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.