Tropos Motors and Panasonic Partner

Able pickup CUV from Tropos Motors
The Able electric compact utility vehicle from Tropos Motors in a pickup configuration.
Tropos Motors Able XR CUV
The Tropos Motors Able XR model with a view of the lithium battery packs.

Panasonic is partnering with electric compact utility vehicle manufacturer Tropos Motors to improve vehicle performance. Tropos Motors manufacturers the Able and Able XR electric compact utility vehicles that are low speed and electric powered. The Able features a 72V system with a 13 hp motor and gel lead acid batteries for a 50 mile range. In contrast, the Able XR uses lithium batteries in a 96V system with a 13 hp motor and a range of up to 160 miles.

Compact Utility Vehicle Niche

The electric compact utility vehicle (CUV) is part of the “right-sizing” trend in commercial vehicles. Smaller than a full-size pickup but larger and more capable than a modified golf car, CUVs are designed to be the right tool for the job. Or, in many cases, multiple jobs. In particular, they are useful on college and corporate campuses and urban environments where their smaller size is an advantage and a high top speed is less critical. Like many CUVs, a user has the option of limiting the Able models top speed to 25 mph. Therefore, with the proper safety options, they can be classified as street legal low speed vehicles.

Tropos Motors Capable and Versatile

Tropos Motors Able CUV trades package
The Tropos Motors Able CUV with the trades bed package.

The Able lineup has 1,100 lbs of payload capacity for the street version and 2,000 lbs for the campus version. Similarly, the towing capacity is 2,000 lbs and 3,000 lbs. Clearly they are capable of hauling and towing for a wide range of applications. Like many CUVs the Able lineup is versatile with their Easy-Swap system of bed packages to perform a wide range of on campus tasks. The bed packages include a pickup style, boxed van for hauling cargo, trades/maintenance configuration for carrying tools, a special sweeper package and a trio of emergency services packages.

Green and Cost Efficient

By virtue of their electric powertrains, electric CUVs can help organizations meet their sustainability goals while limiting air and noise pollution on campus. These smaller vehicles usually have a lower cost of purchase. Furthermore, the electric drive train also produces a lower cost of operation.

SVR’s Take

Currently, Tropos Motors is a relatively small manufacturer but landing Panasonic as a partner is big deal. What could be an important factor in the growth of this niche is the decreasing cost of lithium batteries. Partnering with Panasonic gives Trompos Motors access to a high volume lithium battery manufacturer. The trade-off between the range, performance and reduced maintenance of lithium batteries and their higher costs is key. As the price comes down, a wider set of applications become possible and less frequent re-charging is needed. The latter may also translate into less charging infrastructure needed. Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Tariffs Affect STOV Market

Polaris 2019 RZR S4 1000 EPS
Tariffs have hit Polaris, the manufacturer of UTVs like the 2019 RZR S4 1000 EPS shown here, hard.

Tariffs Hit Polaris Hard

In a recent interview with CNBC Polaris CEO Scott Wine commented on the affects of the tariffs on the company. He stated that the increase to 25% would be “catastrophic”. The company previously estimated  that they would cost the company $40 million in the last fiscal year. At the 10% tariff level they were guiding towards an approximately $90 million hit for the current fiscal year. However, at the 25% level that would jump to $195 to $200 million. In addition to these China specific tariffs, other aluminum and steel tariffs hurt the company as well.

Polaris More Exposed

Polaris is in a particularly tough spot with the tariffs because of their supply chain relative to the other major UTV manufacturers. The major Japanese OEMs, Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki, mainly source their imported parts from Japan and thus avoid the onerous China tariffs. Can-Am produces products in Canada and Mexico and therefore, are less exposed to the tariff regime as well. Polaris on the other hand sources more of their components from China.

Farmer Segment Exposure

UTV manufacturers exposed to the farm segment are likely to suffer as well. Farmers report lower commodity prices and higher equipment prices. The tariffs are increasing farm equipment prices in the range of 20% according to some farmers. Although this refers to large pieces of farming equipment, if farmers are not spending on these large pieces and trying to cut costs in general, they are likely forgoing UTV purchases as well. John Deere and Kubota are likely the most effected brands as this is a strong segment for them. However, Can-Am could possibly be feeling an impact in their Defender line and Polaris in their Ranger line.

Some Value Brands Vulnerable

In the past few years value brands have made inroads at the lower end of the price scale. Many of these companies are sourcing parts or vehicles from China. For example, CFMOTO is based in China. In addition, Cub Cadet UTVs are manufactured by Hisun in China. Given their value pricing approach, the tariffs are likely putting some pressure on these companies. If they have to raise their prices too much, they lose their value proposition in relation to the major brands in the market.

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

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

Tariff Questions Dominate Polaris Earnings Call

Polaris 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS 20th anniversary

The 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS 20th Anniversary edition helped drive sales despite tariff concerns.

Financial Results Overview

Tariff questions dominated the Polaris Industries earnings call to discuss their Q3 financial results for fiscal year 2018. The manufacturer of the RZR, Ranger and General side-by-sides reported adjusted revenue of $1,653 million, an increase of 12% from $1,480 million from third quarter 2017. Net income increased 21% from $98 million to $118 million. (Financial figures are compared to Q3 2017 unless noted)

STOV Segments Perform Solidly

Overall ORV/Snow segment revenue increased 3% from $1,007 million to $1,036 million. Lower snowmobile revenue was more than offset by a 12% increase in ORV revenue. ORV includes UTVs and ATVs. North American (NA) retail sales, driven by side-by-side sales, increased 1% in the quarter against a tough comparable. In comparison, management estimated that industry wide NA ORV sales improved low single digits for the quarter. Polaris side-by-side market share for the quarter remained the same.

The average selling price of ORVs overall increased 5%. Management reports that the initial launch of the 2019 model year was successful with good response from consumers and dealers. In particular, the new Ranger XP 1000 variants drove sales. Furthermore, the company’s inventory management system, RFM, is producing results with the best side-by-side delivery performance to date. In addition, lower promotional costs accompanied the stronger sales. Comments on individual markets indicated that the oil and gas customer segment improved while agriculture decreased some.

Global Adjacent Markets Gain

The Global Adjacent Markets (GAM) segment made solid gains as well. Sales increased 5% from $92 to $98 million. This segment includes vehicle sales to commercial, government and defense clients in addition to Aixam quadricycle sales in Europe. In addition, the GAM segment includes vehicles like Ranger and Brutus UTVs, military RZRs, GEM electric vehicles, Taylor-Dunn industrial vehicles and Goupil electric vehicles based in France. Management reported solid sales for  Goupil vehicles and strong orders from fire and police departments, and other government agencies.

ORV and GAM Drive International Growth

Sales to international markets jumped 10% with a strong showing from the ORV/Snow segment, up 9%, and the GAM segment, up 6%. Looking at sales by region, the Europe and Middle East drove overall international sales while Latin America increased only slightly and the Asia Pacific region decreased.

Full Year Guidance Improves

Polaris increased their guidance for the ORV/Snow segment. They now expect a low double digit increase in sales.The GAM segment should increase sales by low double digits, which is unchanged from previous guidance.

Tariff Impacts

Tariff impacts raised expenses by $8 million for the quarter and are expected to total $40 million for the year. The renegotiated NAFTA deal, the USMCA, is expected to have a neutral effect. However, the 301 tariffs, especially the upcoming List 3 tariffs could have more severe repercussions. Currently, the company is dealing with List 1 and List 2 tariff impacts. Polaris is at a disadvantage related to 301 List tariffs because their main competitors produce their vehicles in Mexico or assemble them in the US using Japanese parts. Therefore, these companies are not subject to the same tariffs.

Tariff Mitigation Plans

Management laid out a three pronged approach to mitigating the potential List 301 tariffs. First, they will try to negotiate with their suppliers to share some of the increased costs. Second, they may increase prices. Thirdly, they hope to lobby the current administration to obtain an exemption from the tariffs. Polaris argues that the tariffs are primarily hurting them, but they are the only US based manufacturer among the major players in the market. Furthermore, the company has been increasing their US based manufacturing. At this time, Polaris is not providing any specific quantitative guidance for tariff impacts for 2019.

Other Future Factors

For the powersports market in general, management expects that there will be a need to increase pricing to offset inflation, tariff impacts and increasing commodity and logistics costs. Furthermore, management stated, “As the industry leader, we’re not afraid to lead on price.”

The newly launched Factory Choice program, which gives the customers and dealers an opportunity to make differentiated vehicles from the factory and has been popular, gives Polaris optimism. The program should help drive sales in the future.

The dealer inventory profiles produced under the RFM program this year for side-by-sides significantly improved product availability. The increased availability bolstered sales, raising similar expectations moving forward.

Learn more:  Polaris Earnings Call Transcript (Seekingalpha.com)

SVR’s Take

This was another solid quarter for Polaris. The sales increases for side-by-sides were not gangbusters at first glance, but they are being compared to a really strong third quarter in 2017. The new 2019 vehicle lineup should drive sales more fully in the fourth quarter. The GAM segment is slowly growing into a significant business and could become a $500 billion business in about two years. On a cautionary note, the tariff impacts could slow progress for Polaris, especially in contrast to fast growing and Canadian based Can-Am. Increased pricing could potentially hurt sales, although as a premium brand Polaris can pass on some pricing. The other alternative is that they will take hit to their margins and generate less income.

 

 

Eli Electric Vehicles Launches Eli Zero NEV

Eli Zero NEV

The new Eli Zero NEV from Eli Electric vehicles is expected to reach market in late 2018.

Eli Electric Vehicles is launching a new NEV, the Eli Zero, with the intention to”…fundamentally shift how people engage with modern communities and urban environments.” The company, which is co-headquartered in Long Beach, CA and Beijing, China where the vehicles are manufactured, is now taking reservations for the Eli Zero. The plan is to deliver the first 100 vehicles by the end of 2018. The first 100 customers reserving a vehicle will receive a discount of $2,200 off the expected MSRP of $9,900 to $10,900. The vehicles are targeting the urban mobility space. The base model is expected to have a 55 mile range and the Plus model with a larger battery will have an 85 mile range. The Eli Zero will be using Samsung 18650 lithium cells in the battery pack. Like all NEVs the top speed is limited to 25 mph. Key features of the Eli Zero include:

  • 2-passenger seating plus cargo area behind the seats
  • AC asynchronous motor
  • 48V system
  • 6.0 kWh or 8.3 kWh battery packs
  • Toyota MCU
  • Vehicle Management System that monitors data, malfunctions and energy optimization
  • High-tensile aluminum frame
  • Doors made from a single sheet of thermoplastic-reinforced tempered glass
  • 877 lb/904 lb curb weight for the Base/Plus models
  • Four wheel disk brakes
  • Regenerative braking
  • Cruise control
  • Wide field of vision from the drivers position
  • 24 ft. turning circle
  • Driver proximity detection system to automatically unlock doors
  • LED signal lighting
  • Sunroof
  • Anti-theft system
  • Press to start
  • Multi-function dashboard control dial and LED dashboard display
  • Bluetooth
  • Radio
  • Heat and AC and Defrost
  • Adjustable driver’s seat

Learn more:  NewAtlas.com and Eli.world.

SVR’s Take:  The Eli Zero appears to be a step above the current NEVs on the market in terms of technology and design. The question is whether that is appealing enough to enough consumers. NEVs have consistently fallen short of market expectations in the consumer segment even though a strong argument can be made for their use based on efficiency, appropriateness for urban mobility, size and impact on the environment. An issue in the urban environment is that if a consumer can only own one car will they make it an NEV limited to low speed roads when they can spend several thousand dollars more and have a more versatile highway capable vehicle.

In gated, summer or other communities with widespread use of lower speed vehicles, NEVs are typically the most expensive option. Other available options include used golf cars, refurbished golf cars and new golf cars which can all be customized to a fairly high degree for the same price as an NEV or be equipped with less and cost significantly less. A large swath of that market elects to own less expensive golf cars. From my experience, NEVs have been most successful in these types communities where local regulations are most restrictive regarding the use of golf cars. Perhaps the design and tech of the Eli Zero will have enough appeal to make it a primary choice in a wider range of communities.

In the urban environment NEVs will more likely have a greater appeal where their is a shared fleet of vehicles. In this situation the consumer isn’t making an ownership choice but a ride choice. Do they really need to ride in a highway capable vehicle for a short intra-city trip or will a NEV, likely for a lower cost, be more than sufficient and better for the environment?

Marc Cesare, SVR

Eicher Polaris JV Shut Down

Eicher Polaris Multix

The Multix utility vehicle, the first offering from the Eicher-Polaris joint venture.

Eicher Polaris, the joint venture between Eicher Motors of India and Polaris Industries and the manufacturer of the Multix small, task-oriented vehicle, has been shut down due to poor sales. Eicher reported that initial interest in the Multix was good but could not be sustained over the long term, especially in the rural markets. The Multix was marketed as India’s first personal utility vehicle that could be used to carry passengers or cargo. The vehicle was designed with flexibility in mind from the beginning so that it could be used as a work vehicle, a family vehicle and even a power generator for the home in rural communities.

The joint venture formed in 2012 and the vehicle launched in 2015 after a significant amount of money and resources were put into market research and product development. Management initially expected sales of 10,000 to 12,000 units that would grow to 100,000 units annually. However, the joint venture showed signs of difficulty by early 2017 and management adjusted their marketing strategy and put more resources into the effort including adding more dealers. These efforts targeted the original market, the rural customer, but failed to make inroads. Later in the year, the joint venture steered in a new direction and started targeting urban customers. Apparently this strategy did not produce enough results. Eicher and Polaris spent an estimated $60 million to bring the vehicle to market. For the last full year ending March 31, 2017 the Eicher Polaris JV reported a loss of approximately $14 million. Some people attributed the lack of adoption to conservative attitudes of the rural customer base that may have been unwilling try such a new vehicle concept.  Learn more: Autoindia.com

SVR’s Take:  This must be a disappointment for Polaris. A lot of time, effort and resources were put into the joint venture and the vehicle. If successful, the Multix would have been a nice addition to the Polaris international portfolio of small, task-oriented vehicle lineups like Aixam, Goupil, GEM and Taylor-Dunn. The Multix would have given them a foothold in the large and growing Indian commercial/work vehicle market and served as a potential jumping off point to export to other countries in the region. Polaris is intent on growing international sales and it is hard to believe they would abandon the Indian and Southeast Asia STOV markets altogether. One option may be to acquire an existing manufacturer.

Garia Golf Car Inspired By Mercedes Benz Style Premieres

Garia Golf Car Mecedes-Benz Style

The Garia Golf Car inspired by Mercedes-Benz Style is now available in limited edition release.

Garia aluminum rims

14″ black aluminum wheels with diamond-cut elements add style.

outdoor touchpad

The 10″ outdoor touchpad display is paired with bluetooth connectivity.

Under the moniker “The coolest golf car ever”, Garia premiered their Garia Golf Car inspired by Mercedes Benz Style at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. Priced at $73,000, the two-seat Golf Car is the height of luxury and available for a limited edition release.

What makes a $73,000 golf car? You can start with unique styling unlike any other golf car that is a product of Garia’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz. This includes 14″, five spoke, black aluminum rims with diamond cut elements, uniquely designed headlights, carbon fiber accents, as well as Garia and Mercedes-Benz Style logos prominently placed around the vehicle.

The vehicle is handmade including hand-stitched leather “lounge” seats and Mansory carbon fiber parts like the black leather lined roof.The electric powertrain features a 10.24 kWh lithium battery pack good for a 50 mile range and a 70 km/hr top speed that can be limited to 25 mph to meet LSV regulations. For electronics the Golf Car features a 10.1″ outdoor touch screen that displays the scoreboard, bluetooth connection with hands-free streaming, and speakers in the roof and seat interior. Other amenities include a built-in refrigerator, water-proof leather, grab handles, dual size cup-holders and a tray for golf balls and tees. If you are interested, a $1,000 deposit is required to place an order. Learn more: Garia.com

SVR’s Take:  While I’m sure Garia would be happy to sell a bunch of these golf cars that’s not really the point. They are trying to fortify their image as not only a luxury golf car manufacturer but as THE luxury golf car manufacturer. In addition, the design pushes the concept of the golf car away from traditional golf cars and more towards automobiles. With the future of transportation alternatives in flux, this could be helpful in positioning Garia vehicles more towards the personal transportation end of the spectrum as opposed to the golf car end. If niches develop for lower speed urban transportation would you want a vehicle that looks like a golf car or an automobile? From a more current standpoint, elements from the Golf Car will likely find their way into some of Garia’s other lower-priced but still luxurious golf cars.

Marc Cesare, SVR

Polaris Q4 2017 Earnings

2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS

The 2018 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS helped drive sales for the quarter and the year.

Polaris Industries reported quarterly revenue of $1.431 billion and annual revenue of $5.429 billion, representing increases of 18% and 20% respectively compared to last year. Adjusted earnings per share for the quarter increased 25% driven by higher volume, lower promotional spend and operating expense leverage. For the year a 39% increase in earnings per share was driven by a combination of increased volume, an improvement in gross margins and a lower tax rate.

The following are highlights of the earnings call related to small, task-oriented vehicles.

  • ORV sales increased 14% in Q4 and 9% for the year
  • Average ORV selling price was up 4% for the quarter
  • ORV retail was up for the year but down for the 4th quarter as retail unit sales of Off-Road Vehicles were down just under 1%
  • Ranger sales were up for the quarter with strong demand for the new Ranger XP 1000 lineup
  • RZR sales declined for the quarter driven by “tapped demand and limited product availability”
  • For the quarter the ramp up of Ranger and RZR production was slower than expected in part attributed to the new quality initiative. This manifested as a production issue with a four-wheel drive component on the Ranger XP 1000, which was originally not up to the company’s quality standard.
  • Continued roll out RFM inventory and ordering system for side-by-sides and should be fully optimized by the second quarter
  • North American industry side-by-side growth was strong in Q4 but ATVs down.
  • Utility side of ORV is expected to grow but there is stiff competition on the RZR side which will not grow as much as competition increases
  • Agriculture markets were down in the fourth quarter and oil markets were up slightly, but there was no “substantial shift” in buying patterns.
  • In the side-by-side market decreased pricing is offset somewhat by decreased promotional costs and there is some commodity pricing pressures
  • Australia was a strong market as buyers switch from ATVs to UTVs
  • Global Adjacent Markets sales increased 19% in the fourth quarter, driven by strong growth in Aixam and Goupil, as well as continued strong sales growth in Government and Defense
  • For the year Global Adjacent Markets revenue reached almost $400 million including PG&A
  • Average selling price for Adjacent Markets increasing 14% for the quarter
  • For the full year Global Adjacent Markets sales increased 16% with all business lines growing
  • In Europe there is strong demand for small, inner-city delivery vehicles including electrics and that demand is increasing in the US as well
  • “More autonomous activities with both the military and Taylor-Dunn platforms than anywhere else in the company”

Guidance for 2018

  • Total company sales are expected to be up in the range of 3% to 5% with ORV market expected to be up
  • ORV market share is expected to be stable with continued momentum from Ranger and General product lines
  • ORV/Snowmobile sales are expected to be up low to mid-single digits with Snow about flat and ORV and PG&A sales up
  • Global Adjacent Markets sales are expected to be up mid single-digit percent with growth expected in all businesses.
  • The new long-term strategic targets for the company as a whole are 5% compounded annual growth rate for revenues and 15% for earnings
  • Management will be focusing on cost leadership more while maintaining innovation

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings Call Transcript)

Tata Ace Mini-truck Reaches 2 Million Vehicle Milestone

Tata Motors Tata Ace Mega

The Tata Ace Mega is one variant of the popular mini-truck from Tata Motors.

Tata Motors of India recently announced that the 2 millionth Tata Ace mini-truck had been sold. The company reached the milestone in 12 years. The Tata Ace is popular in India and other Southeast Asia countries where mini-trucks and a host of other small vehicles are used for “last mile” transportation in a spoke and hub system. According to Tata management the company controls 65% of the mini-truck market. Other players in the market include Mahindra with their Jeeto vehicle and Piaggio with their Porter 700.

The Tata Ace platform has grown into over a dozen offerings since being launched in 2005. The Tata Ace family includes brands like Ace, Zip, Mega and Mint for cargo transport and Magic, Mantra and Iris for passenger transport. The vehicles come in a range of engine power, engine type and body configurations to fit a wide spectrum of end-use applications in urban to rural settings. For example they offer the Super Ace Mint with a suction machine for sewage and manhole cleaning and other models are specifically designed for use as food trucks. Small scale transporters and entrepreneurs are the main target customers for these vehicles.

Mini-trucks are not as popular in the United States, in part, because the do not meet safety and emissions regulations for on road use. There are about a dozen states that allow them limited access to roads with a speed restriction typically in the 25 mph to 35 mph range. They are more popular in some farming communities where they have served as a utility vehicle for use off-road or on road moving between fields. To a large degree the UTV has functionally become the US version of the mini-truck.   Learn more: Tatamotors.com

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com