2020 Small Task-Oriented Vehicle Study

Club Car Onward 4-passenger lifted PTV
Club Car Onward 4-passenger lifted PTV

In a new market study on the small task-oriented vehicle (STOV) market in the US and Canada, Small Vehicle Resource (SVR), LLC describes an industry in midstream transition as:

  • Climate policies, COVID-19 effects and new technologies usher in the urban/suburban mobility market and underpin an expanding consumer market for personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), as well as commercial markets for light duty utility vehicles;
  • The transition from lead acid to lithium batteries continues, raising performance and transforming vehicle longevity and recycling value.
  • The maturing off-road utility and recreational UTV market remains fundamentally strong and highly competitive, and is poised to follow the automobile and golf-car type vehicle markets into electrification;

The study provides a strategic analysis of the rise of urban/suburban mobility market driven in the context of the STOV industry. Steve Metzger, SVR Managing Director, states that, “The intersection of climate policy, new technologies and COVID-19 effects will lead to a ‘dispersed living lifestyle’, and provide new opportunities in the urban/suburban mobility market.”  He further remarks, “The STOV industry, particularly the Big Three golf manufacturers with a foothold in gated communities, have the core competencies to transition from golf-centric to urban/suburban centric. The question is will they?” 

Marc Cesare, SVR Managing Director, adds that, “While the UTV manufacturers will see solid growth in their market, some are capable of pursuing the urban/suburban mobility market as well. However, their DNA, profit centers and distribution channels are primarily off-road and powersports. Culturally, the pursuit of the urban/suburban mobility opportunity may be a difficult paradigm shift.”

The study, the tenth in the series since 2000, covers market trends from 2016 and develops projections to 2025. The key segments are golf fleet, personal transportation vehicles, light-duty utility vehicles, and off-road utility and recreation vehicles. In total, these segments are forecasted to reach close to 1,200,000 new vehicles in 2025. Electric powered vehicles continue to make inroads. Approximately a third of the market is electric powered, primarily in the form of fleet golf cars, PTVs, as well as light duty utility vehicles, of which approximately 80% will be electric by 2025. Key trends and projections for the market include:

  • Demand for electric powered STOV vehicles will increase to over 450,000 vehicles in 2025.
  • Golf course fleet demand will decline slightly during the trend period but will remain overwhelmingly electric powered, around 80%.
  • Demand for PTVs will be strong.
  • Lithium battery powered vehicles will continue to make inroads as more models become available with this option.

            The study is entitled, Trends and Outlook for Small, Task-Oriented Vehicles-2016-2025- An Analysis of the Emerging Urban/Suburban Mobility Market.  For additional, detailed information see the study brochure with table of contents or contact:

Steve Metzger smetzger@smallvehicleresource.com

(914) 293-7577

2020 PGA Show Insights

Club Car Onward with lithium batteries
Club Car Onward is now available with lithium batteries.

My colleague, Stephen Metzger, attended the 2020 PGA Show in Florida. His observations of the latest products on display “…suggests a new generation of diverse vehicles going well beyond the golf market.  In general terms the emerging market that trends will play into is that of urban/suburban mobility. “ He lays out his observations and what they say about the strategies of the three major manufacturers in a new article.

PGA Show: Big Three Strategies

Club Car is looking towards connectivity and telematics technologies for new market opportunities. The company is monitoring developments in the urban/suburban mobility market. According to management, Club Car’s lithium battery powertrain and Onward PTV platform positions the company well to take advantage of new opportunities .

E-Z-GO lithium models, ELiTe and Express from E-Z-GO.
E-Z-GO lithium models, ELiTe and Express from E-Z-GO.

E-Z-GO is leaning on their latest technology advancements like their first to market (of the big three) lithium powertrain for fleet and PTVs, their IntelliBrake technology, AC drive, 72-volt powertrain and new quieter and more efficient EX1 gas engine. In addition, they continue to monitor the urban and suburban mobility markets.

Yamaha emphasized their new, fully independent suspension which is likely a precursor to a lithium powered vehicle. The absence of much heavier lead acid batteries has significant implications for the suspension setup and vehicle ride quality.

Other PGA Show Insights

Automotive features such as touchscreen LED displays and rearview cameras are continuing evidence that more automotive features are becoming standard in PTVs. The trend fits nicely with the ongoing development of the urban/suburban mobility market. A slice of this market includes low-speed vehicles and PTV like vehicles. Manufacturers also displayed scotters and golf specific, electric powered vehicles. The technology of the latter category could likely be adapted to the urban/suburban mobility markets.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

New Mobility Tech Challenges PTVs

Cruise Origin offers mobility through autonomous driving
The recently announced Cruise Origin self-driving vehicle that GM plans to start building in 2022. A potential threat to PTVs in gated communities?

The Mobility Tech Challenge

New urban and micro mobility technology creates a potential challenge to the existing players in the PTV market. This technology is wide ranging from electric skateboards and electric bikes to three-wheeled and larger autonomous vehicles. While the technology is typically discussed in the context of the urban environment, it can also be well suited to the gated and vacation community markets. These alternative mobility technologies do not provide a head-on, direct competition to PTVs, but neither are they merely tangential. They can challenge the existing PTV players by taking multiple, smaller slices of the market pie. In addition, they are attracting a host of new players and new investment.

Electric Bikes & Scooters

The gated and vacation community skews older so skateboards are probably out, and at first glance electric bikes and electric scooters (Vespa like) may not seem to make sense. However, electric bikes and scooters can offer a slice of the market an alternative transportation experience. An electric pedal assist bike can provide exercise without as much exertion as a traditional bike. In addition, if you already bike, it extends your existing trip range and experiences. Scooters offer an alternative to PTVs for quick single or two-person trips. This technology can also be applied in the form of a bike or scooter share program, providing access to the whole community. A share program would seem well suited to a planned community that has a large enough population and well planned out destination points.

Pros

They are fun to ride and, in the case of bikes, can provide additional exercise opportunities. They are a less expensive alternative, especially if you need an occasional second mode of transportation and have a small footprint. Furthermore, their speed range fits well in the low speed planned community environment. They can also be used to venture outside the community with likely less restrictions than PTVs.

Cons

On the other hand these modes of transportation have some drawbacks that limits their appeal. First, they can only accommodate one or maybe two people in the case of scooters. They have limited carrying capacity for running errands. They also do not provide any protection from the elements or as much collision protection from other vehicles as a PTV does. In addition, older folks may not feel as physically capable of operating these vehicles. Although, the low speed and well planned roadways can ameliorate this issue to some degree.

Three-wheelers & Autonomous Vehicles

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

On the other end of the spectrum you have larger multi-passenger vehicles that provide a more direct competition to existing PTVs. Vehicles like the FUV can carry two passengers or one with cargo. As a three-wheeler, the FUV can operate at higher speeds and has no restrictions for venturing outside of communities on public roads. At the same time, this vehicle can be speed limited for golf course and planned community use. With autonomous vehicles planned community residents could displace at least some of their PTV usage, and possibly all of it if the the service is robust enough.

Pros

With the ability to travel from golf course to community roads to public roads, the three-wheeled vehicle offers greater versatility than PTVs. Capable of higher speeds, it also has greater functionality than PTVs for certain use scenarios. For autonomous vehicles, the low-speed, well-defined and relatively limited planned community road networks offer an ideal environment. For residents less inclined or capable of driving a PTV, they provide a method to maintain mobility.

Cons

The FUV is currently much more expensive than PTVs and even LSVs. Therefore, customers may not find the increased versatility and functionality worth the price. They also are limited to two passengers, and as a result are less useful for family outings. For autonomous vehicles the technology is still in the development phase. In addition, some customers may prefer the convenience, customization and the statement made by owning a PTV. Furthermore, the cost of this type of service is not currently known.

New Players, Investment & Disruptive Innovation

Harley Davidson electric bicycles

An additional aspect of urban and micro mobility that PTV manufacturers must contend with is the increased number of market players, capital investment and disruptive product innovations that the technology brings. For example, Harley Davidson and Jeep have revealed at least prototype electric bikes. Completely new companies like Arcimoto have entered the market. Tech companies like Alphabet (Google) and traditional auto manufacturers are developing highly sophisticated autonomous vehicle technology. In addition, you have ride share companies.

PTV manufacturers are potentially at a disadvantage because they have neither the focus of disruptive startups or the financial resources of much larger companies. On the other hand, they do possess strong knowledge of the market and a distribution network to serve the market. They also have experience in developing and manufacturing electric vehicles in a highly competitive environment.

Potential Strategies

One strategy for PTV manufacturers to take is to start developing new mobility platforms themselves. The question is whether they have enough resources and commitment. They would have to balance maintaining their current product lines while trying to introduce entirely new a category of products. Another strategy would be to leverage their distribution and marketing expertise by acquiring or partnering with new market entrants to launch to product categories. They could also decide to keep improving their existing products and manufacturing efficiency. As a result, they could maintain or lower prices while increasing the value of their products. Therefore, new entrants could find market entry to difficult or limited to niche markets. However, compared to the other two strategies, this strategy offers less upside. In addition, it still leaves them vulnerable to a disruptive technology. The first two strategies provides the opportunity to potentially expand into urban markets.

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

Optimus Ride Expands Autonomous Shuttle Service

Optimus Ride autonomous vehicle
An Optimus Ride self-driving LSV based on a GEM e4.

New York & California Locations Added

Optimus Ride, a self-driving startup company with roots in MIT, will be expanding their autonomous shuttle service next quarter to New York and Northern California. In both cases the service will be operating in a more controlled environment than public roads. In New York, Optimus Ride will operate their shuttle service on private roads in the 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard. The private development features light and heavy manufacturing and is home to about 8,500 workers. In Fairfield, CA the autonomous shuttle service will be deployed at Paradise Valley Estates. The Estates are a private, 80-acre, retirement community.

Optimus Ride NEVs

Optimus Ride uses GEM e4 and e6 models for their vehicles which are LSVs and therefore limited to a 25 mph top speed. They were first deployed in Weymouth, MA by the Boston-based company. Last year another 15 cities in the state announced an agreement to serve as a test bed for the autonomous shuttle service. Learn more: Theverge.com

SVR’s Take

The use of NEVs in a controlled environment as a testbed for autonomous vehicles is not surprising. SVR has previously discussed the advantages of using LSVs in gated communities for self-driving technology. These environments are more controlled than public roads with a limited, clearly defined set of low speed roadways. In addition, the older populations who may not be able to or want to drive can potentially find the greatest value in the service. At the same time, the gated community offers a challenging environment for testing the technology. Similar to public roads, there is a mix of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, albeit on a smaller scale. The low-speed roadways offers a cost advantage as well, since an electric LSV costs far less than a highway capable EV.

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

PGA Show STOV Trends

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

My colleague Stephen Metzger recently attended the 2019 PGA Show in Orlando, FL. Two trends stood out from his journey through various exhibits. First, the on-going development of feature-rich and customizable personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), particularly through automotive-type features. Second, the mainstreaming of lithium power.

PTVs to the Forefront

The manufacturer announcements at the PGA Show and the current PTV shopping experience points to a clear emphasis on PTV market. Both large and small manufacturers are driving this trend. This is part of an overarching effort by manufacturers to pursue growth in the non-fleet golf car markets. They are targeting the utility and personal transportation segments as fleet sales have declined and then stagnated.

Customization with automotive features

Manufacturer websites now allow for easy and quick customization with the simple click of a few buttons. Build your own functionality adds accessories and provides transparent pricing in seconds. Many of these accessories are automotive-style features like LED lighting, high-end audio systems, premium upholstery, and bodywork accents. In addition, these trends are evident not only in offerings from major vehicle manufacturers but from new and smaller manufacturers as well as aftermarket accessory providers.

Lithium Powers Up at the PGA Show

The mainstreaming of lithium powered vehicles is the second key trend evident at the PGA Show. E-Z-GO the first major manufacturer to significantly move to lithium did so two years ago. Now they are expanding their lithium powered lineup beyond fleet models and some PTVs to include select utility vehicles. More significantly, Club Car announced their own lithium powered fleet vehicle, the Tempo, and likely will offer their Onward PTV with a lithium option later in the year. Missing from the lithium powered party for now is Yamaha Golf Car.

Lithium Market Implications

The move to lithium powered vehicles will likely produce significant changes in the STOV market. Greater range, charging times, and lengthier warranties on battery packs are key improvements. Consequently, they will affect the fleet vehicle cycle, electric powered UTV capabilities and PTV functionality. One effect that should not be underestimated is the maintenance free nature of lithium battery packs. Proper maintenance of lead acid batteries continue to vex individual owners and fleet managers. Maintenance of lead acid batteries continues to be a challenge despite being used for decades and the introduction of advanced watering systems and other technologies. Poor maintenance can lead to a less efficient powertrain, and potentially a large bill for a new battery pack.

For more detail on new products and trends at the PGA Show read my colleague Stephen Metzger’s article.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Textron Expands ELiTE Vehicle Lineup

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

Textron Specialized Vehicles Launches Hauler 800 ELiTE Electric UTV

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

ELiTE Powertrain

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

Learn more: Textron.com

SVR’s Take

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

Where is the Competition on Lithium Batteries?

Polaris diverse lineup sprinkled with lithium models

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

Club Car enters the fray

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

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Honda Launches Talon 1000R/X Sport UTVs

Honda Talon 1000

The Talon 1000R and 1000X are Honda’s entry into the sport UTV segment.

Honda Talon 1000X

The Honda Talon 1000X is designed for tighter and rockier trails.

Honda Talon 1000R

The Honda Talon 1000R is for dunes and more wide open riding.

Honda Launches Talon Sport UTVs

Honda recently introduced the Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R UTVs. They are Honda’s long awaited entry into the sport UTV market. The Talon 1000X targets tighter wooded trails and rockier environments while the Talon 1000R aims for more wide-open dune riding. The models should be available in early 2019. I’ve seen sources mention January while others mentioned March. The first date might be production and the second could be arrival at the dealerships. In any case, the following specs are common to both versions.

  • 104-hp, 999cc, twin-cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC engine
  • Six-speed dual clutch transmission
  • Power steering
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Hydraulic brakes with two 250mm discs;
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system
  • LED High/Low Headlights
  • About 1,500 lbs in weight
  • Tire sizes:  28x9x15; 28x11x15
  • Bolstered seats with harness pass throughs
  • Roof is standard

See the Talon in action:  Official Honda Talon 1000 video

Talon Model Differences

The two models have different widths, wheelbases, slightly different suspension systems with different suspension travel. a slight difference in suspension travel and different color options. The following specs are some of the key differences between the vehicles.

Pricing Update

In early January 2019 Honda announced pricing for the vehicles.

Talon 1000R — MSRP: $20,999; Availability: Spring 2019

Talon 1000X — MSRP: $19,999; Availability: Spring 2019

Talon 1000x Key Specs

  • Double-wishbone front suspension, Fox Podium 2.0 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • 3 Link rear suspension with high-clearance trailing arm, Fox Podium 2.0 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • Front/Rear suspension travel:  14.5″/15″
  • Red/Gray with red suspension accents
  • Gray/Blue with silver suspension accents
  • Width:  64.0
  • Wheelbase:  87.6

Talon 1000R Key Specs

  • Double-wishbone front suspension, Fox Podium 2.5 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • 4+ Link trailing-arm rear suspension with toe link, Fox Podium 2.5 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • Front/Rear suspension travel:  17.7″/20.1″
  • Red with red suspension accents
  • Green/Silver with silver suspension accents
  • Width:  68.4
  • Wheelbase:  92.7

Initial Reviews

The following are some initial reviews and analysis of the Talon from around the industry.

UTVonDemand

First Look Review (video). Provides fairly in-depth analysis of the engine and drive train and highlights many of the key features that the reviewer likes.

  • 999cc twin cylinder SOHC engine should provide good low-end torque
  • 270 degree firing order makes it run like a single cylinder
  • Based on Pioneer engine but bigger throttle bodies, bigger injectors, different heads and more flow
  • Claiming 104 hp but may have higher torque than other UTVs with more hp
  • Rubber mounted engine to dampen vibration
  • 3 Driving Modes:  Sport, Normal and Manual with paddle shifters
  • Hill Assist – Push dash button and it holds the vehicle from rolling back for 3 seconds
  • “Big deal” for this vehicle is the transmission has a dual high and low range so you can  go rock crawling without changing the gear set out
  • Claim extra strong driveshaft and axles
  • i-4WD system with electronic braking control to transfer power up front from a spinning wheel to the wheel with traction
  • 68.4 1000R  Front/rear wheel travel 17.7/20.1
  • 64″ 1000X Front/rear wheel travel 14.6/15.1- this may be a little short compared to competitors
  • Can use 30″ tires – 28″ are standard and custom designed by Maxxis
  • 15″ rims for bigger brakes
  • 1000X has 3 link system podium 2.0
  • 1000R has a 4 link for added strength and Podium 2.5;
  • More suspension tuning with 3 mode QS3 compression on both models
  • Power steering sport tuned for feedback and speed sensitive
  • Standard roof is designed with rain gutters and air vents for trailering backwards
  • Good seat sliders
  • Holders in doors and t-bar has nice latching system
  • Seats have pass throughs for harnesses
  • Pedals laid out for two or one foot driving and passenger has different places to place feet at speed or more relaxed driving
  • Cupholders with rubber for holding in drinks
  • Good cargo capacity and design
  • 1 yr warranty

Hondaprokevin

Provides specs in a nice layout and plenty of pictures

UTV Action

General overview of key specs and some commentary.

  • Probably will competitively priced around $20,000
  • Trail riders anywhere will like it but sand riders may wait for turbo option

UTV Driver

They provide a top ten feature list for the vehicles

  • Bolstered seats with harness pass throughs and harness bar
  • 15″ rims for larger brakes and 30″ tires
  • Sizable cargo bed with tie-downs
  • Dual Clutch six-speed transmission
  • Paddle shifting
  • FOX shocks
  • Hill Start Assist
  • 4-link trailing arm system on 1000R
  • Engine
  • Strong, durable build

SVR’s Take

Honda’s entry into the sport market has long been rumored so this isn’t much of a surprise. People may not have expected  two different models, but targeting the main sport sub-segments makes sense. The initial reactions are very positive and Honda’s reputation for quality and performance have riders expecting a good vehicle.

Increased Competition

Not surprisingly, Honda’s entry makes the sport end of the market now quite crowded. As a result, the competitive landscape raises the question of how Kawasaki will respond. They have been focusing more on the utility side of the market with their recent model introductions and have not made any really big changes with their more recreationally oriented Teryx product line. I would suspect they might come out with a new high-end sport vehicle in the next year and probably as a separate product line.