Cenntro Motors Kombi EV electric utility vehicles to be produced in Nevada.
Cenntro Motor plans to begin production of 1,650 electric vehicles at a Sparks, NV facility by August or September of this year. The $20.1 million, 150,000 square foot facility will also serve as the company’s headquarters. The facility will employ approximately 100 people and training grants along with tax deferrals were part of a $1.2 million incentive package to attract the company.
Cenntro Motors designs and builds lightweight electric commercial and passenger vehicles and their first vehicle is the Kombi EV designed for maintenance, delivery and light cargo transport. The vehicle currently comes in two configurations, the Green Space Version with a cargo bed and the City Version with a van box. Both vehicles are 2WD and use a 10 Stator KLD DC motor with max power of 12.5 kW. The vehicle’s KLD Energy Technologies oneDRIVE™ propulsion system uses a 48V system with a 6.8kW KLD Li-ion battery pack. Other key features include 800 payload capacity, 4-wheel hydraulic disk brakes, a range of 50 miles and top speeds of 31 mph for the Green Space and 25 mph for the City.
Cenntro Motors also recently acquired SITL-Brandt Motors located in Lyon, France, which will be the headquarters for their European operations. The acquisition was valued at $50 million and management plans to invest an additional $20 million. With the acquisition Cenntro’s lineup in Europe will include an all-electric CITELEC commercial truck, a two-person quadracycle and electric scooters. Learn more: Reviewjournal.com and Cenntromotors.com
Comment: The commercial/government market for small electric vehicles is attracting more attention as many companies believe this is where the growth is. From colleges and universities to municipalities and commercial entities organizations are finding these vehicles to be green, safe and cost-effective for applications that do not require traditional passenger vehicles or pick-up trucks. It continues to represent a growth segment for the STOV industry. It is also an international market with arguably better opportunities in European and Asian markets where smaller vehicles are more accepted, prevalent and have been used effectively for many years.
The 50-inch wide Wildcat Trail XT from Arctic Cat was specifically designed to access narrower trails.
A coalition of environmental groups are opposing a proposed New York State bill that would allow heavier off-road vehicles, such as UTVs, access to public recreation trails. The bill would increase the weight limit of allowable vehicles from 1,000 lbs to 1,500 lbs, essentially expanding the types of allowable vehicles from ATVs to include some UTVs as well. Groups like the Adirondack Council believe the UTVs are too fast, big and destructive to be allowed on the trails, causing more erosion, as well as water and air pollution. They are not looking to restrict use on private lands or on public lands by people with disabilities. Learn more: Northcountrypublicradio.org
Comment: It is likely that more of these conflicts between recreational UTV riders and environmental groups will be occurring in the future. The UTV market continues to grow and in the last couple of years more UTV models that are only 50 inches wide have come onto the market. They are specifically designed to provide access to ATV trails that are typically too narrow or in some areas feature numerous narrow gates for which traditional UTVs are too wide. These type of trail systems are prevalent in the Northeast.
Recent news articles point to a mix of good and bad trends for the utility vehicle market. The good is that UTVs are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of work applications as they increase worksite efficiency. As an article in Rental Management Magazine points out, an increasing number of equipment rental bids for construction, utility, oil and gas, and event planning contracts require a line for utility vehicles. This trend is one of the reasons growth in the UTV market has outpaced the economy as a whole. Buyers have been willing to spend money on the vehicles because it makes economic sense for their operations.
The driving force is increased productivity and efficiency as users are able to more easily move around equipment and people. UTVs have increased their capabilities and versatility with more hauling and towing capacity, crew versions and increasingly the ability to add work attachments. In addition, there is a range of fuel options now available for UTVs with diesel, gas with fuel injection, electric and hybrid powertrains. The trend has been increasing horsepower across all of these powertrains. Electrics have been migrating to 72 volt AC motors which give them more capabilities and expand their potential work applications as some users institute “green” initiatives.
The rental business is an important indicator since it caters to such a wide variety of market segments, exposes customers to new equipment and provides them an opportunity to try out the equipment. The rental business does offer special challenges though because of the variety of work applications. One being the need to correctly match the UTV to the end use depending on key factors such as off-road/on-road use, terrain, people moving, hauling or towing requirements, weather conditions and more. For equipment rental companies this means carrying a range of UTVs to match their regional market needs. Another issue is safety since users may be unfamiliar with UTVs or a particular brand of UTV. A variety of safety options may be available from side netting, three-point seat belts and ROPS to reverse alarms, dynamic braking and light packages and online training/safety material. Different types of speed limiting technology is also available depending on the vehicle brand.
If the UTV rental business is a positive trend, the negative trend is an increase in UTV thefts. A recent article from The State in South Carolina highlights this trend. We have also been tracking this through other local newspaper articles from throughout the country. One of the reasons for the rise in thefts is the increasing popularity of UTVs and thus creating more of a market for stolen vehicles. Some simple actions proposed by law enforcement to reduce thefts include:
Do not leave items near or close to the highway.
Make sure serial numbers are recorded and stored in a safe place so that the items may be placed into the national computer system if stolen.
Please don’t leave any of these items in areas that are easily accessible or near the roadway.
If someone approaches you about selling one of these items at greatly reduced cost, please report that to law enforcement.
Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., announced their new 2015 Viking VI EPS six-person side-by-side. Assembled in Newman, GA the Viking VI EPS features Yamaha’s Ultramatic™ fully automatic transmission, On-Command® four-wheel drive system, Electric Power Steering (EPS) and a 700cc-class engine. The new UTV can haul up to 600 lbs and tow up to 1,500 lbs.
All six passengers have bucket seats with headrests, dedicated handholds and foot rests and the middle seats are purposefully reclined five degrees providing more shoulder room for all occupants. The driver has an adjustable seat. Conveniences for all occupants include eight cup holders throughout the cab, a sealed storage container under the center front seat, additional storage under the remaining front seats, a large glove box on the front panel, and two DC power outlets – one in front and another in back. Other features include:
On-Command drive system with: 2WD, 4WD or 4WD with a fully locked front differential selections.
Steel skid plates across the entire undercarriage: front-to-back and side-to-side.
Row crop friendly track width.
The Viking VI comes in Hunter Green, Red, and Realtree AP® HD camo. MSRP for standard versions starts at $12,799 for non-EPS and $13,799 for EPS models. A Viking VI EPS Special Edition in Matte Silver with Soft Suntop comes with an MSRP of $14,999 and incorporates aluminum wheels, overfenders, mud flaps, a soft sun top, a sealed storage compartment under the left rear seat and Yamaha’s bed rail accessory mounts. Learn more: Yamahamotorsports.com
Comment: The competition in the UTV market continues to remain strong. First Honda and now Yamaha have followed up important new product launches with additional new models to keep their momentum going. Yamaha is breaking new ground with this six passenger vehicle. Marketing material points to a range of potential users from hunting groups to ranch crews. It will be interesting to see how much demand there is for a higher passenger capacity vehicle and if other manufacturers follow suit with their own versions.
For 2014 the Polaris Ranger XP 900 receives a power boost.
ThePolaris Ranger Crew 900 will be updated for 2015 as well.
Polaris announced updates for some 2015 side-by-side models including a 13% power increase for the 2015 Ranger XP 900. The 2015 model will feature a recalibrated, high output ProStar 900 engine with 68 horsepower. New intake openings, on the pillars behind the driver and passenger, allow for improved airflow for the engine and clutch air intake systems. The vehicles also feature edgier headrests, and new graphics packages and colors. Similarly the 2015 Ranger Crew 900 will feature improved air intake openings, edgier headrests and new graphics packages and colors. The Ranger XP 900 and Ranger Crew 900 will be available in Sage Green and Solar Red, with the Ranger XP 900 also available in Polaris Pursuit® Camo. The Ranger XP 900 EPS will be available in Sage Green, Solar Red, Sunset Red, Super Steel Gray, White Lightning, Black Pearl and Hunter Edition. The Ranger Crew 900 EPS will be available in Sunset Red, Super Steel Gray, White Lightning and Polaris Pursuit Camo. All vehicles will be in dealerships in June. Learn more: Polaris.com
The Can-Am Maverick 1000R X mr with the new digital camo and green manta color scheme and new Fox shocks for 2015.
The Commander 1000 DPS showing off new wheels for 2015.
Earlier this month Can-Am announced updates for their 2015 Commander and Maverick UTV lineups. The updates focus mainly on new wheels and paint/graphic schemes. New 14-inch cast-aluminum wheels will accent the 2015 Commander models, with the Commander 800 DPS and Commander 1000 DPS getting updated silver-colored cast-aluminum wheels for 2015 while the Commander 1000 XT-P will receive updated beadlock wheels.
For paint and graphics updates the Commander 800R and 1000 DPS will have a new option of Light Grey with Can-Am Red graphics while the 2015 Commander 800R XT and Commander 1000 XT each have a painted pearl white finish option. The 1000 XT also offers a new, optional brushed aluminum color with Can-Am red highlights. A new, black-and-orange color scheme will be the sole choice for the Commander 1000 XT-P side-by-side. The Can-Am Maverick 1000R X mr is offered in the standard painted black-and-yellow X-team finish or the digital camo and manta green finish. Other updates to the lines include a 4,500-pound WARN winch kit with a roller fairlead, wired remote control and integrated remote storage. The winch is designed to compliment all Can-Am side-by-side vehicles with an XT package. The Maverick 1000R X mr will feature large-diameter, 47-millimeter aluminum FOX piggyback shocks that are fully adjustable with high- and low-speed compression, rebound and multi-position preload adjustment. Learn more: Off-road.com
Steering column mounted paddle shifters on Honda’s Pioneer 500
This month Honda announced their new 2015 Pioneer 500 side-by-side. Marketed as a crossover vehicle good for work duties or trail riding, the Pioneer 500 is a two passenger vehicle featuring a 475cc four-stroke engine and a five-speed gearbox with an electric shift system and steering column mounted paddle shifters. The side-by-side is designed for trail access/use or working in tight confines with a width of only 50 inches, 73.1 inch wheelbase and 13 ft. turning radius. The side-by-side can fit in a full-size pick-up, has 450 lb. payload capacity and nearly 10 inches of ground clearance. With an MSRP of only $8,499 the Pioneer 500 is targeting entry level and price conscious buyers. Learn more: Honda.com
Comment: After several years of not aggressively pursuing the UTV market, Honda now seems to be putting resources behind their efforts as they follow up last year’s introduction of the Pioneer line with a new addition. They are also continuing two trends we have seen in the overall UTV market. First the Pioneer 500 is being positioned as a crossover type vehicle, albeit at the lower price/performance levels. Second, this is a narrow width model designed to provide access to trails for which more traditional UTVs are too wide. We have seen this in higher performance, more recreational riding oriented models from a number of manufacturers but this vehicle is clearly targeting more of a casual trail rider than a high speed trail jockey. Nevertheless, the narrowness of the vehicle could be important for customers in the eastern part of the US where trails are more narrow and/or have narrow gates that restrict access.