Urban Mobility Market for STOV OEMs

fuel cell powered urban mobility vehicle
Yamaha’s fuel cell powered urban mobility vehicle for a new ride sharing service.

Recent vehicle news from Asia spurred some thoughts on the opportunity urban mobility presents to small, task-oriented vehicle (STOV) manufacturers.

Urban Mobility Changing

Battery Swapping Autorickshaws

The first article reports on the use of battery swapping to power electric autorickshaws in India. Battery swapping removes the very expensive battery component from the upfront purchase price and reduces long term operating costs. In addition, the electric part moves toward a more climate friendly and less polluting transportation system.

The current thinking by some is that smaller two and three-wheeled vehicles provide the best economic case for battery swapping. In contrast, larger vehicles require larger batteries. This means more expensive and complicated swapping stations, and higher up front investment costs for the battery supplier. While this an India based example, the advent of e-scooters, e-bikes and startups offering three wheelers indicate market potential in the US.

Fuel Cell Powered Small Vehicle

This week Yamaha Motor announced the public testing of a prototype fuel cell vehicle for a vehicle sharing service. The vehicle looks like less than a typical automobile but more than a golf car. The technology advances new concepts in urban mobility as well as initiatives in Japan to promote hydrogen based fueling. Though the fuel cell provides greater range and less refueling needs, the more important part of this test for STOV OEMs is the vehicle form. The vehicle size and level of complexity should be a good fit for their capabilities.

Is Urban Mobility Too Small for Traditional Auto OEMs?

These transportation technologies represent a new opportunity for STOV manufacturers to leverage their existing manufacturing and technology expertise into new vehicle markets. The traditional automobile manufacturers are less likely to view these markets as an opportunity. Although, in the long term they could represent a threat to their dominance or at least reduce their addressable market. They are already pouring billions of dollars to enter the highway capable EV market. However, they must balance investment between highly profitable and traditionally popular ICE vehicles and lower margin and riskier EVs. Smaller, alternative energy vehicles are even farther down the list. In addition, their work force arguably did not join their companies to produce small, urban vehicles.

Urban Mobility Attracts Diverse Providers

Entrants in the urban mobility space include startups like Arcimoto and traditional small vehicle manufacturers serving Asian and to a lesser degree European markets. Startups have the advantage of creating purpose-built vehicles specifically for new mobility markets. However, they lack the manufacturing expertise, financial resources and distribution networks. Traditional foreign small vehicle manufacturers know their home markets, and have the distribution, financing and manufacturing assets. However, they do not have a strong presence in the US market.

Other potential entrants include the likes of bike sharing companies as well as Lyft and Uber that have moved into ride sharing with e-scooters and e-bikes. However, these company’s expertise is not in manufacturing. They provide the platform for people to access mobility. One can argue that the platform itself does not provide as a wide moat as the manufacturing and technology assets. The strengths and weaknesses of these potential providers and the dynamics of the urban mobility market suggest an opening for existing US STOV manufacturers.

Best Positioned US STOV Market Leaders

Among the current leading UTV, golf car and LSV manufacturers companies Polaris, Textron and Yamaha appear to be best positioned to pursue this new opportunity. Polaris owns Aixam, the leading European quadricycle brand as well as the GEM, Goupil and Taylor-Dunn electric vehicle brands. These brands provide them with electric vehicle technology as well as a range of distribution networks. On the other hand, the DNA and profit driver of Polaris is off-road motorsports. They may see relatively greater returns on investment in their traditional markets.

After the acquisition of Arctic Cat, Textron is similar to Polaris and now has an expansive small vehicle portfolio. Their DNA is more golf car and PTV, and therefore likely better suited towards urban mobility. However, the integration of Arctic Cat has been bumpy and they were slow to recognize the original UTV opportunity. As a piece of a larger conglomerate, their Textron Specialized Vehicle division may not be entrepreneurial enough or have the freedom to pursue this opportunity.

Yamaha has both off-road and golf car type offerings as well as e-bikes, but are not well coordinated. These businesses are in separate business units. In addition, their golf car portfolio has been emphasizing gas powered technology rather than electric technology. Yamaha’s existing mobility concept testing along with having one foot in the Asian market and another in the US should be an advantage. However, their slow re-entry into the UTV market after problems with the Rhino side-by-side speaks to a more cautious corporate approach.

The STOV OEMs appear to have many of the necessary requirements to pursue the urban mobility opportunity. The question remains whether they believe in the opportunity and if they are willing to take the risk.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Can-Am Earnings Strong For Q4 & FY19

2019 Can Am Defender XT UTV
The 2019 Can Am Defender XT in Hyper Silver is one example of the companies constant parade of new models.

Can-Am Earnings Call Summary

Can-Am earnings were strong for the fourth quarter and fiscal year for 2019. Annual revenues increased 18% from $4.5 billion to $5.2 billion (CA$) and quarterly revenues jumped 23% to $1.5 billion. The following are highlights from the recent earnings call.

  • North American powersports retail sales excluding snowmobile sales grew 19% while the industry decreased low single digits in the fourth quarter
  • North American side-by-side sales increased high teens while the industry increased single digits
  • Can-Am grew market share in side-by-sides
  • Increased UTV production capacity by 30% at Mexico facilities with another 50% capacity increase planned for the coming year
  • Continued to introduce a new side-by-side model every six months following their long term plan
  • Side-by-side market remains competitive with promotions or “back end” money going to dealers to reduce net pricing

Can-Am Earnings Guidance for FY2020

Management is expecting continued growth for fiscal year 2020

  • Annual revenue is expected to increase 7-11%.
  • Year-Around Products revenue is expected to grow between 12% and 17% driven primarily by side-by-side models.

Learn more: Seeking alpha.com (Earnings call transcript)

SVR’s Take

Can-Am has grown into the main rival to Polaris in the North American side-by-side market. They have continued to gain market share for several years and have separated themselves from the rest of the pack chasing Polaris. They are the only company that has been able to match the market leader’s level of new model introductions. The development of their Defender product lines to pursue the utility vehicle segment has been a key to unlocking more growth. The complete Can-Am side-by-side lineup now comes close in size and segment coverage to the Polaris armada. Can-Am appears to be running on all cylinders and I would expect them to continue increasing revenue and market share.

Stampede & Rustler UTVs Recalled

Textron Off Road Stampede 4
The Textron Off Road Stampede 4 is part of a recall due to a lower suspension arm issue.

Textron Off Road recently recalled approximately 700 model year 2018 Stampede and Rustler utility vehicles. The lower front suspension arm can fail and potentially cause a crash. The recall involves two-seat and four-seat models including the Stampede, Stampede 4, Rustler 850 and Rustler Crew 850. The following recall information is from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Stampede & Rustler Recall Information

Name of product: Stampede and Rustler off-highway utility vehicles (ROV’s)

Hazard: The lower front suspension arm can fail, posing a crash hazard.

Remedy: Repair

Recall date: March 5, 2019

Units: About 700 (In addition, about 70 were sold in Canada.)

Consumer Contact: Arctic Cat at 800-279-6851 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online at www.textronoffroad.com and click on Recall Information located at the bottom of the page for more information. 

Recall Details

Description: This recall involves all model year 2018 Stampede and Rustler model side by side Arctic Cat off-highway vehicles with VIN number 9003240 through 9004062. The recalled vehicles were sold in multiple colors, have four wheels and side-by-side seating for two or four people. The Stampede models have Textron Off Road on each side of the hood area and Stampede on each side of the box. The Rustler models have Rustler 850 on each side of the hood area and 4X4 on each side of the box. The Vin number is located under the front hood on all models.  

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact TSV/Arctic Cat to schedule a free repair. Arctic Cat is contacting all known purchasers directly. If you need assistance locating an authorized dealer to conduct this repair, contact Arctic Cat. 

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received four reports of front suspension arm failures. No injuries or crashes have been reported.

Sold At: Textron Off Road and Arctic Cat dealers nationwide from September 2017 through December 2018 for between $13,800 and $16,000.

Manufacturer(s): Arctic Cat Inc., of Thief River Falls, Minn., a subsidiary of Textron Specialized Vehicles, of Augusta, Ga

Manufactured In: United States

Recall number: 19-727

SVR’s Take

This is a small recall, but follows on the heels of another recent Textron Off Road recall. Textron produces the Rustler UTV for farm equipment manufacturer New Holland. The two companies partnered several years ago to produce utility vehicles. The partnership marries Textron’s vehicle manufacturing expertise with New Hollands farm oriented distribution network. SVR maintains an ongoing list of recent STOV recalls.

Havoc UTV Recall by Textron Off Road

Textron Off Road Havoc
Some 2019 Textron Off Road Havoc UTVs are being recalled because of a fuel line issue.

Textron Off Road recently announced the recall of approximately 200 model year 2019 Havoc utility vehicles. Fuel can leak from the fuel line and pose a fire hazard. The two-seat UTVs were sold from October 2018 through January 2019. Consumers should stop using the vehicles and contact an Arctic Cat dealer to schedule a free repair. The following recall information is from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Havoc Recall Information

Name of product: Havoc off-highway utility vehicles (ROVs)

Hazard: Fuel can leak from the fuel line, posing a fire hazard.

Remedy: Repair

Recall date: March 5, 2019

Units: About 200

Consumer Contact: Arctic Cat at 800-279-6851 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online and click on Recall Information located at the bottom of the page for more information.

Recall Details

Description: This recall involves Model Year 2019 Textron Havoc off-highway utility vehicles manufactured by Arctic Cat. The two-seat vehicles come in three color combinations: Charcoal metallic/black, red/black or white/black. The vehicles have Textron Off Road printed on each side of the hood and Havoc on each side of the rear cargo box. Vehicle identification numbers (VIN) ending in 9007497 through 9007717 are included in this recall. The VIN is stamped under the vehicle’s front hood. 

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact Arctic Cat to schedule a free repair. Arctic Cat is contacting all known purchasers directly.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported

Sold at: Textron Off Road and Arctic Cat dealers nationwide from October 2018 through January 2019 for between $14,000 and $18,000.

Manufacturer(s): Arctic Cat Inc., of Thief River Falls, Minn., a subsidiary of Textron Specialized Vehicles, of Augusta, Ga.

Manufactured In: United StatesRecall number:19-726

SVR’s Take

This is a minor recall, but does again involve an issue with the fuel lines or fuel system. There have been at least six recalls from across the industry since early 2015 that involve fuel system problems. SVR maintains an ongoing list of recent STOV recalls.

Kawasaki Mule Pro Recall

Kawasaki Mule Pro
Kawasaki is recalling some Mule Pro UTVs because of an issue with the ROPS.

In December, Kawasaki announced the recall of approximately 1,000 Mule Pro utility vehicles. The vehicle’s ROPS can fail to protect occupants. The recall involves model year 2018 and 2019 Mule Pro DXT, DX, FXT, FX and FXR vehicles sold from August to September of 2018. The following are recall details from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Recall Information

Hazard: The vehicle’s rollover protection structure (ROPS) can fail to protect consumers, posing an injury hazard.

Remedy: Repair

Recall date: December 6, 2018

Units: About 1,000

Remedy: Repair

Recall Date: December 6, 2018

Units: About 1,000

Consumer Contact: Kawasaki toll-free at 866-802-9381 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at www.Kawasaki.com and click on “Recalls” for more information.

Recall Details

Description: This recall involves 2018 and 2019 Mule Pro utility vehicles.  The four-wheel, off-highway utility vehicles were sold in black, green, white, red, bronze, silver, camo and blue. They have side by side seating for three to six people and automotive style controls. Mule Pro is printed on the right and left front fender. Kawasaki is printed on the cargo box. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is located on the steel frame between the right front lower A-arm mounts. 

Models Affected

Year       ModelModel CodeVin Range
2018Mule Pro-DXT (EPS)KAF1000AJFJKAAFCA1XJB501117 through JKAAFCA11JB501152 
2018Mule Pro-DXT (EPS)KAF1000BJF JKAAFCB18JB503625 through JKAAFCB18JB503642 
2018Mule Pro-DX (EPS)KAF1000EJF JKAAFCE1XJB502410 through JKAAFCE18JB502437 
2019Mule Pro-FXT(EPS/LE/Camo/Ranch)KAF820AKF JKBAFSA13KB501645 through JKBAFSA14KB501671 
2019Mule Pro-FXT(EPS/LE/Camo/Ranch)KAF820BKF JKBAFSB15KB513858 through JKBAFSB18KB514230 
2019Mule Pro-FXT(EPS/LE/Camo/Ranch)KAF820CKF JKBAFSC19KB513036 through JKBAFSC19KB513361 
2019Mule Pro-FXT(EPS/LE/Camo/Ranch)KAF820DKF JKBAFSD18KB506741 through JKBAFSD1XKB506787 
2019Mule Pro-FX (EPS/LE)KAF820FKF JKBAFSF13KB506336 through JKBAFSF10KB506603 
2019Mule Pro-FX (EPS/LE)KAF820GKF JKBAFSG18KB504354 through JKBAFSG1XKB504355 
2019Mule Pro-FXTKAF820JKF JKBAFSJ19KB508972 through JKBAFSJ15KB509343 
2019Mule Pro-FXRKAF820KKF JKBAFSK14KB504620 through JKBAFSK17KB504630 

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled utility vehicles and contact a Kawasaki dealer to schedule a free repair. Kawasaki is contacting all known purchasers directly.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported

Sold At: Kawasaki dealers nationwide from August 2018 through September 2018 for between $13,000 and $17,000.

Importer(s): Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. of Foothill Ranch, Calif.

Distributor(s): Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. of Foothill Ranch, Calif.

Manufactured In: U.S.

Recall number: 19-722

SVR’s Take

This is a pretty small recall. Although, it is one of the few that involves the ROPS. The only other ROPS recall SVR has tracked since early 2015 involved the https://www.smallvehicleresource.com/blog/2018/09/05/polaris-recalls-rzr-xp-turbo-s-utvs/2018 RZR XP Turbo S. SVR keeps an ongoing list of most STOV related recalls.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresuource.com

PTVs at the 2019 PGA Show

StarEV Sirius 2 PTV personal mobility
The Sirius 2 from Star Electric Vehicles is one of a number of PTV offerings at the 2019 PGA Show.

My colleague Steve Metzger recently attended the 2019 PGA Show. He reports on the trends in personal mobility vehicles from established and new players. In addition, he discusses the mainstreaming of lithium batteries and related implications. The following is a summary of key insights from the article.

  • The personal mobility market in the form of personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) is attracting an increased level of product development.
  • The major fleet golf car manufacturers, Club Car, E-Z-GO and Yamaha are turning their attention to PTVs and other non-golf markets.
  • New models incorporate a greater variety of features and more automotive style features
  • The Sirius PTV from Star Electric Vehicles is the most likely candidate to seriously challenge offerings from Club Car, E-Z-GO and Yamaha.
  • Club Car introduced lithium battery powered models and other manufacturers are considering the technology as well
  • Both Trojan Battery and ReLion Battery presented lithium batteries targeting the aftermarket for PTVs, golf cars and light-duty utility vehicles
  • Lithium battery market penetration has implications for the recycling of fleet golf cars, used PTVs and future demand for public road access for PTVs
  • EFI engine technology continues to advance in the face of improving battery technology as market choice will likely increase before a winner shakes out
  • Potential California LSV legislation could become a model for other states and a market driver
  • Product engineers may drive the market in the next 3 to 5 years

Learn more: Smallvehicleresource.com (Full article)

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Should Polaris Acquire Club Car?

Club Car Tempo
The Tempo, Club Car’s fleet golf car introduced in 2018.

A recent article speculated that Ingersoll-Rand’s acquisition of Precision Flow Systems could pave the way breaking up the conglomerate. Club Car is one of the pieces that seems a poor fit with the rest of Ingersoll-Rand. If this is the case, then Polaris Industries might be a good suitor.

The Pros for Acquiring Club Car

A strong international brand

Club Car has a number of characteristics that match previous Polaris acquisitions. First, Club Car is a leading brand, if not, the leading brand of the three major golf car manufacturers. Second, it is an international brand. Third, Club Car participates, in part, in a fragmented industry. Therefore, Polaris would have an opportunity to use their resources to establish a more dominate market position. While the golf car fleet market is primarily a three company affair, Club Car, E-Z-GO and Yamaha, the non-fleet personal transportation vehicle (PTV) and light utility vehicle markets are more fragmented markets. Fourth, a large installed base of vehicles forms the basis for a substantial parts and accessories business. This was a key reason for the Polaris purchase of Taylor-Dunn.

Club Car complements Polaris vehicle portfolio

A large portion of Club Car vehicles sold are electric and would fit well with the Polaris EV portfolio. Other EVs in the Polaris portfolio include GEM, Goupil, Taylor-Dunn and Aixam. Polaris could spread their battery and EV powertrain development costs over a larger number of vehicles. In addition, Club Car’s end markets and distribution network would complement current efforts by Polaris. Their PTVs would complement the street legal GEM vehicles and their light utility vehicles would complement the more heavy-duty Rangers.

In addition, the golf manufacturer’s dealer network would expand Polaris’ footprint. While there is some overlap with the GEM and Taylor-Dunn dealer networks, there would also be a large number of additional dealer locations in the US and internationally. Furthermore, these dealers could be used to expand the GEM and Taylor-Dunn distribution. Club Car end markets such as golf courses, resorts, colleges, airports and other institutions would also take Polaris into new markets or broaden their vehicle offerings where they overlap.

The Cons for Acquiring Club Car

Is there enough growth?

Polaris looks for acquisitions in growing markets and/or traditionally strong but neglected brands that they can leverage. In the case of Club Car, the fleet golf car market has been declining for a number of years. The PTV and light UTV markets are growing but not at really high rates and are a smaller part of the business. Club Car isn’t necessarily a neglected brand but is somewhat lost among much larger Ingersoll-Rand businesses. In contrast, Polaris might be able to focus more attention and resources and make a strong brand even stronger.

Another acquisition to swallow

Polaris has already made a number of acquisitions in the past year, adding Boat Holdings and the Marquis-Larson Boat Group to start a new boating business. Acquiring Club Car would require more management time and focus to successfully integrate the business into Polaris. In addition, the purchase would likely add additional debt to their balance sheet. Polaris management might want to finish integrating their recent acquisitions before adding another piece and avoid increasing their debt.

What Will Polaris Do?

A strong argument could be made that Polaris should acquire Club Car if it’s for sale. The key questions are whether the management perceives if there is enough growth in the market, and do they think they can use their resources to drive more growth. The combination of the PTV and light UTV markets along with the parts and accessories business may offer enough potential. Timing may also be an issue. Any down turn in the economy, which some are predicting, would hurt Polaris. Discretionary income drives a significant portion of their sales.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Polaris Reports Another Strong Quarter

2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS
The 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS in Sunset Red Metallic is part of the Ranger product line that recently commemorated its 20th anniversary.

Polaris Q4 2018 Earnings Overview

Polaris reported another strong quarter and full year with 4th quarter sales of $1.6 billion, up 14% from last year. Full year sales topped $6.1 billion, up 12% from the prior year. The ORV/Snowmobile segment reported sales of $1.1 billion for the quarter, an increase of 7% year over year. The ORV portion declined 2% as the company had a tough comparable with the prior year’s quarter. On a negative note, management expects tariff and trade war costs to total between $110 to $120 million company wide for fiscal year 2019. They will hit the ORV and Motorcycle businesses the hardest. A significant portion of the Q&A on the call revolved around tariff and trade war costs. A summary of the earnings call highlights related to the STOV market follow.

Polaris Earnings Call Highlights

  • Polaris side-by-side retail sales increased mid single digits % while ATV retail sales decreased mid single digits %
  • Average selling price for the ORV segment increased by 7% but were partially offset by tariff, logistics, and commodity costs
  • Polaris gained market share in the side-by-side market for the quarter and the full year
  • Management believes they are gaining share from Japanese competitors and Arctic Cat, now owned by Textron
  • Global Adjacent Markets revenue increased 4% to $122 million on the strength of commercial, government and defense and Aixam businesses.
  • Polaris increased wholegood prices 3.5% for the ORV/Snowmobile segment at the start of 2019 to counter tariff and trade costs
  • Revenue for ORV/Snowmobile and Global Adjacent Markets segments are expected to increase mid-single digits % for fiscal year 2019
  • Management does not expect to enter into electric powered markets until there is large consumer demand. Their response pertained to motorcycles but appears to be their general philosophy.

Learn more: Earnings Call Transcript (seeking alpha.com)

PGA Show STOV Trends

Cushman Hauler 800 ELiTE
The new Cushman Hauler 800 ELiTE from Textron is powered by lithium batteries.

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

Textron Expands ELiTE Vehicle Lineup

Cushman Hauler 800 ELiTE
The new Cushman Hauler 800 ELiTE from Textron is powered by lithium batteries.

Textron Specialized Vehicles Launches Hauler 800 ELiTE Electric UTV

Textron Specialized Vehicles launched the Cushman Hauler 800 ELiTE electric powered utility vehicles. Samsung SDI lithium technology powers the ELiTE series. The Cushman Hauler 800 and 800X will feature the lithium battery pack. Textron is targeting golf course superintendents with these models.

ELiTE Powertrain

The Hauler 800 and 800X ELiTE powertrains feature a 48-volt AC drive with a 11.7 hp (peak) motor and two zero maintenance lithium ion batteries. In comparison, the existing electric Hauler 800 and 800X have a 48-volt AC drive with 4.4 hp continues motor and six deep cycle batteries.

Learn more: Textron.com

SVR’s Take

Textron’s initial introduction of the ELiTE lithium batteries in fleet golf cars was successful. As a result, utility vehicles used on golf courses are a logical extension of the program. Furthermore, from a macro market perspective, Textron is the first major manufacturer in the STOV market to make a strong push with lithium powered vehicles. While others have offered lithium batteries as an option on some vehicles, Textron is the first to incorporate them into key models.

Where is the Competition on Lithium Batteries?

Polaris diverse lineup sprinkled with lithium models

With the 2017 acquisition of Arctic Cat, Textron Specialized Vehicle business became an even more direct competitor with Polaris. Polaris has been active in the electric vehicle market for years. They invested in Brammo, and acquired Goupil in France and GEM and Taylor-Dunn in the US. However, to date, Polaris has not made a big push into lithium powered utility vehicles in the US. GEM vehicles have an option and the European based Goupil offers two lithium battery pack options for many models. Polaris briefly offered their Ranger EV with a lithium pack but the model was significantly more expensive. Their volume in fleet golf cars provides Textron with an advantage over Polaris when introducing lithium powered models.

Club Car enters the fray

At the recent 2019 PGA Show Club Car introduced its lithium powered fleet vehicle, the Tempo. According to sources, they are likely to introduce a lithium powered version of their Onward PTV later in the year. Like Textron, Club Car will have the advantage of production volume through fleet sales. They likely will follow suit and offer lithium powered utility vehicles in the future. A smaller manufacturer likely to follow the trend is STAR Electric Vehicles.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com