Polaris Introduces All-New GEM Lineup For 2016

The all new 2016 GEM e2.

The all new 2016 GEM e2.

The 2016 GEM e2 with an enclosed cargo box.

The 2016 GEM e2 with an enclosed cargo box.

The 2016 GEM eL XD with an enclosed rear cargo area.

The 2016 GEM eL XD with an enclosed rear cargo area.

Polaris Industries has announced an all new GEM lineup of vehicles for model year 2016. According to John Stockman, GEM director at Polaris. “The all-new GEM takes what our customers already love about these vehicles and improves the ergonomics, ride and range. We’ve also added more comfort and safety features to provide an even better experience for both rider and driver, with the added benefit of just $.03 per mile cost of ownership.” Some of key features for the all new GEM include:

  • Aluminum chassis that passes SAE roof-crush-test standards
  • Front-wheel disc brakes
  • Automotive style suspension
  • High-back forward-facing seats
  • 3-point seat belts
  • Automotive glass windshield
  • LED signal lights
  • Optional RiderX app provides free access to road maps
  • Smart Power which matches the power to the task with the ability to choose the best combination of battery and charge options.
  • Optional Li-ion battery
  • The eL XD model offers a recessed bed option to lower loading height and maximize hauling capability, and a tailgate ramp.

There are seven models in the product line.  There are three passenger vehicles, the e2, e4 and e6, as well as four utility vehicles, the eL XD, eM 1400, eM 1400 LSV and the Polaris M1400.  The Polaris M1400 is a gas powered vehicle. Pricing starts at $8,999 for the GEM e2 and increases to $12,999 for the GEM eL XD. A range of factory installed options are available including but not limited to in-windshield defrost, electronic power steering, integrated doors and a full range of rear carrier options. Learn more:  Polaris.com

Comment:  I spoke with a GEM dealer who has some limited knowledge of the vehicles at this point and he gave me his first impressions:

  • The redesigned doors are the most significant improvement, addressing hardware problems, water intrusion, ease of entry/exit, line of sight issues and lack of availability for 6 passenger models.
  • The redesigned interior addresses driver comfort issues with more legroom and headroom.
  • The new AGM and Lithium ion battery options are a significant improvement and allow for better matching of batteries to vehicle application.
  • The additional options for the popular eL XD model will allow for more customization for the wide variety of uses for which customers currently use the vehicle.

Arctic Cat Reports Q2 2016 Financial Results

The 2016 Wildcat 4X, a higher priced ($20,999 MSRP) model in the Arctic Cat lineup is expected to improve the company's revenue in the rest of the fiscal year.

The 2016 Wildcat 4X, a higher priced ($20,999 MSRP) model in the Arctic Cat lineup, is expected to improve the company’s revenue in the rest of the fiscal year.

Last week Arctic Cat reported their financial results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2016, which ended on September 30, 2015. Arctic Cat reported quarterly revenue of $211.2 million and net earnings of $11.2 million compared to $262.5 and $15.4 for the prior year quarter. Management noted currency headwinds, especially in Canada, a competitive market and softer than expected retail sales in the ATV/UTV market. Therefore, the company’s management lowered their fiscal 2016 full year guidance. The following are some the highlights from the earnings call related to the side-by-side/utility vehicle market.

  • Sales of ATVs and ROV side-by-sides increased 1.7% to $70.8 million from $69.6 million in the year ago quarter driven by Wildcat side-by-sides.
  • A key marketing initiative was started with a five year product development and marketing agreement with racer Robby Gordon and Todd Romano, and their SPEED RMG brand. The initiative specifically targets technology development for the Wildcat side-by-sides to produce new products and accessories.
  • For full year fiscal 2016 management expects ATV/side-by-sides sales to increase mid-single digits percent.
  • For the quarter, the industry retail sales were flat to up low single-digits for ATVs and side-by-sides and Arctic Cat was similar overall but with more strength in side-by-sides.
  • Year-to-date Arctic Cat was up low double digits for side-by-sides retail sales.
  • Management is terminating under-performing dealerships while adding dealers in open territories.

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings call transcript)

Comment:  Both Polaris and Arctic Cat have reported slower than expected growth in the side-by-side market, as well as, increasing competitiveness. While the market is still expected to grow, the rate of growth may be more mid-single digit percent rather than double digits or even high single digits.

Jacobsen Launches New Professional Series of Utility Vehicles

The following is a summary of the key vehicle features:

The Truckster MS/MX are two of the newly launched Jacobsen models.

The Truckster MS/MX are two of the newly launched Jacobsen models.

Truckster MS/MX

  • Engine:  13 hp, 4-cycle, single cylinder, air-cooled Kawasaki engine
  • Engine:  CVT transmission
  • Speed:  MS – 16.5 mph; MX – 17 mph
  • Payload Capacity:  MS – 1,200 lbs; MX – 800 lbs
  • Cargo Bed Capacity:  MS – 800 lbs; MX – 500 lbs
  • Ground Clearance:  MS – 4.3″; MX – 5.3″
  • Width:  MS – 49.5″; MX – 48.5″
  • Available lifted suspension on the MX provides added ground clearance
The electric powered Jacobsen Truckster MS-E.

The electric powered Jacobsen Truckster MS-E.

Truckster MS-E/MX-E

  • Motor:  22.4 hp, 72V AC induction electric motor
  • Speed:  MS-E 13 mph programmable to 19 mph; MX-E 16 mph
  • Payload Capacity:  MS-E 1,000 lbs; MX-E 900 lbs
  • Cargo Bed Capacity:  MS-E 600 lbs; MX-E 500 lbs
  • Ground Clearance:  MS-E 5.5″; MX-E 7.0″
  • Width: MS-E/MX-E 49.8″
Truckster LS-LX

The Truckster LS and LX feature a polyethylene cargo bed.

Truckster LS/LX

  • Engine:  13 hp, 4-cycle, single cylinder, air-cooled Kawasaki engine
  • Speed:  LS/LX 17 mph
  • Payload Capacity:  LS/LX 800 lbs
  • Cargo Bed Capacity:  LS 500 lbs; LX 400 lbs
  • Ground Clearance:  LS/LX 4.3″
  • Width:  LS 49.5″; LX 48.5″
  • Polyethylene cargo bed
  • Available lifted suspension for the Truckster LX

Learn more:  Jacobsen.com

John Deere Announces XUV 825i Special Edition Gator

The new XUV 825i Special Edition Gator with two integrated tool boxes.

The new XUV 825i Special Edition Gator with two integrated tool boxes.

The special edition model also features LED roof lights.

The Special Edition model also features LED roof lights.

John Deere used the GIE+EXPO to announce a new 2016 special edition Gator utility vehicle. The XUV 825i Special Edition Gator features two integrated cargo tool boxes and LED roof lights. The two cargo boxes are situated on the driver and passenger side. The driver’s side box opens from the top and has two divided compartments with a removable tray. The passenger side box opens from the side and features one open compartment. Both tool boxes have a 75 lb. capacity.

Additional features include a 50 hp, 812cc, electronic fuel injected gas engine that delivers a 44 mph top speed, on-demand four-wheel drive, power steering, Operator Protective System with nets, 27″ Maxxis Big Horn tires, 11″ of ground clearance and a 1,000 lb. deluxe cargo box with a polyurethane liner. The 2016 XUV 825i Special Edition Gator will be available in December 2015 with a MSRP $16,799 compared to $13,159 for the standard XUV 825i Power Steering model. Learn more:  UTVguide.net

Comment:  Compared to the standard model, the Special Edition model includes the cargo tool boxes, the LED roof lights, side nets and the Maxxis Big Horn tires.

John Deere Expands Horicon Facility For Gator Production

John Deere has broken ground on an expansion of their Horicon, WI manufacturing facility to increase their production capacity for Gator utility vehicles. The 388,000 square foot addition will allow the company to move Gator production in-house from a contract facility, which will improve manufacturing efficiency and facilitate more vehicle customization. John Deere is investing $42.9 million in the expansion and receiving $2 million in tax credits from the state of Wisconsin. The Horicon plant currently employs 1,100 people and will add 80 more when the expansion is finished at the end of the 2016 or beginning of the 2017. Learn more:  JSOnline.com

Comment:  Earlier this year Kubota also moved ahead on an expansion of their utility vehicle manufacturing facilities in the US. Both Kubota and John Deere compete in the farming market segment and other markets for work utility vehicles. These investments indicate that the UTV market is growing and that major manufacturers expect it to continue going forward. The John Deere expansion may be an indication that increased vehicle customization is a trend moving forward.

Polaris Reports Q3 2015 Results

Polaris Industries reported financial results for the third quarter of 2015, with sales increasing 12% to $1.45 billion and income increasing 10% to $155 million. The following are some of the key points from the earnings call related to the utility vehicle market:

  • From CEO Scott Wine “…the off-road vehicle space is quite healthy, as competitive activity is more intense than in any time in my seven years with Polaris.”
  • ORV sales which includes UTVs and ATVs grew only 3% in the quarter
  • Market headwinds from the oil and agricultural sectors as well as Canada
  • ORV sales were led by global RZR shipments and stronger U.S. sales, partially offset by continued weakness in Canada, along with unfavorable international currencies.
  • ORV sales were up 5% year to date
  • Polaris gained share in both UTVs/side-by-sides and ATVs
  • Side-by-side retail grew low single digits which slightly outpaced the industry
  • New product introductions from many manufacturers is intensifying competition
  • The sport utility market has been stronger than the recreational utility market for side-by-sides for Polaris and the industry
  • Global Adjacent Market third quarter revenues increased 10% and year-to-date revenue is up 4%.
    • European Work and Transportation declined mid-single-digits percent, due primarily to currency weakness and some softness in Goupil and Mega.
    • The European quadricycle industry remains flat year-to-date with Aixam retail up modestly and increasing market share.
    • Third quarter defense revenue increased over 50%, driven by strong momentum for MRZRs and increasing international demand.
    • Year-to-date defense sales are up high-20%s.
  • International revenue increased 1% in the third quarter with strong growth in Indian and RZR brands and in the Latin American region, but somewhat offset by weak currencies, which led to revenue declines in Europe and Australia.
  • Multix, the new product through a joint venture with Eicher Motors, is now in market and initial consumer satisfaction is encouraging.
  • Construction of the the Huntsville, AL ORV manufacturing plant is on schedule to start production in Q2 2016 with a focus on creating production capacity for the Ranger product line.
  • From CEO Scott Wine, “While competitive offerings and promotional efforts expand, we anticipate slightly slower growth in the powersports industry in general, and the side-by-side segment in particular.”
  • Global Adjacent Markets will look for appropriate acquisitions.

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings call transcript)

Road Use Regulation Roundup – October 2015

The following is a summary of some of the road use regulations for golf cars, LSVs, ATVs and UTVs that has been passed or is being considered at the state, county and city levels since July 2015. Some trends in this latest regulation roundup:

  • Many of the ordinances cover the use of golf cars, UTVs and ATVs on public roads while others only involve UTVs and ATVs. Few involve LSVs or NEVs.
  • In many instances the impetus for the regulations started with local residents approaching local council members or city managers.
  • Regulatory activity is happening primarily at the town or city level, but there is some action at the county and state or provincial level as well.
  • While most of the regulations are in favor of allowing public road use, there is still some resistance from those with safety concerns.

Parsons, KS – The local police chief is pushing for a change in utility vehicle registration rules because of safety concerns arising from utility vehicles being used on local roads. Vehicles such as the Polaris Razor are considered by city staff as worksite utility vehicles, which are legal under an ordinance approved in 2009 as long as they are tagged by the police department after passing a safety inspection. Utility vehicles have been seen on roads where they are not allowed.

Gallipolis, OH – Increased interest in golf cars from residents is driving the city commission to discuss their use on city streets. The city manager notes that they have to be registered to be used on the streets and need turn signals, headlights, brake lights, a license plate, and rear view mirrors.

Houston, TX – The city of Houston passed an ordinance allowing the use of golf cars and utility vehicles on city streets as long as the driver is licensed and insured and the vehicle is registered with the police.

New Braunfels, TX – Driven by increased resident interest and use, the city council is looking at the legality of using golf cars on local streets for trips beyond going to and from golf courses. They are also looking on which streets can golf cars and NEVs be legally driven.

Lynchburg, VA – Local colleges presented a draft ordinance to the city government that would allow the colleges to drive golf cars and utility vehicles on certain local roads near their campuses. There are some safety concerns being raised by council members.

Chillicothe, IL – The city council, in response to a petition, is considering the use of UTVs on public roads but there is significant opposition on the council because of concerns about safety and what type of vehicles would be included by an ordinance. The town already allows golf cars but some feel the regulations are not clear on what is lawful or not.

Osawatomie, KS – The city council is considering an ordinance allowing golf cars and special-purpose vehicles such as UTVs, ATVs and micro-trucks on city streets. Golf carts would be limited to daylight hours, and ATVs would be required to be equipped with lights and reflectors as required for motorcycles. Work-site utility vehicles also would be required to be equipped with lights and reflectors as required for motor vehicles.

Benton County, IA – County supervisors are considering an ordinance that would allow UTVs and ATVs on certain county roads. The rule would set a 40-mph speed limit, require both the drivers and the vehicles to be properly licensed, and prohibit anyone from under age 16 from using county roadways.

Clay County, IA – County supervisors have passed an ordinance that would allow the use of ATVs and UTVs on county roads. Residents who would like to use their all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles on county roads must have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and have their vehicle registered with the Department of Natural Resources through the Clay County recorder.

Surprise, AZ – The city is reconsidering their plans to have NEV and bike lanes on Bullard Avenue. The four-lane stretch of road was reduced to two and the other two lanes were used to create a combination of bicycle and NEV lanes, in part to create traffic calming for the three school zones along the road. However, backlash from residents has the city rethinking the plan.

Wasaga Beach, Ontario – The city council has passed an ordinance allowing ATVs and UTVs to be driven on the shoulder of municipal roads from April through November. Riders will have to be insured, helmeted and have a licensed vehicle. The speed limit will be 20 km/hr for the vehicles and they cannot be driven on the beach.

Nashville, TN – A lawsuit stemming from a golf car overturning is prompting the local licensing commission to review the safety of low-speed vehicles. The golf car belonged to the Joyride taxi service and the driver had two prior DUIs and numerous traffic violations.

Milford Village, IL – The village board voted to ban golf cars and low speed vehicles within town limits.

Quebec, Canada – The provincial government wants to allow LSVs on public roads as part of a five year plan to have 100,000 electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2020.

Des Moines, IA – The Des Moine Register published an editorial against allowing ATVs and UTVs to be used on public roadways. Pointing to on-road crash statistics for the vehicles as well as statements from a number of safety related organizations, the editorial takes the position that the vehicles are unsafe when operated on local roads. The editorial is in response to a growing number of laws at the municipal level that allow ATV use on roads. Similar legislation at the state level has failed to pass.


Hyndsight Rear View Vision System For Kubota UTVs

The Kubota RTV-X900

The Journey rear view vision system from Hyndsight Vision Systems will soon be available for Kubota utility vehicles like the Kubota RTV-X900.

Hyndsight Vision Systems has announced they have established an exclusive partnership with Weidmann Brothers, a national aftermarket wholesaler of quality products to agricultural, turf, industrial and rural lifestyle dealers, to sell the company’s rear view vision system to Kubota dealerships. Weidmann’s Orange Aftermarket division supports over 1,900 Kubota dealers with aftermarket accessories for tractors, RTVs and mowers.

The Journey vision system is a portable, wireless rear view vision system that can be mounted without any wiring required on any utility vehicle, allowing full rear view coverage on a sunlight readable monitor. Designed for a harsh environment, the rugged, weather resistant system and provides a “real-to-life” visual field through a real-time video stream between camera and monitor. The Jouney system debuted at Kubota’s recent national dealer meeting. Learn more:  PRweb.com

Comment:  As the UTV market has developed, the vehicles have been adopting some of the same advanced technology that is present in automobiles. In similar fashion, this technology is typically first found on more expensive vehicles as standard equipment or as an optional accessory. This product could be useful in other STOV market segments as well such as on LSVs and golf car type vehicles used on college campuses, where vehicle safety is a significant concern in high pedestrian traffic environments. Similarly, in gated communities or where public road use by LSVs and golf cars is high there could be some demand for the product.

Cenntro Automotive To Display Electric Utility Vehicle At Auto Show

The new Metro compact utility vehicle from Cenntro Automotive.

The new Metro compact utility vehicle from Cenntro Automotive.

Cenntro Automotive will showcase its METRO™, electric utility vehicle at the Orange County International Auto Show held in Anaheim, CA from October 15 – 18. Launched earlier this year, the Metro, which the company refers to as a Compact Utility Vehicle (CUV) is similar to mini-truck and manufactured in Sparks, NV.

The electric powered vehicle features Cenntro’s own Cenntro Power powertrain, has a range of up to 50 miles, a top speed of 25 mph and payload capacity of 1,400 lbs. The Metro’s modular design allows for six different cargo area configurations for a range of end use applications including van box, refrigerated unit, grille enclosure, tarpaulin enclosure, tilting flatbed, and fixed flatbed with sideboards. Some of the key markets for the company are the US, European Union and China and targeted end use applications include city service and delivery, campus maintenance and park services. The US version of the Metro uses a lead acid battery pack while the European version uses a lithium battery pack  and has a top speed of 50 mph and a range of approximately 124 miles. Currently, the vehicles appear to be sold directly by the company rather than dealers.  Learn more:  PRnewswire.com

Kubota Makes Upgrades to 2016 UTV Models

The Kubota RTV-X1100C receives a PTO upgrade for 2016.

The Kubota RTV-X1100C receives a PTO upgrade for 2016.

Kubota has made some upgrades to their RTV-X line up of utility vehicles for model year 2016. The RTV-X1100C will now be able to have a front PTO connection. Implements can hook up to the PTO in seconds by simply flipping the PTO lever. The PTO is gearbox driven and the complete system can be removed in less than an hour if you need to use the vehicle without an implement. Four PTO attachments will be available for 2016:

  • A 66-inch snowblower with a standard hydraulic chute rotation and deflector.
  • A 66-inch sweeper that turns at more than 240 rpm.
  • A 78-inch v-plow that will accommodate the full width of the RTV.
  • A 78-inch straight blade.

Kubota has also added the RTV-X1140 to their X series. A key features is the K-Vertible cargo conversion system with an improved three-step process when converting the seating from two to four. A newly designed ROPS makes loading from the side easier when the RTV is in the two-seat configuration. In addition, the X1140 has independent rear suspension, 10% more legroom in the backseat, and a 20% larger radiator. This model is expected to ship to dealers this month. Learn more: Forconstructionpros.com

Comment:  Compared to other manufacturers these model year changes are more incremental, but consistent with the rate of change that Kubota has implemented in the past for their utility vehicles. In part, this is a reflection of their primary markets such as farming, large estate, hunting and construction. The needs of these markets have not changed drastically over the years and Kubota has had a long time presence with a full line up of vehicles. In contrast recreational UTV buyers are frequently looking for the latest and greatest new technology or larger engine size, and these changes often drive vehicle sales.