My colleague Stephen Metzger recently attended the 2019 PGA Show in Orlando, FL. Two trends stood out from his journey through various exhibits. First, the on-going development of feature-rich and customizable personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), particularly through automotive-type features. Second, the mainstreaming of lithium power.
PTVs to the Forefront
The manufacturer announcements at the PGA Show and the current PTV shopping experience points to a clear emphasis on PTV market. Both large and small manufacturers are driving this trend. This is part of an overarching effort by manufacturers to pursue growth in the non-fleet golf car markets. They are targeting the utility and personal transportation segments as fleet sales have declined and then stagnated.
Customization with automotive features
Manufacturer websites now allow for easy and quick customization with the simple click of a few buttons. Build your own functionality adds accessories and provides transparent pricing in seconds. Many of these accessories are automotive-style features like LED lighting, high-end audio systems, premium upholstery, and bodywork accents. In addition, these trends are evident not only in offerings from major vehicle manufacturers but from new and smaller manufacturers as well as aftermarket accessory providers.
Lithium Powers Up at the PGA Show
The mainstreaming of lithium powered vehicles is the second key trend evident at the PGA Show. E-Z-GO the first major manufacturer to significantly move to lithium did so two years ago. Now they are expanding their lithium powered lineup beyond fleet models and some PTVs to include select utility vehicles. More significantly, Club Car announced their own lithium powered fleet vehicle, the Tempo, and likely will offer their Onward PTV with a lithium option later in the year. Missing from the lithium powered party for now is Yamaha Golf Car.
Lithium Market Implications
The move to lithium powered vehicles will likely produce significant changes in the STOV market. Greater range, charging times, and lengthier warranties on battery packs are key improvements. Consequently, they will affect the fleet vehicle cycle, electric powered UTV capabilities and PTV functionality. One effect that should not be underestimated is the maintenance free nature of lithium battery packs. Proper maintenance of lead acid batteries continue to vex individual owners and fleet managers. Maintenance of lead acid batteries continues to be a challenge despite being used for decades and the introduction of advanced watering systems and other technologies. Poor maintenance can lead to a less efficient powertrain, and potentially a large bill for a new battery pack.
For more detail on new products and trends at the PGA Show read my colleague Stephen Metzger’s article.
Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com