Archive for the ‘low speed vehicle’ Category

Don’t Look for Big Improvements in 2010

January 7, 2010

Personal, Business Bankruptcies Increase

Despite the Increasingly upbeat talk from Washington, I don’t see turnaround in 2010. And neither do a group of economists surveyed in January by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper. The consensus: The U.S. economy will perform as poorly this decade as it did during the last one which marked the worst performance since the 1930s. The recovery seen by some in the last half of 2009 was driven in large part by government stimulus programs, which will be cut back this year. And as cautious Americans are saving more, they’re spending less on big ticket toys such as motorcycles.

“It’s easy to be dismal about the U.S. economy,” said one economist, whose outlook was seconded by another: “We’re not likely to have robust growth anytime soon.” The one bright spot cited by several economists was strength in places such as China and India, which could stimulate U.S. exports. Unfortunately, I don’t see that helping the U.S. powersports industry much, expect for OEMs like Harley-Davidson and Polaris, which have made moves in both those countries. BRP also could stand to benefit from growth outside the U.S. because of its strong international base.

The turbulence that began in the powersports industry in 2008 continued last year and will drag on through 2010, I believe. The same problems that existed last year— lack of sufficient consumer and business credit, weakened consumer confidence, a languishing housing market, lack of any meaningful new powersports products, excessive non-current inventory at the dealer level, and increased fumbling by the federal government— will continue in 2010, dampening any hope of a substantial recovery in our industry this year.

In a nutshell, I see more of the same lackluster performance for our industry in 2010 that we saw last year, and I don’t look for any real improvement in the problems that plague consumers and small businesses until 2011 or perhaps 4Q 2010, at best.

(more…)

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.

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…)

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