Road Use Regulation Roundup – October 2019

golf cart sign

Road Use Regulation Summary

Road use regulations for golf cars, LSVs, ATVs and UTVs that have been passed or are being considered at the state, county and city levels since June, 2019 are summarized below.

  • The majority of the ordinances expand the use of golf cars, LSVs, or UTVs on city streets.
  • Most of the legislative activity is occurring in the Midwest

Road Use Regulation By Location

Wisconsin – Title fees for low speed vehicles will increase from $62 to $157, similar to other vehicles.

Barnegat Light, NJ – The Council, after earlier tabling an ordinance that would allow the use of golf cars on certain city streets, have decided to not pursue the issue further. A critical issue was that the vehicles would have to cross a higher speed road, which would require an exception to state law.

Brazil, IN – Residents registered nearly 100 golf carts and off-road UTVs since an ordinance passed in February, 2019.

Wakefield, IN – The City Council is considering an ordinance to allow golf cars on certain city streets. The police chief and a councilman are looking at similar ordinances and potentially expanding the ordinance to other types of vehicles.

Paola, KS – Starting in January, 2020 residents will be able to drive UTVs on city streets with posted speed limits that are 45 mph or less. Regulations require that vehicles have lights, turn signals and reflectors, drivers have a valid license and vehicles be registered.

St. Joseph, MI – The city commissioners are considering allowing residents to drive golf cars on city streets in the Harbor Shores, Edgewater and Ridgeway neighborhoods.

Newport, RI – The Newport Jitney provides free, advertiser supported rides around town on two low-speed vehicles that seat six and eight passengers.

Glynn County, GA – A new county ordinance goes into effect in October that will allow golf cars on certain streets. The ordinance has different regulations for LSVs vs. PTVs. A key difference is that LSVs can travel on streets with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less while PTVs can travel only on 25 mph or less streets.

Perry Village, OH – The Village Council passed an ordinance to allow LSVs, golf cars, UTVs and mini-trucks to be driven on local low speed streets. The vehicles must be inspected, licensed and have certain safety equipment.

Yamaha Golf Car Recalls Vehicles

Yamaha UMAX TWO
The 2019 UMAX TWO is one of the vehicle Yamaha Golf Car is recalling.

Yamaha Golf Car Recall Overview

Yamaha Golf Car is recalling approximately 16,000 vehicles because of an issue with the USB port creates a fire hazard. The recall involves model year 2017 through 2019 vehicles including Drive2 fleet, Adventurer Two and some UMAX models. The recall affects both electric and gas powered models. The following recall details are from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Yamaha Golf Car Recall Details

Name of product: Yamaha golf cars, personal transportation and specialty vehicles

Hazard: The module that regulates power to the vehicle’s USB ports can overheat and melt, posing a fire hazard.

Remedy: Repair

Recall date: August 28, 2019

Units: 16,000

Consumer contact: Yamaha toll-free at 866-747-4027 anytime or online at www.yamahagolfcar.com and click on “CPSC Recall Alerts” for more information.

Description: This recall involves the following model year 2016 through 2018 gas and electric-powered golf cars, personal transportation and specialty vehicles. The vehicles were sold in various colors including blue, green, red, white, tan and silver. The model and serial number can be found on a label under the seat on the left or right side.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the USB charging device in the recalled vehicles and contact a Yamaha golf car dealer to schedule a free repair. Yamaha is contacting all registered owners directly..

Incidents/Injuries: Yamaha has received five reports of associated fire incidents and 100 reports of a melted USB voltage-reducer module. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At:Exclusively at Yamaha golf car dealers nationwide from June 2016 through June 2019 for between $6,000 and $11,000.

Manufacturer(s): Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, of Newnan, Ga.

Distributor(s): Yamaha Golf-Car Company, of Kennesaw, Ga.

Assembled in: U.S.

Recall number: 19-774

SVR’s Take

Yamaha recalled some of these vehicles previously because of an issue with the accelerator pedal. While this recall is large, given Yamaha Golf Cars’ total sales, it is small in comparison to that previous recall which involved 145,000 vehicles. Smallvehicleresource.com maintains a list of small, task-oriented vehicle recalls.

Club Car Fuel Leak Recalls

Club Car Recall Summary

Club Car Onward 2 Passenger
One of the models Club Car is recall is the gas powered Onward.

Club Car recently announced a pair of recalls involving potential fuel leaks. The recalls apply to a range of models and includes approximately 12,000 vehicles in the US and Canada. The first recall includes Precedent, Tempo, Onward and Villager gas powered vehicles. Fuel can potentially leak from an improperly routed fuel line. In the second recall, gas powered Carryall 300, Transporter, Villager, Streetrod Lux and Streetrod Vintage vehicles may experience fuel leaks during low speed idling with a full gas tank. In both cases, owners should immediately stop using the vehicles and contact Club Car for a free repair.

The following are recall details from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

First Recall Details

Name of product: Club Car Precedent, Tempo, Onward and Villager model gas golf and transport vehicles

Hazard: Fuel can leak from an improperly-routed fuel line, posing fire and burn hazards.R

Recall date: August 19, 2019

Units: About 9,000 (In addition, about 2,000 were sold in Canada)

Description: This recall involves model year 2019 gas-powered Precedent, Tempo, Onward and Villager golf and transport vehicles, which are used for short-distance transportation. Vehicles with the following model and serial numbers are included in the recall. Serial numbers are located above and to the right of the accelerator pedal. The model number is the first two letters of the serial number.

Model NameModel# Serial Number
Tempo GasBXBX1905-944274 to BX2003-039920
Tempo Gas 2 + 2BYBY1910-953754 to BY2002-039481
Onward 2 Pass Non-Lifted GasBQBQ1924-981193 to BQ2003-041072
Onward 4 Pass Non-LiftedBSBS1910-953760 to BS2003-041012
Onward 4 Pass Lifted GasBWBW1910-953767 to BW2003-041068
Precedent Villager 2 GasBJBJ1910-953915 to BJ2002-039525
Precedent Gas EFI 2PDFDF1929-987941 to DF2002-039479
Precedent Villager 4 GasDJDJ1929-987934 to DJ1950-034968
Onward 6 Pass Non-Lifted GasAYAY1945-024474 to AY1949-033252
Onward 6 Pass Lifted GasAWAW1945-024474 to AW2003-041004

 Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact Club Car to schedule a free repair. Club Car is contacting owners directly.

Incidents/Injuries: Club Car has received three reports of fuel leaks. No fires or injuries have been reported.

Sold At: Authorized Club Car dealers nationwide from August 2018 through July 2019 for between $7,000 and $11,000.

Manufacturer(s): Club Car, of Augusta, Georgia

Manufactured In: United States

Recall number: 19-770

Second Recall Details

Club Car Gas Carryall 300 utility vehicle
The Club Car Carryall 300 gas powered utility vehicle is part of the second recall.

Name of product: Club Car Gas Carryall 300, Transporter, Villager Vehicles, Streetrod Lux and Streetrod Vintage Vehicles

Hazard: Under continuous operations with low speed idling periods and a full gas tank, the fuel vent can allow fuel to leak, posing a fire hazard.

Recall date: August 19, 2019

Units: About 1,300 (In addition, about 13 were sold in Canada)

Description: This recall involves 2019 utility and transport vehicles, which vary in size, models and colors and are used for short-distance transportation. The recalled vehicles can be identified by the model and serial numbers. Serial numbers are above and to the right of the accelerator pedal. The model number is the first two letters of the serial number. Recalled models and serial numbers include:

Model NameSerial Number Range
CA300, GasMC1902- 939803 – MC1936-003158
Transporter, GasMK1901-938752 – MK1936-001620
Villager 6 GasSE1903-941645 – SE1936-003004
Villager 8 GasSF1902-941407 – SF1936-003040
Transporter XL GasSK1907-948159 – SK1932-994341
Transporter XLC GasZV1908-949040 – ZV1928987110
Streetrod LuxSO1908-948943 – SO1908-948929
Streetrod VintageSO1902-939821 – SO1937-004374

 Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the vehicles and contact Club Car to schedule a free repair. Club Car is contacting owners of the recalled gas utility and transport vehicles directly.

Incidents/Injuries: Club Car has received two reports of fuel leaks. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At: Authorized Club Car dealers and Streetrod nationwide from July 2018 through March 2019 for between $8,000 and $16,000. Streetrod branded vehicles were sold by Streetrod dealers from July 2018 through March 2019 for between $18,000 and $20,000.

Manufacturer(s):  Club Car, of Augusta, Ga.Manufactured In:U.S.

Recall number: 19-769

SVR’s Take

This is a large recall for Club Car and represents a significant percentage of their unit sales. Not too surprisingly for the STOV market, the recall involves some variation of a fuel leak hazard. Smallvehicleresource.com maintains a list of small, task-oriented vehicle recalls. Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

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

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

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

Yamaha Golf Car Recalls 145,000 Vehicles

Yamaha Golf Car Adventurer

Yamaha Golf Car’s model year 2016 to 2018 Adventurer vehicles are being recalled.

Yamaha Golf Car Adventurer Sport 2+2

The Adventurer Sport 2+2 is also part of the recall.

Yamaha Golf Car Drive 2

Yamaha Drive 2 is being recalled.

Yamaha Golf Car Recall Overview

Last month Yamaha Golf Car announced the recall of approximately 145,000 golf cars, personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) and utility vehicles. The accelerator pedal return spring can break on the vehicles, posing a crash hazard. The recall involves model year 2016 through 2018 gas and electric-powered golf cars, personal transportation and specialty vehicles. Model names include the Drive, Drive2, Adventurer and Adventurer Sport 2+2. Owners should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a Yamaha golf car dealer to schedule a free repair. There have been no reports of injuries related to the recall but 417 spring failures have been reported.

This is an extremely large recall and rivals those of Polaris from the past several years. Yamaha had a slightly larger recall earlier in the year involving many of the same models for a brake cable issue. SVR tracks recalls of golf cars, PTVs, PSVs and UTVs. In general, the small, task-oriented vehicle industry appears to have a recall problem. A significant number of vehicles are being recalled every year. The following detailed information on this recall is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Yamaha Golf Car Recall Information from CPSC

Name of product:  Yamaha golf cars, personal transportation and specialty vehicles
Hazard:  The accelerator pedal return spring can break, posing a crash hazard.
Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  October 3, 2018
Units:  145,000
Consumer Contact:  Yamaha toll-free at 866-747-4027 anytime or online at www.yamahagolfcar.com and click on the CPSC Recall Alerts tab for more information.

Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves the following model year 2016 through 2018 gas and electric-powered golf cars, personal transportation and specialty vehicles. The vehicles were sold in various colors including blue, green, red, white, tan and silver. The model and serial number can be found on a label under the seat on the left or right side.

Model Year

Model Name

Model Prefix

Serial Number Range

2016

Drive Models YDRA (Gas)

JW8

600101

614300

JC2

300101

312000

JC0

700101

706600

Drive Models YDRE (Electric)

JW9

600101

618100

JC3

000101

004700

JC1

700101

703500

Adventurer Model YTF1A (Gas)

JW6

800101

800600

Adventurer Model YTF2A (Gas)

JW7

700101

701250

Adventurer Model YTF2E (Electric)

JW3

100101

100300

2017

Drive² Models DR2A (Gas)

J0A

000101

010100

J0B

000101

016900

J0D

000101

007200

Drive² Models DR2E (Electric)

J0C

000101

011400

J0E

000101

002900

J0J

000101

002000

Adventurer Model YTF1A (Gas)

JW6

900101

900400

Adventurer Model YTF2A (Gas)

JW7

800101

800750

Adventurer Model YTF2E (Electric)

JW3

200101

200250

2018

Drive² Models DR2A (Gas)

J0A

100101

110400

J0B

100101

119200

J0D

100101

110600

Drive² Models DR2E (Electric)

J0C

100101

111700

J0E

100101

102600

J0J

100101

102700

Adventurer Model YTF1A (Gas)

JW6

910101

910500

Adventurer Model YTF2A (Gas)

JW7

900101

900800

Adventurer Model YTF2E (Electric)

JW3

300101

300250

 

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a Yamaha golf car dealer to schedule a free repair. Yamaha is contacting all registered owners directly.

Incidents/Injuries:  Yamaha has received 417 reports of incidents involving spring failures. No injuries have been reported.
Sold Exclusively At:  Yamaha golf car dealers nationwide from June 2015 through August 2018 for between $5,500 and $12,300.
Manufacturer(s):  Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, of Newnan, Ga.
Distributor(s):  Yamaha Golf-Car Company, of Kennesaw, Ga.
Assembled in:  U.S.
Recall number:  19-701

Lithium Battery Powered Golf Cars on the Rise

Trojan Trillium lithium battery

A lithium battery from Trojan’s new Trillium product line.

Trillium Lithium Battery Line from Trojan

Trojan Battery, a major player in the golf car and small task-oriented vehicle market, recently introduced their new Trillium line of Trojan Intelligent Lithium batteries. The line is targeting the aftermarket segment and is designed to be a replacement for existing lead acid batteries. According to Trojan the switch can be made “without the need for expertise in Li-ion technology or system integration.” Likewise OEMs can use the new battery line “…without significant investments in custom pack design and development.”

Sign of More Market Penetration

Trojan’s new product line is another indication of the growing use of lithium batteries in the golf car market. For a number of years there has been a lithium battery aftermarket that has largely consisted of smaller companies packaging together the various components. They either sell directly to golf car owners and/or through dealers who can install the components. However, this has been a niche market. In 2015 LiV Golf Cars tried to sell a lithium powered fleet golf car but were undercut by the big players too many times and retreated from that market. There are also smaller volume OEMs like GEM and luxury golf car maker Garia that offer lithium powered vehicles.

E-Z-GO Entry a Gamechanger

The most significant move towards lithium batteries came in 2017 when E-Z-GO, one of the major golf car manufacturers, launched their ELiTE line of lithium powered fleet golf cars. They also offer the option on some of their personal transportation vehicles. Financial reports show that E-Z-GO sold over 20,000 ELiTE vehicles in 2017. Samsung SDI is the lithium battery supplier for E-Z-GO. Rival golf car manufacturer Club Car has been linked to battery manufacturer LG Chem but has not yet introduced any lithium powered vehicles.

What Lies Ahead

The entry of a brand name such as Trojan should boost the aftermarket segment. Customers will likely have more trust in a Trojan backed product. In addition, if it is as easy to use as advertised, then this niche market should expand. The E-Z-GO product appears to have launched fairly successfully. Continued success will likely force Club Car and Yamaha to introduce their own lithium powered vehicles. Perhaps as soon as the upcoming PGA Show early in 2019. Once that happens, the move towards lithium batteries could accelerate quickly.

Marc Cesare, SVR

Road Use Regulation Roundup – November 2018

golf cart signRoad Use Regulation Summary

The following is a summary of some of the road use regulations for golf cars, LSVs, ATVs and UTVs that have been passed or are being considered at the state, county and city levels since June, 2018.

Some trends in this latest regulation roundup:

  • There is a fairly even split between ordinances that will allow more small vehicles on the roads and ordinances that will restrict use or clarify existing regulations.
  • California is allowing San Diego cities and the county to create a regional LSV plan..
  • Once again most of the legislative activity occurred in the Midwest and Southeast.
  • Florida municipalities were the most active followed by Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Road Use Regulation by Location

Largo, FL – Largo officials denied a request from a mobile home community to allow the use of golf cars on nearby public roads. Officials cited safety concerns and potential cost issues as signs would be needed to notify other drivers that golf cars might be on the roads.

St. Johns County, FL – The county Board of Commissioners is replacing the existing golf car ordinance with one that would provide more clarity and uniformity in the county so the Sheriff’s Office can provide better enforcement.

Panama City Beach, FL – The Florida Highway Patrol reported a number of low seed vehicle and golf car accidents on Back Beach Road which is a state highway route. According to road use regulations the vehicles are not allowed on the route.

Holmes Beach, FL – The town commissioners are considering new golf car regulations that would require the addition of limited safety equipment or a full LSV set of accessories. In addition, they are considering keeping the vehicles off main thoroughfares.

Oconto, WI – The Oconto City Council revised an existing golf car ordinance to allow the use of utility vehicles on city streets. In response to citizens, the Council is considering an ordinance allowing ATVs and UTVs on some city streets.

Greendale, WI – The Greendale Village Board passed an ordinance to allow the use of low speed vehicles on certain city streets.

Austin, MN – The local police department is making an effort to educate citizens that UTVs and ATVs are not allowed on city streets.

St. Cloud, MN – Stearns County passed an ordinance to allow golf cars and LSVs on public roads. A similar ordinance had sunsetted in May.

Covington, OH – Operators of OGGO and Gest low speed vehicle transportation companies asked the city to amend their current low-speed vehicle ordinance to allow the company’s LSVs to operate on certain streets. The transportation is free for the riders. The services will be operating in Cincinnati and Newport as well and generate revenue from advertising.

Toledo, OH – The City Council is considering making permanent an ordinance that allows recreational and commercial use of golf cars in certain areas of the city. Currently a pilot program, the council is also considering expanding the areas of the city where the ordinance would apply.

Edmonton, KY – The Edmonton City Council approved an ordinance that would allow golf cars, ATVs, UTVs and mini-trucks on city streets.

Reedsville, WV – The City Council considering changes to the local vehicle ordinance listened to concerns of citizens regarding the use of UTVs and ATVs on town roads. Some citizens use their vehicles for practical purposes while others are “joy” riding on off-limit streets. The vehicles can be used on certain roads for a legitimate farm use. The changes would require drivers to show proof of farm use and have safety signage attached to the vehicle.

Woodstock, GA – The Woodstock City Council tabled a small vehicle ordinance in order to further discuss the definition of golf cars, ATVs, low-speed vehicles and personal transport vehicles, and the safety features required for each.

Poplarville, MS – The Board of Alderman is sending a resolution to the state legislature to allow the use of golf cars and other low speed vehicles on city streets.

California – Governor Brown signed a bill that gives cities in San Diego County and the county itself the authority to establish a LSV transportation plan.

South Carolina – A new law is about to go into effect designed to more easily allow police to enforce violations related to driving golf cars and other low speed vehicles. Violating any golf cart rule will be a misdemeanor punishable with a maximum fine of $100 or 30 days in jail, unless the offense is deemed to be a felony.

 

 

Arcimoto FUV: A Threat to PTVs?

Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle - FUV

The electric powered Arcimoto FUV (Fun Utility Vehicle) is just coming to market.

Oregon based Arcimoto is beginning to roll out their three-wheeled Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV). The combination of price point, size, electric powertrain and ability to travel public roads makes the Arcimoto FUV an intriguing alternative to golf cars, PTVs and LSVs.

Update – Arcimoto responded to a number of questions I sent them and I have added the information to the relevant sections below.

Arcimoto FUVs already on the Road

The first 10 FUV prototypes hit the road this past June. The company completed another 15 vehicles, referred to as their beta series, in September. These went to five customers and the remainder to rental locations. Vehicle rental franchising in tourist locations is a key part of Arcimoto’s marketing plan. As of the end of June the company has 2,800 reservations for the FUV.

Volume Production

Management expects to begin production and delivery of their A series of vehicles during this quarter. The A series marks the move to higher volume production. Plans call for a run rate of 200 vehicles/week or roughly 10,000/year by the end of 2019. The company has deliberately designed smaller sized production facilities that can produce approximately 10,000 vehicles per year.  A production facility costs approximately $10 million. This limits initial capital costs and creates a facility that can be profitable relatively quickly. Furthermore, the facility can be easily replicated in other parts of the country or the world.

Vehicle Features and Specs

The Arcimoto FUV is a three-wheeled vehicle powered by a 67 hp electric motor and a 12 or 20 kWh lithium-ion battery for a range of 70 or 130 miles and a top speed of 80 mph. As a three-wheeler, most states classify the FUV as a motorcycle or similar vehicle. Therefore, it does need the same  safety requirements as a full-sized, highway capable vehicle. The FUV can seat two passengers, one behind the other, and features regenerative braking, hydraulic brakes, a windshield with wiper and defrost, and heated seats and hand grips. Additional options include full HVAC, soft or hard shell doors, rear cargo box, bluetooth speakers and racks for golf clubs, bikes, surfboards, etc. The target price for the base model is $11,900 with a fully decked out model reaching the $19,000 range.

Arcimoto FUV Dimensions

Arcimoto FUV Dimensions

Versatility and Price Point Creates an Alternative to PTVs

The FUV is a versatile vehicle for gated communities. The vehicle can move from golf course, to community pathways to public roads. On public roads the FUV faces none of the restrictions of a golf car, PTV or LSV since it is classified as a motorcycle. Therefore, it can travel on higher speed roads and at night. The FUV can travel faster and farther as well. In terms of speed, the FUV may need a speed limiter option for use on golf courses or within communities depending on local regulations. According to Arcimoto, the vehicle does have the capability to cap speeds to meet specific needs.

The company is targeting a $12,000 base price. Therefore, the FUV is pricier but competitive with LSVs and fancier PTVs given the trade off between price and functionality. One of the reasons LSV sales never really took off in gated communities as expected is that the additional price premium did not offer a significant benefit over new or refurbished golf cars. LSVs are most successful where regulations greatly restrict the use of PTVs or golf cars on local roads. However, if anything, municipalities are becoming less restrictive regarding golf car use. Furthermore, in states like California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Arizona, and Illinois there are tax incentives available for the FUV. There is also the possibility that electric motorcycle or similar incentives could be brought back at the federal level. The company is lobbying to have the tax credits for motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles brought back. This additional cost reduction could further boost the attractiveness of this alternative vehicle.

Arcimoto FUV Drawbacks

There are some potential drawbacks to the Arcimoto FUV in the gated community setting.

Higher Driving Speeds

Some communities may object to the vehicle’s higher speed capabilities. Some type of speed limiter could address this, or not, depending on the locality. In addition, given the older demographic in gated communities, some drivers may not feel safe driving at higher speeds on local roads. Nevertheless, driving up to 40 to 45 mph would include a large swath of vehicle usage inside and outside a gated community. In effect, the FUV could displace both PTV miles and a sizable chunk of driving performed with highway capable vehicles.

Seating Configuration

Seating configuration is another potential drawback. The seating in an FUV is one passenger behind the other rather than side by side. Some users may feel this reduces the social aspect while riding in the vehicle, particularly on a golf course.

Vehicle Storage

For seasonal usage by vacation home owners, there is often a need to store the vehicle for several months without any usage. This can be an issue or at least require some planning for the current battery powered vehicles. According to Battery University a lithium ion battery should be stored at 40% percent charge if being stored for an extended period. Arcimoto did not answer my question directly on this subject but expect to have a battery pack with a lifetime of “…8-10 years with normal vehicle usage, and still maintain more than 80% of their original charging capacity.” The pack replacement cost is expected to be under $2,500 inclusive of the residual value.

Marketing, Pricing and Local Regulations Critical to Success

The success of the Arcimoto FUV in displacing golf cars, PTVs and LSVs will depend on three key elements:  marketing, pricing and local regulations. The last may be the most important. If gated communities object to the FUV’s higher speed capabilities, and there is no technological fix, foreclosing the market. The pricing may be the easiest to address. If Arcimoto can hit their target price at volume production, even without tax incentives there is a compelling cost benefit story for the FUV.

The marketing element depends in part on where Arcimoto’s management wants to invest resources. The gated community market may be too small to target during the initial phases of the vehicle’s rollout. In addition, golf car dealers mainly serve this market. The company likely does not have relationships with this distribution channel. On the other hand, their rental franchise plan could overlap with these dealers as some are located in tourist oriented beach communities and have high PTV use. This angle could serve as an entry point to the market. In response to my questions Arcimoto stated that they put on a test ride event for the FUV at The Villages, a gated community in Florida, on November 12th. They also noted that the short drives and warm weather make resort communities a great market for the vehicle.

In a years time we will have a better idea whether the Arcimoto FUV has met with success, and whether it threatens the PTV market.

Marc Cesare, SVR