Polaris Reports Q2 Results

2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS
Higher priced side-by-sides like the Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS helped increase ORV segment sales.

Polaris recently announced Q2 2019 financial results. Sales for the quarter increased 18% year over year to $1,779 million. Off-Road Vehicle/Snowmobile segment sales increased 6% to $1,049 million with ORV increasing 4%.

Polaris Earnings Call Highlights

The following are some of the highlights from the earnings call as they relate to the small, task-oriented vehicle market.

  • Polaris side-by-side retail sales for North America increased low single digits
  • Polaris side-by-side sales were driven by full-size Ranger, General and RZR XP vehicles that tend to have higher margins
  • ORV retail sales for the North American industry were up high single digits
  • Tariff and trade costs are still expected to cost $80 to $90 million for the year although the company has been able to mitigate some of the costs
  • Global Adjacent Markets segment sales increased 7% to $122 million driven by PG&A for the segment up 17%, strength across all products and strong international sales
  • Management increased prices in the first quarter and that hurt sales of lower priced and lower margin products like value priced ATVs
  • Average selling prices for ORVs were up 9% from price increases and higher priced product mix
  • The side-by-side market remains competitive with companies aggressively using price promotions. As a result there was some weakness in RZR trail product sales.
  • Management referred to the heavy use of promotions by competitors as “ridiculous”
  • Management improved their guidance for the full year for the ORV/Snowmobile segment based on improved product mix for side-by-sides, PG&A sales and strong international sales

Learn more: Seekingalpha.com (earnings call transcript)

SVR’s Take

While the quarter was not super strong for ORVs, management managed to make progress despite a number of headwinds. They pushed through price increases, continued to suffer from tariff issues and had to battle strong promotional spending by competitors. In the face of these hurdles, Polaris demonstrated the strength of their brand and product lineup by increasing sales of higher priced and higher margin units across their product lines. Moving forward, the trade issues appear to be here to stay for awhile and the economy has shown signs of slowing. On the other hand, consumer spending has remained strong as well as unemployment low.

Strong Non-vehicle Programs Boost Polaris Performance

One of the reasons Polaris continues to perform well is their execution in programs beyond new vehicle development. For example, to mitigate tariff effects they re-negotiated supplier pricing, made supply chain adjustments and successfully lobbied for some tariff exclusions. They have also developed a strong PG&A program across most of their products. In addition, they have focused on cost and operational efficiencies on a focused and ongoing basis. Their RFM program keeps inventory low while providing dealers with a good product mix for meeting customer needs. They have recently started rolling out their Factory Choice program that allows for greater customer customization.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Urban Mobility Vehicles

Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle - FUV
The electric powered Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) is just coming to market.
Uniti One a new urban mobility vehicle concept
The Uniti One urban mobility vehicle designed in Sweden.

Urban Mobility Vehicles & Opportunity

My colleague Stephen Metzger has penned an article on the trend towards urban mobility. The big question he asks is whether the small, task-oriented vehicle industry will take advantage of this opportunity. As the golf car manufacturers have focused more on personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) and non-golf utility vehicles, urban mobility vehicles (UMV) would appear to be a natural progression. In addition, UTV manufacturers have some of the capabilities needed to compete in this space.

New Urban Mobility Vehicles

Currently, startups are aggressively pursuing the UMV opportunity. Uniti from Sweden, BARO from the UK and Arcimoto from the US are some of the companies at the forefront on new vehicles and concepts for urban mobility. However, established auto manufacturer Daimler Benz is one exception to the startups with their Smart for Two small vehicle. The electric version of the vehicle is a foundational platform upon which the company plans to build. The question is where are the STOV manufacturers. In short, they appear to be well positioned for the opportunity but will they pursue it?

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

CFMoto Recalls 1,800 2018 ZForce UTVs

CFMoto ZForce 500 Trail

The CFMoto ZForce 500 Trail is being recalled due to a fuel tank neck issue.

CFMoto ZForce 800 Trail

The CFMoto ZForce 800 Trail is part of the recall as well.

CFMoto ZForce 1000

CFMoto is also recalling their top of the line ZForce 1000 model.

CFMoto ZForce Recall Overview

CFMoto announced the recall of approximately 1,800 2018 ZForce 500 Trail, 800 Trail and 1000 SSV utility vehicles. The throttle pedal can be pushed past the throttle stop and not return to the idle position, posing a crash hazard. Owners should immediately stop using the vehicles and contact their local CFMoto dealer for a free repair.

This is a relatively small recall but for a smaller manufacturer like CFMoto it represents a larger percentage of their overall vehicle sales. CFMoto’s ZForce product line is a recreational line of utility vehicles while the UForce lineup is more work oriented. The company is a leading provider of ATVs and large displacement motorcycles in China and has been fairly successful in the US. In the UTV market, they have focused on the lower end of the price scale offering vehicles that have a lot of standard features.

SVR tracks recalls of golf cars, PTVs, LSVs and utility vehicles. The following detailed recall information is from the Consumer Product after Commission.

ZForce Recall Details

Name of product:  Recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs)
Hazard:  The throttle pedal can be pushed past the throttle stop and not return to the idle position, posing a crash hazard.
Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  October 31, 2018
Units:  About 1,800
Consumer Contact:  CFMOTO toll-free at 888-823-6686 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, email at info@cfmotousa.com or online at www.cfmotousa.com and click on Customer Care and then Vehicle Recall for more information.

Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves 2018 ZFORCE 500 Trail, 800 Trail and 1000 SSV CFMOTO recreational off-highway vehicles with 500cc to 1000cc, 4-cycle engines. The recalled ZFORCE vehicles have “CFMOTO” stamped on the front grille, a “CFMOTO” decal on the bottom of the cab frame and a “ZFORCE” decal located on each side of rear box compartment. CFMOTO ZFORCE vehicles were sold in orange, blue, red and gray. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is located on the right-side frame rail just forward of the right rear tire.
Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact a CFMOTO dealer to schedule a free repair. CFMOTO is contacting all registered owners directly.
Incidents/Injuries:  None reported
Sold At:  CFMOTO dealers nationwide from January 2018 through July 2018 for between $9,000 and $14,000.
Manufacturer(s):  Zhejiang CFMOTO Power Co. Ltd, of China
Importer(s):  CFMOTO Powersports Inc., of Plymouth, Minn.
Distributor(s):  CFMOTO Powersports Inc., of Plymouth, Minn.
Manufactured In:  China
Recall number:  19-711

John Deere Recalls XUV590 Gator UTVs

John Deere XUV590 S4

The John Deere is recalling the XUV590 S4 Gator utility vehicle due to a throttle cable issue.

The two-passenger John Deere XUV590 is part of the recall as well.

John Deere XUV590 Recall

John Deere is recalling XUV590 and XUV590 S4 Gator utility vehicles sold between September 2017 and August 2018 due to a powertrain issue. The powertrain hardware can become loose and cause the throttle cable to stick. As a result, the operator may not be able to stop the vehicle. The recall involves approximately 4,700 vehicles including 200 in Canada. To date John Deere is reporting no injuries because of this issue. Vehicle owners should stop using the vehicles immediately and contact their local John Deere dealer for a free inspection and repair.

Compared to John Deere’s overall Gator utility vehicle sales, this recall is fairly large but small compared to typical recalls in the industry. SVR maintains an ongoing list of recent recalls of UTVs, golf cars and LSVs.

The following recall information is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Name of product:  John Deere XUV590 and XUV590 S4 Gator™ utility vehicles
Hazard:  The powertrain hardware can come loose, causing the throttle to stick. This could result in the operator not being able to stop the vehicle, posing a crash hazard.

Remedy:  Repair
Recall date:  September 11, 2018
Units:  About 4,700 (In addition, about 200 were sold in Canada)
Consumer Contact:  Deere & Company at 800-537-8233 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, or online at www.deere.com and click on “Product Recall Information” on the drop-down menu under “Services & Support” for more information.

Recall Details

Description:  This recall involves John Deere Gator utility vehicles with model number “XUV590” or “XUV590 S4” printed on the hood. “John Deere” and “Gator” are printed on the cargo box. The serial number is located on the frame on the rear of the machine above the hitch and begins with 1M0590 and falls within the ranges on the chart below. The recalled utility vehicles were sold in green and yellow, olive drab and camouflage and have four-wheel suspension with side-by-side seating for two or four people.

Serial Number Range

1M0590EAxxM010001 – 1M0590EAxxM020029

1M0590EBxxM010001 – 1M0590EBxxM020004

1M0590EDxxM010001 – 1M0590EDxxM010014

1M0590EExxM010001 – 1M0590EExxM010008

1M0590MAxxM010001 – 1M0590MAxxM020071

1M0590MBxxM010001 – 1M0590MBxxM020025

1M0590MDxxM010001 – 1M0590MDxxM010018

1M0590MExxM010001 – 1M0590MExxM010012

1M0590MFxxM010001 – 1M0590MFxxM020004

1M0590MGxxM010001 – 1M0590MGxxM010049

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact an authorized John Deere dealer for a free inspection and repair. John Deere is contacting all known purchasers directly.

Incidents/Injuries:  John Deere has received two reports of the throttle cable sticking. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At:  John Deere dealers nationwide from September 2017 through August 2018 for between $10,000 and $13,000.

Manufacturer(s):  Deere & Company, of Moline, Ill.

Manufactured In:  U.S.
Recall number:  18-766

Planned Development Communities As Incubators For Future Mobility

Eli Zero NEV

The new Eli Zero NEV from Eli Electric Vehicles is expected to reach market in late 2018 and is positioned as an urban transportation solution and future mobility concept.

My colleague Stephen Metzger recently wrote a piece on how gated communities could serve as an excellent incubator for testing future mobility systems. These systems include on-demand vehicles, self-driving and autonomous driving technology, ride-sharing systems, and new public transport options. Future mobility concepts typically feature electric vehicles being used in urban environments. He argues that the urban environment presents a myriad of obstacles and complexities for future mobility to overcome and solve, but gated communities offer a simpler but still useful testing ground for future mobility concepts.

Some of the advantages for gated communities include:

  • A better planned transportation environment into which mobility concepts can more easily be introduced
  • Population already using or conditioned to small, electric vehicles like golf cars and LSVs
  • Portion of the population that cannot drive themselves and could benefit from greater mobility

The article concludes with some examples of new small, electric vehicles with an eye towards future mobility that are entering or trying to break into the market.

Learn more:  Smallvehicleresource.com


Ingersoll-Rand Q4 2017 Earnings

Club Car Tempo 4Fun

The four-person Club Car Tempo 4Fun fills out the new fleet line, which Ingersoll-Rand expects to help maintain momentum in their Small Electric Vehicle business.

Ingersoll-Rand, which makes a range of commercial and industrial products including Club Car golf cars and utility vehicles, recently reported Q4 2017 financial results. For the quarter net revenues increased 8% to $3.6 billion from $3.4 billion and for the year they increased 5% to $14.2 billion from $13.5 billion. Club Car revenues account for only a small portion of the overall revenues. The Industrial segment, which includes Club Car, reported Q4 net revenues of $858 million, a 7% increase from $800 million in Q4 of the previous year.

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

  • The Small Electric Vehicle portion of the Industrial segment grew low teens percent on strength in both vehicle and aftermarket sales, particularly in North America
  • The Club Car Tempo Connect golf car was just launched at the recent PGA Show.

Guidance for 2018

  • Industrial segment revenue overall is expected to increase 5.5% to 6.0%
  • Golf/Utility/Consumer end markets are expected to increase mid-single digits
  • Golf utility vehicles and consumer vehicles combined are generally expected to be flat to slightly up across the globe.
  • Consumer vehicle continues to grow at a nice clip.
  • Utility vehicles are also expected to have good growth in 2018.
  • The golf market is expected to remain roughly flat

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (Earnings Call Transcript)

Nikola Powersports Reveals 2019 NZT UTV Lineup

Nikola NZT

The electric powered Nikola NZT is slated to hit the market in early 2019.

Nikola NZT

Impressive performance specs put the Nikola NZT in direct competition with high end performance UTVs.

Nikola Powersports revealed their four model lineup of UTVs that will be available in 2019 under the new Nikola NZT brand. The four initial models include the NZT 440, NZT 352, NZT 280 and NZT 198. The numbers represent the kW output. There are actually 10 different vehicle configurations planned based on the combination of drivetrain kW and the battery pack size. The entry level NZT 198 weighs in at 2,300 lbs. and pricing starts at $28,900. There will be 75kWh, 100kWh and 125 kWh battery options that translate into 90-150 miles of range. Top end models can start at $45,900. Production is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018 and be in dealerships for Spring 2019. Reservations with no deposit down can be made on the company’s website.

Some of the more interesting aspects and capabilities of the NZT UTV according to management include:

  • 0-60 mph in 3.5 to 5.3 seconds depending on the model
  • Depending on the model the NZT has 266-590 hp and 412-722 ft lbs of torque
  • Motors and gears at each wheel eliminates any belt related problems and delivers instant power, better acceleration and regenerative stopping power
  • Regenerative braking and 14″ disc brakes create double the stopping power and extend life of disc brakes by 3 or 4 times
  • Gear reduction at each wheel provides torque of up to 2,346 ft-lbs per wheel
  • Battery packs weigh from 500 lbs to 1,500 lbs depending on size
  • A DC fast charger can charge the battery pack in as little as 3 hours
  • Lower center of gravity than traditional gas powered UTVs
  • 4″ more legroom than the competition
  • 4G uplink for over-the-air software updates
  • Pin based login instead of keys
  • IP67 rating on all parts provides the vehicle the ability to survive being submerged in water

Additional key features, capabilities and specs of the NZT include:

  • Seating for 4
  • 400V AC Motors
  • 266 hp to 590 hp
  • 75kWh, 100kWh and 125 kWh Lithium Ion battery pack
  • Single gear reduction at each wheel
  • On-demand 2WD/4WD at any speed
  • Regenerative braking and active descent control
  • 20″ of front and rear suspension travel
  • FOX 3.0 Podium Internal Bypass Shocks
  • 33″ Kevlar reinforced tires on 17″ aluminum Method beadlock wheels
  • 14″ of ground clearance
  • EPS
  • 4,500 lb winches front and rear
  • 151″ x 62″ x 74″ LxWxH and 118″ wheelbase
  • Dry Weight:  2,300-4,400 lbs depending on battery pack
  • 3,000 lb. towing capacity
  • Roll cage made of 2″ DOM A-513 military grade steel
  • 12.2″ infotainment display and 7″ instrument cluster
  • 4 USV and two 12V outlets
  • Digital gauge
  • Bluetooth
  • LED headlights, tail and brake lights
  • Optional anti-lock braking
  • Optional Anti-roll over and stability control

Learn more:  Nikolamotor.com

Nikola Powersports kicked off the NZT launch with a high quality video taking direct aim at what will be their competition in the high end performance UTV market. The video shows the NZT giving a couple competing UTVs including a Polaris XP Turbo a sizable head start before catching them and leaving them in the dust over a variety of terrain.

This is another significant step towards Nikola delivering on their initial promise of an all electric, high performance UTV. While they still have to take the major steps of going into production and then actually delivering vehicles, the prototype and a large part of the testing phase appears to have been completed. Obviously the Nikola NZT UTV is going to be very expensive but the lowest priced model is certainly within the price points of the current high end of the market. For example the RZR XP 4 Turbo Dynamix Edition starts at $28,499 and the RZR XP 4 Turbo FOX Edition at $25,499. In addition, even the entry level vehicle promises to provide significant performance advantages over the existing gas-powered vehicles. They are following a similar playbook to Tesla in that they are attacking the high end of the market first and no doubt plan to move down the pricing scale. The real test will be how the existing high end users will take to the Nikola NZT. I assume as Nikola gets closer to actually bringing the vehicle to market, they will be putting some vehicles in the hands of some high profile users. It will be interesting to see their reactions.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Polaris General 1000 EPS Reviews

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

The base model General 1000 EPS is Indy Red with an MSRP of $15,999.

The base model General 1000 EPS is Indy Red with an MSRP of $16,299.

The Polaris General 1000 EPS was developed by Polaris to fill the void between the RZR lineup designed for recreational riding and the Ranger lineup designed primarily for work or utility applications with some recreational use. The General sits in the middle as more of a true recreational-utility crossover vehicle.

The General 1000 EPS is powered by a 100 hp, 999cc ProStar engine with EFI and engine braking system standard. It also has On-Demand True AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode. The high performance close ratio AWD will automatically engage all four wheels when more traction is needed and then revert back to 2WD when more traction is no longer needed. Other features include:

  • Broad torque range – 65 ft. lbs. of torque
  • Electronic Power Steering
  • 12.25″/13.2″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 12″ of ground clearance
  • Front and rear sway bars and dual rate springs to maintain clearance under load
  • 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
  • 27″ Maxxis Coronado tires
  • Cast aluminum wheels
  • 600 lb. capacity dump cargo bed
  • 1,500 lb. towing capacity
  • LED lighting
  • Half doors
  • Bolstered bucket seats
  • Tilt steering
  • Adjustable drive seat
  • MSRP:  $16,299

Compared to the Ranger XP 1000 EPS the General offers less cargo and towing capacity but more horsepower, more speed, more suspension travel, half doors and larger tires.

The following are some of the comments from various expert and user reviews of the Polaris General 1000 EPS. Some common themes across the reviews include:

  • General is a good crossover vehicle that handles both trail riding and work applications
  • Powerful and fast with good torque
  • Interior comfort and ergonomics better than RZR and Ranger with nice seats and instrument cluster
  • Doors protect against the elements well and allow for easy ingress/egress
  • Good suspension and ride

www.utvguide.net – Test ride for a day in New Mexico

  • Suspension borrowed from RZR S 900/1000 works well and many aftermarket parts are available for customizing
  • Good engine power and torque and placement behind cab limits noise
  • Comfortable and roomy seats
  • Well proportioned bed for the range of crossover uses
  • Doors work great and offer protection from elements
  • Well positioned instrument cluster
  • No turf mode (Note: This doesn’t seem to be true as the specs list Versa Trac Turf Mode)
  • Would prefer a larger tire size for rock crawling and clearance in the desert or mud riding
  • Better equipped versions like the Deluxe edition are pricey
  • Overall the General fills a hole in Polaris offerings and the overall feature set is better than competitors.

www.fourwheeler.com – Day of test riding near Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • “Great for dirt sport enthusiasts who need a versatile, all-wheel-drive utilitarian side-by-side.”
  • Low-range gearing worked well on steep inclines and rocky trail conditions
  • Speed reached 60+ mph even at elevation
  • AWD “terrific” for trail riding
  • “…Quite capable of traversing snow, mud, sand and other terrain and doing so with ease…”
  • Agile, powerful and fun to drive
  • Roomier interior than the RZR or Ranger
  • Comfortable seats
  • Seats and center console an improvement over the RZR and Ranger
  • Doors provide good protection from the elements and offer better ingress/egress than the RZR or Ranger
  • Solid at soaking up bumps on the trail
  • Rides level and has sway bars to reduce body roll
  • Engine Braking System performed well
  • Hydraulic assist dump bed is selling point
  • Really good choice for a crossover vehicle

Dirttraxtelevision Video – Review of Polaris General 1000 EPS Deluxe

  • Deluxe version with FOX QS3 is great because of the easy to adjust 3-position shocks for soft, medium or firm.
  • Rides great – plush suspension but avoids bottoming out
  • Awesome power and excellently tuned clutches
  • Good torque
  • Close to 80 mph on top end
  • Seat position more upright than RZR but more laid back than Ranger
  • Easy ingress and egress with doors
  • Instrument panel moves with tilt steering
  • “Highest quality and best laid out interior from Polaris, ever” and more car like than any side-by-side on the market
  • Center console cover is not padded and is slippery as an armrest
  • Performs both recreational and work applications well

User Video – Polaris General 1000 walk around and short drive

  • Tops out at 71 mph
  • Comments on video
    • 0-60 mph took 7.0 seconds
    • Good crossbreed between RZR and Ranger
    • Better seating and more legroom than RZR

www.polarisgeneralforum.com – Comments from various users on General and in comparison to Honda Pioneer 1000. It is the 2016 Polaris General being discussed.

  • Car like dash and controls
  • Better seats than Pioneer – feel like you are sitting in the seat rather than on it
  • Quick
  • Sportier than Pioneer
  • Nicer than the RZR 900
  • Long discussion on the Polaris AWD system with auto-locking front differential vs. manual locking front differential in the context of more difficult riding such as rock crawling

Cub Cadet Challenger 700 Reviews

Cub Cadet Challenger 700

Cub Cadet Challenger 700

Cub Cadet introduced their Challenger UTV line in early 2015 with the Challenger 500 and Challenger 700 models. The models are similar with the main difference being a larger sized engine in the 700, 686cc vs. 471cc. The models are positioned as offering excellent value for the price with a host of standard features including a hard-top roof, quick-release windshield, winch with remote, alloy wheels and digital display. The MSRP for the Challenger 500 is $8,499 (see model specs) and the Challenger 700 is $9,499. SVR interviewed the Marketing Director and discussed at length the new Challenger line and future development plans.

I found fewer reviews for the Challenger 700 but did find an expert review from UTV Action. The had tested the Challenger 500 at Moab’s Rally on the Rocks. Some of the key takeaways from their test drive:

  • The Challenger 700 can reach speeds up to around 60 mph in high gear and above 40 mph in low gear but can take time to reach those speeds.
  • The transmission and 4WD worked well with quick engagement and smooth operation.
  • It corners well in 2WD but steering gets heavier in 4WD without EPS. The relatively short wheelbase and torsion bars are good for tight trails.
  • The relatively low 7.3″ of suspension travel limits it ability on more challenging terrain but it handles typical trail obstacles satisfactorily.
  • “Excellent in rocks and good in mud”
  • Very strong brakes for steeper terrain.
  • Good ergonomics in the cockpit and nice creature comforts.

Overall, they seemed to have pushed the Challenger 700 hard and came away with a positive impression for the vehicle.

There was limited user generated reviews but I did find some comments on a UTV forum.

  • Overall the two users seemed satisfied with the Challenger 700.
  • A-arms needed to be greased upon first purchasing.
  • Exhaust valves needed to be adjusted.
  • Top speed of 55 mph reported.
  • The hitch is “quirky” because of existing pin hole placement.

If you are looking to purchase this model please note that Cub Cadet recalled some of these vehicles in early 2016 because of an issue with the parking brake cable failing.

If you have had any experience using this vehicle, please leave a comment below.

GPS Industries Reports Strong Start For Telematics In 2015

One of the Visage system's screen views. GPS Industries has partnered with Club Car to provide the Visage system for fleet management and content delivery.

One of the Visage system’s screen views. GPS Industries has partnered with Club Car to provide the Visage system for fleet management and content delivery.

GPS Industries reports that they have signed more than 100 installation contracts to date to provide telematics and fleet tracking technology. Properties now using the technology include The Phoenician (AZ), Turnberry Isle Resort (FL), Omni Interlocken (CO) and Journey at Pechanga (CA).

GPSI has an exclusive partnership with Club Car whose Connected Precedent i3 golf car showcases the Visage Mobile Golf Information System and recently-launched Visage Media Network. The mixture of technology and software allows properties from golf courses to master-planned communities to track, control and deliver promotional content.

According to GPSI, “The Visage system offers hole-by-hole graphics and flyovers, scoring and gaming, on-course food and beverage ordering, and addressable promotional messages on high-resolution 10-inch touch screens mounted to Club Car Precedent golf cars. Featuring in excess of 75 million-plus page views monthly, the Visage Media Network represents the largest connected global audience of golfers.” The company is also working on new applications to leverage the platform for social media and user generated content.

The appeal for golf courses and the like is that they can reduce costs through better fleet management, increase revenues from food service and promotions and provide a better experience for their customers. Learn more:  GIuser.com