Archive for the ‘electric’ Category

Polaris Launches Electric Vehicle

July 16, 2009

First New Product for On-Road Division

Polaris Industries, Inc., the suburban Minneapolis powersports manufacturer, today (July 16, 2009) entered the electric vehicle market with the announcement of its new low emission neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV),  the Breeze.

Polaris' new neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), the Breeze.

Polaris' new neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), the Breeze.

It’s the first new product for the company’s On-Road Division, which Polaris organized this year. As we told you here two months ago, it’s one of several new products that the company likely had under development for the on-road market. The other two possibilities are a scooter and a sport bike.

Additional new products could be announced next week when Polaris holds its dealer meeting.

As we wrote here in May, there seems to be a market for an efficient, reasonably-priced vehicle that can be used in gated communities and other neighborhood developments. As we wrote at that time, Polaris is a company that prides itself on its innovation, can be the one to do so.

In its announcement today about the Breeze, Polaris said the vehicle is designed for “multiple consumer uses such as golfing, comfortably transporting up to four passengers, or easily carrying light cargo loads.”

The Breeze is targeted at consumers living in master planned communities.

It’s expected to be available in limited quantities for test rides and purchase in selected markets in September. Polaris says it will be sold through “Polaris Neighborhood Vehicle” dealerships, but it didn’t provide any details about those dealerships.

I’ve asked Polaris for specs on the Breeze but haven’t received them yet. I’ll give you the details when I learn more.

In the meantime, watch this space and dealernews.com for more information on the Breeze.

Dealernews.com also will have more information from Polaris today following its conference call with investors this morning where management will  announce 2Q earnings and discuss other company issues. Hopefully, they will provide details on the Breeze and, possibly, provide hints about other new on-road products. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas
at 952/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com.

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Tomberlin Launches Anvil Electric Vehicle

June 29, 2009

Promotes Anvil on CBS Early Show Today

Mike Tomberlin, the fellow I featured in my column in the July 2009 issue of Dealernews magazine, went public this morning on the CBS News Early Show promoting his latest electric vehicle, the aggressively styled Anvil. You can see the video clip here.

ANVIL-PathwayBurgundyTomberlin is CEO of the Tomberlin Group, a diversified manufacturing and distribution company based in Augusta, GA. Tomberlin also produces an elecctric on-road vehicle, dubbed the e-Merge, that is basically a modified golf cart.

In a related “green” move, Tomberlin recently purchased the Schwinn scooter business from Dorel Industries of Montreal. You can find out more about the Tomberlin Group here.

The Anvil can hit 25 mph on highways with speed limits of 35 mph, and it can go at least 30 miles on a charge, Tomberlin said on the show. The range (more…)

Ecowatercraft Hopes to Offer Electric PWC

June 4, 2009

EcoWatercraft is a company planning to be the first all electric personal watercraft manufacturer to go into production.
eco_logo
The company is the brainchild of founder Barrett Taylor. Taylor says, as a collegiate triathlete, he often swam amongst extremely heavy fumes expelled from the personal watercraft patrolling the swim site – something that coaxed him to look more closely at the health implications of breathing in toxic fumes and served as inspiration to assemble a team dedicated to bringing an electric personal watercraft to market.

Why electric? According to Taylor, the ECO emits no emissions, operates in complete silence, expands PWC use by being permitted on many lakes that restrict gasoline vehicles, benefits from acceleration inherent in electric vehicles, and offers convenience by requiring no fuels, oil or maintenance.

Sounds good, right? Many “green” blogs and websites appear to think so. However, there are a couple of statements that show a glaring lack of industry knowledge.

First, EcoWatercraft claims it “will be the first American personal watercraft corporation.” In fact, Minnesota-based powersports manufacturers Arctic Cat and Polaris were in the market years ago.

Second, Ecowatercraft says it “will provide the most customer oriented experience in the personal watercraft industry.” Dubious, since they’ll first have to gain the financial strength equal to or greater than companies like Kawasaki, Yamaha, BRP and Honda. Plus, they’ll likely be selling through the same dealers as those other OEMs.

Finally, Ecowatercraft, throughout its marketing literature, uses Kawasaki’s trademarked “JetSki” name in lieu of the general term of “personal watercraft.” A rookie mistake, for sure.

New Polaris On-Road Division Raises Questions

May 18, 2009

What New Products Will It Announce For This Division?
What Role Will Mark Blackwell Really Play?

Joe Delmont

Joe Delmont

The announcement today by Polaris Industries, Medina, Minn., that it is launching an “on-road vehicle division” is interesting from several perspectives.

Perhaps the most intriguing question the move raises is this: What new products will the innovative Minnesota OEM produce to fit into this segment alongside its popular Victory motorcycles? The move looks to bring the company one step closer to the “adjacent” industry that company executives have been talking about for several years.

Former Polaris CEO Tom Tiller often talked about the company’s planned move into “adjacent” industries— ones that could use Polaris’ existing technology and/or sell to its existing customer base.

Tiller’s replacement, Scott Wine, told analysts in April that,  “We remain on-track to announce a second adjacency later this year,” adding, “long-term, we’ve scaled back a little bit of our research and development in Victory and shifted some of those resources and funding to the front end of our business”

And Polaris President Bennett Morgan responded to an analyst’s question with: “We believe we’ve got some nice innovation coming in this adjacency that we are not talking about as well. So, we’ve got lots of good stuff….”

Indeed, Polaris did move outside the powersports industry recently when it signed a strategic alliance with Bobcat to jointly develop Bobcat branded products that will be introduced next year.

So, here’s what you might look for from Polaris to include in its new On-Road Vehicle Portfolio alongside Victory perhaps as soon as next month:

  1. An electric vehicle, probably a SXS model with two-wheel drive, that can be used in gated communities and other neighborhood developments. There’s been a lot of talk about electric vehicles, but so far nobody’s come up with a practical, efficient and economical machine. Perhaps Polaris, a company that prides itself on its innovation, can be the one to do so.
  2. A scooter, probably one in the 150cc size. We know that Polaris has been sourcing one in China for close to a year, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them introduce one at the beginning of this scooter season.
  3. A sport bike to capture the strong youth market and its desire for speed and performance. This may be a bit of a stretch, but there are reasons to believe it could happen. First, speed and performance are features that Polaris offers on the snow side and in its radically hot RZR side-by-side vehicle. And a top Polaris executive who has been added to the on-road group, Mark Blackwell, has a record as a champion racer. Even though he’s guided the successful growth of Victory, Mark’s comfort level may be closer to the sport bike than to the cruiser. In its announcement, Polaris noted that Blackwell’s “deep knowledge of products and markets in the motorcycle industry will continue to be an invaluable asset to the Victory brand and all other on-road vehicles.” (My italics added.)

The one problem with each of these products, though, is this: Can Polaris teach its dealers to sell these products, ones that are radically different from the Victory and from Polaris’ off-road products?

Staffing Questions

As part of the new organization, Blackwell has been named vice president of motorcycles. Meanwhile, Mike Jonikas, vice president of sales and corporate marketing, has been named vice president of the On-Road Vehicle Division; he’ll be responsible for growing the division. In a related move, Steve Menneto has been named general manger of Victory Motorcycles.

The question here is: How much responsibility will Blackwell have? In the recent past, he’s worn several hats for Polaris, at one time running both the Victory and International operations simultaneously. Hmmm, perhaps the sport bike idea isn’t so far off after all.

We’ll find out soon how this all plays out. Guido Ebert, the senior editor at Dealernews magazine, has a meeting scheduled at Polaris this week. It will be very interesting to hear what he finds out. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas
at 952/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com

Brammo Tests TTXGP Racer

May 12, 2009

Brammo, a privately held start-up manufacturer of electric vehicles, plans to take part in the upcoming TTXGP – a time trial competition open only to two-wheelers powered by clean emissions technologies – with a bike named the Enertia.

Scheduled for June 12, following the traditional Isle of Man TT, the TTXGP (Time Trials Xtreme Grand Prix) is to be held on the legendary Isle of Man Mountain Course, a 37.733-mile circuit with over 200 corner.

The TTXGP was concocted by British entrepreneur Azhar Hussain. Hussain says the event offers an opportunity for leading global innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow. The planned TTXGP will showcase a diverse range of vehicles capable of reaching race speeds. Teams are likely to be backed by international corporations, universities and high tech institutions, but all eager to prove their credentials in clean emission transportation.

“TTXGP is about competitive innovation – pushing the frontier and making the next leap,” Hussain says. Certainly a look, and listen, of Brammo’s test sessions suggest these bikes could indeed represent the future of motorcycling.

Brammo, founded in Ashland, Ore., in 2002, has said it plans to begin sales of the $11,995 Enertia at five Best Buy stores on the West Coast.

KTM Confirms Electric MX Model for 2011

April 23, 2009

KTM has confirmed plans to produce its previously unveiled electric off-road bike in 2010 for the 2011 model year.

As Dealernews reported in October 2008, KTM’s electric prototype weighs 200 pounds, develops approximately 35 hp, and can run for 40 minutes before recharging.
ktm_zeroemissions
KTM says the most important aspects of the project were that the machine have high power output, low weight and as long a range as possible using today’s technology. The OEM’s in-house research and development team worked on the project with Austrian firm Arsenal Research.

“The zero-emissions concept mates our known competencies with a new highly interesting motor technology,” said KTM director Harald Plöckinger. “We see emissions-free vehicles as offering the greatest chance to expand enduro sport to a wider and new audience in the mid- and long-term, and to perhaps even start a brand-new trend sport.”

Read more about KTM’s plans for 2009 at Dealernews.com.

‘Clean’ Cycles Prepping for Isle of Man TTXGP

January 28, 2009

History will be made on June 12 when the Isle of Man hosts the TTXGP – a time trial competition open only to two-wheelers powered by clean emissions technologies.
ttxgp_logo1
Concocted by British entrepreneur Azhar Hussain, the TTXGP (Time Trials Xtreme Grand Prix) is scheduled to be held on the legendary Isle of Man Mountain Course, a 37.733-mile circuit with over 200 corners, following the traditional Isle of Man TT.

Hussain says the event offers an opportunity for leading global innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow. The planned TTXGP will showcase a diverse range of vehicles capable of reaching race speeds. Racing teams are likely to be backed by international corporations, universities and high tech institutions, all eager to prove their credentials in clean emission transportation.

“TTXGP is about competitive innovation – pushing the frontier and making the next leap,” Hussain says.

Not only an event for well-funded corporations, the TTXGP also will offer an “Open” class race for innovative cottage teams who are interested in experimenting with alternative energy sources. These teams will be required to (more…)

Dealernews Rides the Vectrix VX-1E & VX-2

January 24, 2009

Electric two-wheeler specialist Vectrix Corp. last week unveiled its VX-1E and entry-level VX-2 scooters, two units that join the flagship VX-1 in the company’s line-up. I rode the two new models this week during a visit to the company’s headquarters facility in Rhode Island.

Vectrix’s VX-1 was introduced in 2007. The 2009 VX-1 will have refreshing new graphics in four colors:

2009 VX-1

2009 VX-1

white/burgundy red, white/metallic silver, white/sapphire blue and white/acid green. The unit weighs in at 515 pounds, has a 60-inch wheelbase and 30-inch seat height, and is outfitted with premium parts like Pirelli tires, a Marzocchi fork, Sachs rear shock and Pro Grip grips.

The only highway-legal electric scooter, the bike has a top speed of 62 mph, acceleration from 0-50 mph in 6.8 seconds, and an average range of 30-55 miles on a single charge. The aluminum-frame unit also features regenerative braking, which uses the energy absorbed by braking to recharge the batteries.

The newly introduced VX-1E uses the same platform and drive train as the original VX-1, yet features a

2009 VX-1E

2009 VX-1E

lower price point and slightly less acceleration and top speed. The difference in price and output comes as a result of its lead-acid batteries versus the VX-1’s nickel metal hydride batteries. Both models plug into a standard 110V/220V outlet, but only the VX-1 also offers regenerative braking.

The VX-1 models are full-size scooters, and feature handling and ergonomics similar to many of the other maxi-scoots I’ve piloted. Since they’re electric, they’re not the fastest scoots, but power lost on the top end is made up in off-the-line acceleration.

I’m 5’10” with a 32-inch inseam and sitting on the stock seat had me balanced on the balls of my feet at a standstill. However, using the lower and narrower accessory seat allowed me to plant both feet firmly on the ground. As for storage space, there’s not much on either unit – due to the eight-foot electrical cord stowed under the seat – but there is room for one full-faced helmet and a top case is available as an accessory.

The VX-2 was designed to be the electric equivalent of a 50cc internal combustion engine bike. It has a

2009 VX-2

2009 VX-2

weight of 429 pounds, a wheelbase of 54.5 inches and seat height of 29.9 inches. It features a 40-50 mile range, 30 mph top speed, and a 48V/20A battery charger that plugs into a standard 110V/220V outlet.

Sourced from China, the VX-2 is similar to the E-Max electric scoot yet carries styling to make it an undeniable part of the Vectrix family. The ergonomics and output are similar to gas-powered four-stroke 50cc units – convenient for putt-putting along surface streets or first-time riders but lacking any real excitement for experienced operators. A “boost’ button that draws more power for increased output to aid hill-climbing ability is a welcome feature, although overuse of it will drain the unit’s battery in a jiffy.

Vectrix’s plans for 2009 also include a new line of accessories for its VX-1 and VX-1E, among them: the previously mentioned lower, narrower seat and top case, a sport windshield about 7 inches lower than standard for riders who like the feel of wind in their face, and a winter windshield nearly 9 inches wider than standard.

The VX-1E is expected to arrive at dealerships in April with an MSRP of $8,495. The VX-2 is to be shipped in June with an MSRP of $5,195.

The 3-wheeled prototype uses an "H" shaped front suspension initially designed by the former Italjet.

The 3-wheeled prototype uses an "H" shaped front suspension initially designed by the former Italjet.

The Superbike prototype was unveiled in 2006 at the EICMA show in Milan.

The Superbike prototype was unveiled in 2006 at the EICMA show in Milan.

Visit Vectrix USA for more information.

Vectrix Shows Two New Electric Units

January 16, 2009

Vectrix Corporation today introduced its “entry-level” VX-2 and 2009 VX-1E urban commuting model at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in New York. These two new scoots join the VX-1 in Vectrix’s model line.

Available in green, blue, red, yellow and white, VX-2 is expected to arrive at dealers in June 2009 with an MSRP of $5,195.

The VX-1E uses the same platform and drive train as the original VX-1, yet features a lower price point and a more urban commuter driver profile with slightly less acceleration and top speed. VX-1E is expected to arrive at dealers in April with a MSRP is $8,495.

I’ll be test riding the Vectrix VX-2 and VX-1E next week. Stay tuned for more company information and a review of the bikes here and at Dealernews.com
2009vectrix