Arcimoto FUV Production Starts

Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle - FUV
The electric powered Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) is just starting retail production.

Oregon-based Arcimoto recently started production of their Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) to meet pre-order demand for 4,100 vehicles. Technically a motorcycle, the FUV is an electric powered three-wheeled vehicle that seats two. Many states have a special classification for three wheeled vehicles and only require a regular driver’s license to operate the vehicle. The current FUV Evergreen edition costs $19,900 but the company hopes in the future that volume production will reduce base model pricing to $12,000 and possibly below $10,000.

Arcimoto FUV Specs

The Arcimoto FUV is essentially a trike with two wheels up front and one in the rear. Each wheel up front has an electric motor. The vehicle has a 19.2 kWh lithium ion battery pack for a range of just over 100 miles and a top speed of 75 mph. The FUV has handlebar steering with a twist throttle and finger activated regenerative braking. Foot operated hydraulic brakes on all three wheels augments the regenerative braking. Other specs include:

  • Removable doors
  • LCD display
  • Heated seats
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Two USB ports
  • Phone cradle
  • Lockable rear storage
  • Criss-cross seatbelts

The company is also developing a one person delivery vehicle and an emergency responder vehicle based on the same platform.

SVR’s Take

The Arcimoto FUV satisfies a need for a small, energy efficient vehicle that can be driven locally. Even though the FUV can operate at highway speeds I believe the sweet spot for the vehicle will be on roads up with speed limits up to 50 mph. Gated communities and vacation destinations that already allow low speed vehicles (LSVs) and golf cars will be a key market.

PTV Market

The problem with this market currently is that LSVs and golf cars can only go 20 to 25 mph and are often restricted to certain public roads based on speed limits and local ordinances. Classified as a motorcycle and with the power to operate at higher speeds, the FUV avoids this issue. This combination greatly increases the functionality of the FUV. The FUV with a speed limited setting can go from golf course to gated community to higher speed public roads. Therefore, the FUV is appropriate for a wider range of activities.

FUV Challenges

I currently see three main challenges that may limit the FUVs appeal. The first is consumer acceptance of driving a three-wheeled vehicle with handlebar steering. This is different than many consumer’s traditional driving experience. The second is price. The company should target the $10,000 to $13,000 price range to be competitive with LSVs, PTVs and golf cars. Although, the increased functionality of the vehicle is a mitigating factor that could allow for a pricing premium. The third is that the vehicle is only two passenger, so it may have limited appeal for families or larger groups.

Competitive Landscape

The FUV is a direct challenge to the LSVs and more importantly the personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) that have become a key growth market for the traditional golf car companies. The decline and stagnation in fleet golf car market has forced these companies to target the utility vehicle and PTV markets for growth. (LSVs have largely been relegated to college and corporate campuses with some personal transportation use.) This could become the classic case of the outsider coming in and disrupting a market.

Where are the golf companies?

There is no reason the golf car companies could not have developed this vehicle first and they certainly have the resources and time to create a vehicle of their own. However, in the past these companies have missed opportunities such as the utility vehicle market for which they were well positioned. In addition, the FUV could serve as an alternative to a second or third automobile for running local errands or short one or two person commuting.

What Does The Future Hold

It will be interesting to see what kind of uptake the consumer version has. Recreational vehicles like the Can-Am Spyder and Polaris Slingshot have not completely taken off and remained niche. However, they are more recreational and less of a practical and green transportation alternative than the FUV. I think the delivery version of the FUV might be the sleeper product. Given concerns about urban congestion, pollution and sustainability, these vehicles could become a popular option for last mile logistics in crowded cities. The urban environment could play to the vehicle’s strengths of smaller size and zero emission powertrain while mitigating weaknesses such as limited top speed and driving range.

Club Car 411 Utility Vehicle

Club Car 411 utility vehicle in pickup configuration
The Club Car 411 is an all-electric vehicle developed in partnership with AEV Technologies.
Club Car 411 flatbed configuration
The flatbed version of the Club Car 411 utility vehicle.
Club Car 411 Van Box Configuration
The van box version of the Club Car 411 utility vehicle.

Club Car 411 Overview

Earlier this year Club Car introduced the Club Car 411 utility vehicle, an all-electric vehicle for cargo services and low speed logistics. The 411 is the result of a partnership between Club Car and AEV Technologies, a manufacturer of light-duty battery-electric vehicles. The partnership combines AEV’s expertise in design and manufacturing with the dealer network and brand power of Club Car.

Club Car 411 Target Market

The Club Car 411 is targeting the space between full-sized trucks and smaller golf car based utility trucks. The partners designed the vehicles to have a lower cost of acquisition, operation and overall ownership while meeting the demand for clean energy vehicles. Typical uses would be on corporate and college campuses, in warehouses and as part of municipal fleets.

Vehicle Capabilities

The Club Car 411 comes in three basic configurations: a van box, a pickup with sides and a flatbed. The vehicles have a curb weight of approximately 2,100 lbs depending on the configuration and a payload capacity of 1,100 lbs. As an LSV the top speed is 25 mph and it has a range of 50 miles. A 10 Kw, 13.4 hp AC motor paired with a 240A AC controller powers the rear-wheel vehicle. The six sealed lead acid batteries provide a range of up to 50 miles.

Standard Features & Options

Standard features include a backup camera, 7″ LCM display, reinforced ABS body panels and cabin heating. The 411 has a reinforced steel chassis, 4-wheel, hydraulic disc brakes and power assist steering. Options include fleet management systems including GPS and geofencing.

SVR’s Take

This is a curious move by Club Car. Clearly the vehicle fits with their existing customer base and dealer network, but rather than develop the vehicle themselves they partnered with AEV Technologies. I speculate that the partnership reduces Club Car’s development costs and associated risks. For AEV, the partnership gives them access to a large customer base. AEV Technologies also makes a three wheeled vehicle similar to the Arcimoto FUV. Therefore, if the FUV makes inroads into Club Car’s PTV market then they could have a ready for market vehicle to compete against it.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Honda 2020 UTV Lineup

Honda Talon 1000X-4 sport side-by-side
The new four-seat Honda Talon 1000X-4 for model year 2020.
Honda Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve with sensor suspension
The Honda Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve features a sensor driven suspension.

Honda recently announced the addition of two four-seat Talon models to build out their sport lineup. For the rest of the Honda 2020 UTV lineup, which consists of Pioneer UTVs, there were only minor changes.

Honda 2020 UTV Lineup Changes

The most important changes are the addition of the two four-seat Talon models mentioned above. The two-seat Talons are back for 2020 but pricing information is not yet available. The Pioneer lineup changes primarily involves some price increases and a few color changes.

  • The Pioneer 500 models increased in price by $100 to $9,199, roughly 1%. They also removed the Active Yellow and Olive color options and added a new Moose Brown.
  • The Pioneer 700 and 700 Deluxe increased by $200, about 2%, to $10,999 and $12,499 respectively. Red and White color options have replaced Olive for the base model and Matte Silver has replaced Pearl Orange for the Deluxe model.
  • The Pioneer 700-4 maintains the same price at $12,399 but Metallic Silver replaces Red as the model color.
  • For the Pioneer 1000 models, the Pioneer 1000 EPS model from 2019 has become the new base Pioneer 1000 for 2020 with EPS standard across the line. Honda decreased the price by $100 to $15,799.
  • The Honda 2020 UTV lineup dropped the Pioneer 1000 LE and 2019’s non-EPS base model. Meanwhile, they added a Pioneer 1000 Deluxe version for $16,799 with LED headlights, 14″ blacked-out aluminum wheels and a Honda Phantom Camo paint option ($800 more).
  • For the crew versions the Pioneer 1000-5 increased in price by $300 or almost 2%, as did the Pioneer 1000-5 Deluxe. The Deluxe swaps a new Reactor Blue color option for last year’s Black while maintaining the Red and Camo choices. The MSRP for this model increased by $300 as well. There was no price increase for the Pioneer 1000-5 LE model but Matte Green Metallic replaces Matte Silver as the sole color option.

SVR’s Take

The addition of the four-seat Talons is an important step as there is a definite need in the sport market for a multi-passenger experience. The changes to the Pioneer lineup are relatively minor except for dropping a couple of the Pioneer 1000 variations. I assume those configurations were not selling well and most buyers found other models a more compelling choice. The price increases are relatively minor and basically keep up with inflation. Going forward a narrower version of the Talon could be the next step in that lineup. They may also choose to refresh the Pioneer lineup which has not had any major changes in a few years. Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Honda Unveils Four-Seat Talon Models

 Honda Talon 1000X-4 sport side-by-side
The new four-seat Honda Talon 1000X-4.

Honda recently unveiled their two new four-seat side-by-sides, the Talon 1000X-4 and Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve. The launch follows on the release of their two-seat models last year. The introduction of those side-by-sides marked Honda’s entry into the high end sport segment.

Talon 1000X-4

Not surprisingly, the Talon 1000X-4 is similar to the two-seat 1000X. Key features include:

  • 999cc four-valve Unicam® parallel-twin engine
  • Six-speed dual clutch transmission with full automatic, sport automatic and manual drive modes
  • Steering column mounted paddle shifters
  • FOX Podium Quick Switch 3 shocks
  • 14.6″/15.0″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 4WD traction-aiding technology
  • Hill start assist
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution
  • Stadium style rear seating
  • Available in Metallic Grey/Pearl Red in Fall 2019
 Honda Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve with sensor suspension
The Honda Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve features a sensor driven suspension.

Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve

The Talon 1000X-4 FOX Live Valve is similar to the Talon 1000X-4 but features a different suspension system. The system relies on multiple sensors to make adjustments 16 times per second for an improved ride and handling.

  • 999cc four-valve Unicam® parallel-twin engine
  • Six-speed dual clutch transmission with full automatic, sport automatic and manual drive modes
  • Steering column mounted paddle shifters
  • FOX Podium Quick Switch 3 2.5 shocks front and rear
  • Multiple sensor based shock adjustment for Normal and Sport drive modes
  • 14.6″/15.0″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • Electronic Launch Mode
  • 4WD traction-aiding technology
  • Hill start assist
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution
  • Stadium style rear seating
  • Available in  Pearl Red/Metallic Grey or Metallic Grey/Metallic Blue in Fall 2019

Honda has not released an MSRP for either vehicle at the time of this post.

SVR’s Take

The expansion of Honda’s Talon product line is to be expected. They didn’t enter this market segment last year to just sell a couple of models. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the addition of a narrower side-by-side or possibly some special edition models in six months time or certainly by a year from now. In only a few years the segment went from Polaris, Can-Am and Arctic Cat battling for market share to Yamaha and more recently Honda joining the fray. As a result, consumers now have more models and technology innovations from which to choose. In addition, the competition should keep the pricing down and the value proposition high. Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Can Rungu e-Bike Threaten ATVs?

Rungu Juggernaut MDV Overland, an ATV substitute
The new Rungu Juggernaut MDV Overland is an e-bike positioned as an alternative to ATVs.

Rungu e-Bike Overview

The Rungu Juggernaut MDV Overland is a new three-wheeled e-bike designed for off-road use and as an alternative to ATVs. The e-bike can tow up to 300 lbs and has a 350 lb payload capacity. The drivetrain is a Bafang 1000 Mid Drive with a removable 52V 15 AH Li-ion battery. The dual battery option provides 34 miles of unassisted range. The MSRP is $5,499 but the standard model with one battery is $3,399.

Electrek Rungu e-Bike Review

Electrek.com posted a largely positive review. Some key takeaways from the review.

  • The bike handles a variety of difficult terrain well from soft sand to ruts to stony ground
  • Climbs obstacles very well
  • Performs much better than a two-wheeled fat tire e-bike and more like an ATV but weighs less than 100 lbs
  • Easy to learn how to ride
  • Braking power and three-wheel stability handled extremely steep downhills very well

SVR’s Take

The advent of lower cost lithium batteries and improved electric motors is ushering in a new era of mobility. While much of the focus has been on urban mobility, the Rungu e-bike is an example of the technology making inroads elsewhere. Will the Rungu make significant inroads into the ATV market? Probably not, but it may be able to establish a sizable niche. Producing at higher volume could reduce cost and they could become a formidable substitute. Another possibility is that the Rungu creates a whole new vehicle category.

From a strategic point of view, the Rungu symbolizes a larger threat to the STOV industry. The threat of an industry that may be too complacent and lack vision. As a whole, the industry has not shown great interest in new mobility concepts. although well positioned, STOV companies run the risk of ceding this opportunity to startups and entrants from other industries. Over time, these companies can leverage the manufacturing volume and brand awareness built in new mobility markets, to pursue traditional STOV markets. Is it that far fetched that a company might target urban mobility and then the golf fleet or gated community markets and then head off-road or on campus? Or that Rungu might develop more capable and less expensive e-bike alternatives to encroach further into off-road vehicle segments?

New Bobcat UTVs Announced

Diesel powered Bobcat UV34 utility vehicle
The new 2019 Bobcat UV34 utility vehicle features upgrades to the suspension, chassis and cabin.
Diesel powered Bobcat UV34XL utility vehicle
The new six passenger Bobcat UV34XL utility vehicle is diesel powered and features a number of upgrades.

Bobcat UTVs Overview

Bobcat has launched two new diesel powered UTVs for 2019 with a new chassis, improved suspension and high towing capacity. The UV34 and UV34XL feature a 23.5 hp, liquid cooled diesel engine that is Tier 4 emissions compliant. Towing capacity has been increased to 2,500 lbs. In addition, these models have new shocks and springs and stronger drive components. The UV34 seats two and the UV34XL seats six.

Key Specs

Other key specs shared by both models include:

  • Turf, 2WD or 4WD drive modes
  • 1,250 lb. capacity cargo box with manual dump or optional power dump
  • Independent rear suspension with sway bar
  • 11.7″ of ground clearance
  • 35 mph maximum speed or limited to 15 mph or 25 mph with optional speed kit
  • Larger controls and instrument gauges
  • New cab design for easy entry and exit
  • Flip-up seat storage
  • Tilt steering

The UV34 starts at $16,406 and the UV34XL starts at $17,886. There was no mention of when the vehicles would be available at local dealers. A search of several Bobcat dealer websites did not show the utility vehicles as available yet.

SVR’s Take

The new utility vehicles are basically an upgrade of Bobcat’s 3400 diesel model. Those models have been around for several years without any significant changes. Given the increased competition in the market, the 3400 is likely looking a little dated compared to newer competitive offerings. For example, Can-Am’s Defender line has made inroads in the farm segment in particular. In addition, market leader Polaris is frequently updating different parts of their Ranger lineup. The new UV34 and UV34XL feature pricing slightly higher than the 3400 models.

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

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 Unveils UMAX Rally 2+2 Light UTV

Yamaha UMAX Rally 2+2
The new Yamaha UMAX Rally 2+2 light utility vehicle with convertible rear seating.

Yamaha Launches UMAX Rally 2+2 at PGA Show

Using the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show as a launch pad, Yamaha Golf-Car Company unveiled their new light utility vehicle, the UMAX Rally 2+2. Aiming for a broad swath of the market, the company is marketing the vehicle as crossover model for work or play. The vehicle’s “rugged” styling is less golf car and more closely aligned with the rest of the UMAX line. The UMAX Rally 2+2 features a lifted suspension, front brush guard, wide fender flares and a convertible rear seat. In addition, customers can choose between a electronic fuel injected gas engine or AC electric powertrain.

UMAX Rally 2+2 Features & Specs

Additional features and specs include:

  • Powertrain Options: Yamaha 402cc, single cylinder EFI gas engine or 48V, 6.7 hp AC electric motor with 350 amp controller
  • Rear coil suspension system with individual coil springs with dual compressions for standard or heavier loads
  • Front bucket seats
  • Basket storage area behind the front seats
  • Sealed under-hood storage compartment
  • In-dash storage pockets with anti-slip rubber mats
  • LED headlights
  • HybriCore steel chassis
  • Tru-Trak II fully independent automotive-style strut front suspension
  • Mechanical drum front and rear brakes
  • 23″ tires
  • 15 mph top speed

This model will be available at authorized Yamaha dealers in Spring 2019.

Learn more: Yamahagolfcar.com

SVR’s Take

Similar to many other UTV manufacturers, Yamaha is building out their utility vehicle line to drive sales growth. Marketed as a ‘work or play’ vehicle, this model is also trying to tap into the growing PTV market. The UMAX product line now includes four different models with most offering an option of gas or electric powertrains. Essentially, the UMAX Rally 2+2 adds a crew version to the lineup. The product line is versatile and can appeal to a wide range of commercial and consumer end users. The line offers varying levels of cargo and passenger capacity as well as light off-road capabilities.

Tracker & Textron Partner on UTVs/ATVs

The Tracker Off Road ATV & UTV model lineup

Partnership Overview

Tracker, a leading boat manufacturer, and Textron Specialized Vehicles are forming a partnership to produce UTVs and ATVs and sell them under the new Tracker Off Road brand. Tracker is part of the White River Marine Group that includes Tracker, Triton, and Ranger boats, as well as Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s. The Tracker Off Road vehicles will be sold through select Ranger, Triton, and Tracker, and other independent dealers, as well as at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s locations. They will be built at the Thief River Falls, Minnesota plant that produces Arctic Cat vehicles.

Tracker Off Road Product Lineup

The Tracker Off Road lineup includes four ATVs and four UTVs. The ATV line includes entry level youth and adult models and two more models with more features and capabilities. This lineup should be able to target a wide swath of the ATV market. The UTV lineup includes a personal transportation vehicle (PTV), and three models currently sold under the Prowler nameplate: the Prowler EV, Prowler Pro and Prowler Pro Crew. The corporate presentation also mentioned the potential of selling the Wildcat XX and even snowmobiles through the same distribution network.

Learn more: Businesswire.com

SVR’s Take

The Textron Tracker partnership continues the trend in the UTV market of brands expanding beyond their traditional distribution networks. Typically, an established UTV brand partners with a traditionally non-UTV brand. They either re-brand existing models or develop similar but unique models to sell through the partner brand’s distribution network. Previously, major UTV brands have used this approach to gain access to farm equipment and outdoor power equipment distribution networks. In this case, Textron is tapping into marine distribution and outdoor apparel networks. In a similar vein, Polaris and Can-Am have recently acquired boating manufacturers. Primarily these acquisitions diversify their powersports portfolio. However, it would not be surprising to see them sell a select range of off-road vehicles through these marine networks. If the dealers believe they can make a profit and there is no territorial conflict with the traditional powersports dealers then these networks expand their geographic footprint and reach.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com