Polaris Adds Pro Armor Brand To Accessories Lineup

A Polaris RZR 800 with a Pro Armor door.

A Polaris RZR 800 with a Pro Armor door.

Polaris Industries recently purchased the Pro Armor Brand of ATV and side-by-side accessories from California-based of LSI Products Inc. and Armor Holdings LLC. Pro Armor had sales of $15 million last year. The company will continue to operate and develop products independently at their Riverside, CA location. Polaris has been collecting brands of late for its’ Parts, Garments and Accessories (PG&A) division including acquisition of KLIM branded snowmobile and motorcycle clothing and Kolpin Outdoors, another UTV/ATV accessory manufacturer. Learn more:  Startribune.com

Comment:  Accessories account for over 50% of Polaris’ PG&A revenue which reached $611 million in 2013 and has nearly doubled since 2009 when it was $313 million. In 2014 management expects PG&A revenue to increase another 20%. Increasing sales of this division has been a strategic objective of the management and they have executed on that objective through both organic growth and acquisition of existing strong brands. Accessory spending on high performance UTVs is quite high, averaging around $1,500 and often ranging thousands of dollars higher. In a recent presentation to the investor community Polaris reported strong increases in dollars spent on accessories per vehicle for both Rangers and RZRs.

Pro Armor Recalls Doors For Polaris RZR 800 and 900

The Pro Armor door being recalled.

The Pro Armor door being recalled.

A closeup of the door's problematic latch.

A closeup of the door’s problematic latch.

Pro Armor is recalling about 300 doors that were sold as accessories for model year 2010 through 2014 Polaris RZR 800 and RZR 900 models because a problem with the door latch can allow the door to open while the vehicle is moving. The details from the Consumer Safety Products Commission follow.

Recall Details
Units – About 300


This recall involves Pro Armor doors sold as accessories for model year 2010 through 2014 Polaris RZR 800 and RZR 900 models. The doors have a black powder coated finish and have four major components: a large square sheet metal panel, a smaller triangular sheet metal panel, a tubular metal frame and a latch. The panels are interchangeable and come in two styles. One style has cutout vents along the top and the other style has none. The smaller panel has a white Pro Armor logo below the cutouts. The door frame has the logo and “Pro Armor” on the top tube. The latch is silver with a black locking mechanism that attaches to the vehicle frame and a handle that attaches to the door.

Hazard: – The latch pin can disengage from the latch and allow the door to open while the vehicle is moving, posing a risk of ejection of an unrestrained rider and impact or laceration hazards.

Incidents/Injuries – Pro Armor has received 23 reports of the latch pin disengaging. No injuries have been reported.

Remedy – Consumers should immediately stop using vehicles with these doors and contact Pro Armor for a free repair kit.

Sold at – Powersports dealers and online nationwide from June 2014 through October 2014 for about $550 to $600 for the set of doors.

Manufacturer(s) – LSI Products Inc. dba Pro Armor, Riverside, Calif.

Learn more:  CPSC.gov

Comment:  This is a pretty small recall in terms of the number of units. Polaris recently acquired Pro Armor.

Ecocruise Set To Enter NEV Market

The new Cruser Sport NEV from Ecocruise will be launched in January 2015.

The new Cruser Sport NEV from Ecocruise will be launched in January 2015.

Ecocruise based in Washington is set to enter the NEV market in January 2015 when they start shipping their Ecocruise Cruser Sport. The decidedly sporty model features a carbon fibre body over exposed tubular steel,  exposed suspension and 14in aluminum wheels along with a covered rear hatch and T-tops. While built for the road, the design evokes off-road vehicles and reflects the off-road motorsports experience of company founder Steve Leighty who spent many years designing and building dirt bikes and ATVs.

The Cruser Sport features a ​Lifepo4 72v 62AH battery, 5kW brushless DC motor, 4-wheel disc brakes, dual A-arm front suspension and swing arm rear suspension. Other amenities include AM/FM radio, bucket seats and LCD instrument display. The Cruser Sport will retail for $8,500 to $11,900 depending on the battery and motor options.

Management expects their model lineup to be expanded shortly after the Cruser Sport launch with a one-seater EZIP-4 for around $3,800. In addition a line of service and utility vehicles, including electric scooters, will follow as well as a golf version of the Cruser Sport.  Learn more:  BBC.com

Comment:  The Cruser Sport definitely has a different look than most of the NEVs on the market. While the consumer NEV market has grown, it has not been an explosive growth rate and in many areas has been eclipsed by commercial demand from institutions such as schools and parks looking for green and safe transportation alternatives. The consumer NEV market has been undercut, in part, by local regulations allowing expanded use of lower cost golf cars on public roads. In areas  requiring compliance with NEV-type safety regulations NEVs have had more success. The design of the Cruser Sport may help it garner more sales than the typical NEV.

LiV Golf Cars Trying To Enter Fleet Golf Car Market

The Evolve fleet golf car from LiV Golf Cars

The Evolve fleet golf car from LiV Golf Cars powered by lithium batteries.

The Prosper fleet golf car from LiV Golf Cars powered by lithium batteries.

The Prosper fleet golf car from LiV Golf Cars powered by lithium batteries.

LiV Golf Cars based in Libby, Montana is hoping to break into the golf car fleet market in 2015 with a pair of lithium battery powered electric golf cars. Started in 2013 with the aid of a $368,000 grant from the local government, the company to date has produced 34 vehicles during the course of their product development and initial sales process. According to CEO Jon Hoster 15-20 of those vehicles are on five different golf courses located in California, Phoenix and Las Vegas. The development process took longer than expected but their two models, the Evolve and the Prosper are now ready for market. Under the terms of the grant the company must employ 22 people by September 2015. Currently the company employs two but Hoster hopes to add 15-20 in 2015.

What is unique about the Evolve and Prosper are that they are powered by Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries as opposed to lead acid batteries typically found in electric fleet golf cars. The company states the advantages of the lithium batteries are that they last longer, three to four times longer, than lead-acid batteries; are lighter leading to less compaction on courses; and reduce vehicle maintenance. The batteries have a 6-year warranty.

The Evolve is targeted towards more upscale courses and features an aluminum alloy chassis, independent front and rear leaf spring suspension, water-directional sun top, and impact resistant body molding. The Prosper has a tubular steel chassis instead of aluminum and has a hydraulic shock absorber with coil over springs front suspension instead of Macpherson strut front suspension. Both models feature a 48-volt system with a D&D Motor Systems, separately excited motor and a lithium iron phosphate battery pack. There is no mention of pricing for the vehicles on their website.  Learn more:  Thewesternnews.com

Comment:  Cracking the fleet golf car market will be a difficult task. It is a very price sensitive market that is dominated by E-Z-GO and Club Car with Yamaha a distant third. All three should have a significant cost advantage given their size and manufacturing volume compared to such a small company. There is also the issue of having the proper distribution and servicing network to service fleet golf cars. Golf cars are a revenue generator for courses and any down time impacts the bottom line. On top of these challenges the golf industry has faced some difficult economic times with a decline in the number of courses since 2006 as well as ongoing attrition in the number of golfers.

CPSC Moves Ahead On Mandatory Side-by-Side Standards

Picture of roll simulator testing performed on behalf of the CPSC.

Picture of roll simulator testing performed on behalf of the CPSC.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) has voted to move ahead with mandatory product safety standards for recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), also known as side-by-sides. The UTV industry is vigorously protesting and the industry trade association, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) issued a statement stating…

The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association is extremely disappointed that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today voted 3 – 2 to begin the process for a rule imposing a mandatory product standard for recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), commonly referred to as side-by-sides.
The proposed rule relies heavily on CPSC assumptions, rather than on scientific conclusions drawn from relevant testing or incident data….The proposed rule, if ultimately approved, would limit the ability of ROV manufacturers to design vehicles to safely provide the level of performance that is expected by OHV enthusiasts.  (Full Statement)

The CPSC’s draft proposed rules includes:

 (1) lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements that specify a minimum level of rollover resistance for ROVs and require that ROVs exhibit sub-limit understeer characteristics; and (2) occupant retention requirements
that would limit the maximum speed of an ROV to no more than 15 miles per hour (mph), unless  the seat belts of the driver and front passengers are fastened; and the rule would require ROVs to  have a passive means, such as a barrier or structure, to limit further the ejection of a belted
occupant in the event of a rollover.

The CPSC makes a distinction between low speed UTVs that have a top speed of 30 mph and higher speed UTVs which the rule is targeting. There will be a 75 day comment period regarding the new rules and the industry is encouraging side-by-side enthusiasts to make their voices heard on this issue. Polaris has created a website where people can contact their Congress member. As of this posting over 12,000 people have used the website to contact over 500 members of Congress.

The industry is arguing that CPSC’s methodology in developing the standards is flawed because it is “…inappropriately apply design- restrictive standards developed for on-highway vehicles, without ensuring that those principles apply in off-highway environments.” In the CPSC’s briefing package they state

ROVs obey the same principles of motion as automobiles because ROVs and automobiles share key characteristics, such as pneumatic tires, a steering wheel, and spring-damper suspension that contribute to the dynamic response of the vehicle.11 Thus, the test procedures to measure the vehicle handling properties of passenger cars and light trucks are also applicable to ROVs.

What is not mentioned as a common key characteristic between the vehicle types is the type of ground upon which they operate and this appears to be a critical distinction. The CPSC reports 335 deaths involving ROVs from 2003 through April 2013 and estimates that ROV accidents cause more than 11,000 medically treated injuries every year. The CPSC calculated the cost of the changes at $61 to $94 per vehicle and the societal benefits at $2,200 per vehicle. While the industry has developed voluntary standards over the last several years, the CPSC does not believe that these are enough. Those in favor of the ruling believe the industry is exaggerating the negative impacts of the standards.

A video on the Polaris website mentioned above makes a few points about why they believe the standards are a bad idea.

  1. Steering changes proposed would make vehicle steering less predictable and responsive.
  2. Proposed stability changes would require manufacturers to lower and widen vehicles, which would reduce ground clearance and prohibit trail access, or require stiffer tires which would result in less traction on hills, longer stopping distance and more spin-outs in corners. In addition the standards would eliminate factory installed cabs and doors. (This is not explained but I assume it has to do with the vehicle’s center of gravity)
  3. The seat belt interlock could lead to unintended high-speed vehicle decelerations, rely on sensors that could be unreliable in harsher off-road environments and would eliminate under seat storage.
  4. The passive restraints would make vehicle entry and exit more difficult.

Learn more:  Farmfutures.com

Comments:  If what the industry says is true then these standards could be in direct conflict with some of the recent trends in the market, namely increased ground clearance and narrower vehicles to access ATV trails. In addition, marketing content for some vehicles has been touting improved designs for better vehicle entry and exit. I would like to hear from some engineers or those similarly informed on the applicability of the testing standards and how big an impact the standards would have on vehicle design.

Tata Motors Showcases 2 New Ace Mini-Truck Variants


Tata Motors vehicles display at Municipalika-2014

India-based Tata Motors used the Municipalika 2014 international conference to showcase their Tata ACE Hopper Tipper BS IV – Waste Segregation and Super ACE Suction Machine BS III mini suction vehicle. The ACE Hopper Tipper BS IV is suited for door-to-door garbage collection and the Super ACE Suction Machine BS III mini suction vehicle for door-to-door sewage cleaning. According to the company the “Tata ACE Hopper Tipper BS IV – Waste Segregation fully- built Mini Garbage Tipper is available in BS III & BS IV variants, suitable for hilly terrains, and uses cathodic Electro Deposition (CED) treated body for corrosion prevention. Super ACE Suction Machine BS III is equipped for high pressure suction operation for a depth of upto 25 feet and diameter upto 75 mm – to clean thick sludge, and offers 39% vehicle gradeability making it suitable for hilly terrains” Both vehicles are small enough to operate in narrow lanes found in the dense urban areas of India.

Municipalika is an international conference and exhibition that focuses on emerging trends in sustainable habitat and integrated cities. India has experienced rapid population growth in urban areas in recent years and that is expected to continue for some time.  Learn more:  Rushlane.com

Comment:  These products are a good example of the differences between the US and other markets such as Asia when it comes to small, task-oriented vehicles. The US cities are neither as physically cramped or densely populated as some of the “mega” cities in other parts of the world. The characteristics of these cities create a greater demand for smaller vehicles that require lower speeds and smaller dimensions.