based Renault is modifying their commuter vehicle, the Twizy Z.E., to be used as a small commercial vehicle for cargo transport. Whereas the Twizy Z.E. features two seats with the passenger behind the driver, the Twizy Cargo will be a one-seater with cargo space. Both are electric powered vehicles. With 6.53 cubic feet of cargo space and a 165 lb payload the vehicle is best used for small package delivery in urban environments. The top speed of the Twizy 45 Cargo is limited to 27 mph which means in some European countries a driver doesn’t need a license. The Twizy 80 Cargo has a top speed of 52 mph and requires a licensed driver.  Durability issues with the vehicle raise concerns about the ability of the vehicle to withstand more demanding commercial usage. Learn more:

Comment:  Europe and some other regions have relatively more relaxed vehicle regulations than the US when it comes to smaller vehicles such as the Twizy.  With their older cities and narrower streets, they arguably have a greater need for them as well. Thus, the market and regulatory bodies have responded with a variety of vehicles and vehicle classifications to meet the market needs. Europe will continue to be a more fertile ground than the US for these low speed vehicles in the foreseeable future unless US regulations change. This is one reason why Polaris in recent years has made acquisitions in the European market and sees potential for their GEM brand internationally.

Bill to Protect Off-Road Vehicle Use in Johnson Valley Progresses

The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would create the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in California. The bill now moves to the Senate for their consideration. The Navy was attempting to take control of the area to expand the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. If the bill passes the area will be designated specifically for recreational uses, including, but not limited to, OHV use, camping and hiking. Marine Corps activities would be allowed twice a year and couldn’t include any explosives that could be left behind. Learn more:

Polaris Recalls 2011 Ranger RZR XP 900

Polaris 2011 Ranger RZR XP being recalled, also comes in white.

Polaris is recalling approximately 4,500 Ranger RZR XP 900 utility vehicles because the firewall behind the driver and passenger seats can overheat and melt, posing a burn hazard to consumers. One incident of a person burning their fingers has been reported. The vehicles are either white or red and were sold between May 2012 and February 2013. Owners should stop using the vehicles and take them to a Polaris dealer for a free repair. The company is also contacting owners directly. Learn more:

Polaris Forging Ahead in the Indian Market

Managing Director Pankaj Dubey of Polaris India

An Indian vehicle website recently posted an interview with Mr. Pankaj Dubey, Managing Director of Polaris India Pvt. Ltd. in which they discussed Polaris’s activities in the Indian market. Polaris entered the market in 2011 and have undertaken a number of efforts to grow the business. Here is a summary of the interview highlights and key marketing initiatives.

  • Participating in off-road racing events
  • Partnering with entrepreneurs to set up 16 Polaris Experience Zones in Indian cities to expose more people to off-roading
  • Their top five markets are Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad
  • Efforts to market to police, parks departments, fire departments, etc are progressing
  • The product offerings in India include ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, and the Indian and Victory Motorcycles are likely to be added but not for at least a year
  • There are currently 14 Polaris dealerships with plans to reach 50 by year end 2016
  • The company is lobbying government agencies to allow more road access for ATVs and UTVs

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Comment:  Increasing international sales has been a key strategic initiative for Polaris so it is not surprising that they are looking to expand aggressively in the next few years in India. In general foreign companies are eyeing the country’s growing middle class to power spending on goods and services. While some estimates put the middle class at about 300 million people, the upper range of this segment is where most of the spending is likely to come and that translates into about 50 million consumers. The middle class is expected to grow strongly in the coming decades. Learn more:

Robotic STOVs Searching For Non-Military Markets

Cuts in defense spending are pushing vendors of robotic mules for the military to look for non-battlefield market opportunities. While some of these vehicles can be quite large, the R-Gator from John Deere is basically an autonomous UTV. John Deere took their expertise developed for precision farming and transferred it to a Gator for military applications. One of the basic uses for these vehicles in a military setting is to carry some of the soldiers gear or additional equipment that might be too burdensome.  For example, the R-Gator has been used in training exercises to carry 100 lb robots used for bomb disposal. The first R-Gator was used by the Navy for perimeter patrol. Typically these robotic vehicles can operate in four modes:  autonomous, leader-follower, tele-operated and manual.

The civilian applications are potentially wide-ranging, encompassing any task that is “too dirty or dangerous” for a person to do. Manufacturers are eyeing emergency response, disaster recovery, security, fire suppression, humanitarian supply, law enforcement and agriculture applications. Learn more:

Comment:  If successful, this would join a long list of military technology that has found a fertile market on the civilian side. One related technology that is just coming to the civilian side is non-pneumatic tires for UTVs and other off-road vehicles. Polaris is one of the manufacturers trying to transfer this technology. The increasing capabilities of off-road STOVs are a good match for the autonomous technology of these vehicles that requires the ability to handle a variety of difficult terrain and obstacles.


E-Z-GO Introduces Redesigned TXT Golf Car

Newly redesigned E-Z-GO TXT golf car

E-Z-GO has introduced a newly redesigned TXT golf car featuring updated styling and new features to improve durability and performance. The press release follows with more details but some of the major themes of the redesign include:

  • New features to better incorporate usage of personal electronic devices
  • Refinements of existing features for increased usability and easier maintenance
  • Updated styling
  • Stronger components for increase durability

Comment:  The level of the refinements speaks to the competitive nature of the fleet golf car market where small incremental changes can lead to a competitive advantage. Some of these incremental changes in this case include an optional USB port, larger and repositioned cup holders, repositioning key control switches, slight changes in canopy angles and bagwells that drain water better. Taken individually they may not seem like much but collectively they can produce a better vehicle for both the owner and the user. This level of refinement also takes a certain level of investment and resources to study vehicle usage in great detail and develop appropriate changes at a high level of refinement.

June 18, 2013

Contact: Brandon Haddock
Director, Communications
E-Z-GO® Introduces Redesigned TXT® Golf Car
to Deliver a Better Golf Experience and Proven Performance

AUGUSTA, Ga. — E-Z-GO is pleased to introduce its redesigned TXT® golf car, updating the model’s classic look and proven performance while delivering a host of refined features to offer a better golfing experience, increased fleet durability and simpler maintenance.

“We remade the TXT to give our customers a golf car that was even easier to maintain, and to provide the premium features and conveniences expected by today’s golfers,” said Michael R. Parkhurst, vice president, golf for E-Z-GO. “The refined TXT has more of what you need, while still providing the unmatched level of performance that’s made our TXT the industry’s most trusted golf car for more than 15 years.”

Multiple design updates were developed to increase golfer enjoyment and make the car simple to use and maintain. The dashboard can be equipped with an optional USB port to recharge mobile phones, rangefinders and other small electronics, while also providing 30 percent more storage — enough room for an iPad. Storage pockets are placed higher in the dash to protect stored items from the elements.

Cup holders provide 45 percent more volume and are relocated to a more central position in the vehicle to prevent spills. Seatbacks are 23 percent larger to make every round a more pleasant experience. Ball holders are now mounted in the outside dash pockets for easy access from outside the vehicle. The oversized bagwell accommodates larger golf bags, has fewer places for dirt to collect, and new drainage holes to help eliminate standing water.

The new TXT’s updated styling follows modern automotive design cues, giving the vehicle a sleek, contemporary appearance. The forward-neutral-reverse switch has been relocated to a central location along the spacious bench seat’s centerline, placing controls at the driver’s fingertips for easier access and quick changes of direction.

Many new features of the TXT redesign increase the unit’s durability and make cleaning and maintenance easier. The vehicle’s front struts are 25 percent thicker for longer life, and the TXT’s front cowl and body panels are crafted from durable automotive-quality materials with an attractive, painted finish resistant to scratches and fading. An optional front bumper withstands repeated 5-mph impacts, and the TXT’s steel-reinforced rear bumper is the strongest in the industry.

The new sun top boasts a double-walled construction and an industry-first molded-in grab handle. The canopy is angled downward three degrees to eliminate standing water. Built-in drainage channels and a 360-degree drip edge are placed at the top’s corner to funnel water away from golfers, while lack of an internal drainage channel ensures no clogging.

The redesigned TXT golf car retains its predecessor’s proven performance and standard features still not found anywhere else in the industry. TruCourse Technology allows golf course owners to tailor speed, acceleration and regenerative braking characteristics to optimize the vehicle’s performance for safe, efficient operation on their course, and also reduces energy costs and improves battery life and daily range. The new TXT’s 48-volt DC technology offers the most efficient and effective DC power in the industry, maximizing battery life and using less energy than competing models.

For more information about the redesigned TXT, visit or follow E-Z-GO on Facebook. To receive a demo of the new TXT, contact your local E-Z-GO sales representative or authorized distributor.

About E-Z-GO
E-Z-GO, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, is a leading global manufacturer of golf cars, utility and personal transportation vehicles. Products sold under the E-Z-GO brand include RXV® and TXT® fleet golf cars, Freedom® RXV and Freedom TXT personal golf cars, E-Z-GO Terrain™ and Express™ personal utility vehicles, and the 2Five® street-legal low-speed vehicle. E-Z-GO also produces the Cushman® line of heavy-duty material carriers and utility vehicles, and the Bad Boy Buggies® line of off-road utility vehicles for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

Founded in 1954 in Augusta, Ga., E-Z-GO became part of Textron Inc. in 1960.

About Textron Inc.
Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron in known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft Company, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, and Textron Systems. More information is available at

Bennche: Official UTV & ATV of Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers

Bennche: Official UTV & ATV of the Cowboys and Rangers

Texas based manufacturer Bennche has been named the official UTV and ATV of the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers. The vehicles will be used in various capacities by the teams during games and day-to-day operations. Fans will also be able to win a Bennche ATV as part of a prize package to a football game that will be given away to a fan this summer.  Learn more: