Club Car, Inc.’s Mike Cotter, director, Commercial and Consumer Marketing, discusses the biggest ever upgrades to its flagship utility vehicle.
Q: How do you view the market for light utility vehicles in the next several years? If you see growth, what’s driving it?
A: According to our projections, global sales of all light vehicles into all markets (golf, commercial, consumer, new, used, etc.) will be around 545,000 units in 2016. Commercial light utility vehicle sales should be around 15 percent of that total. We expect to see double-digit growth within the category over the next few years.
The main reason for that growth is that businesses, facilities and individuals are becoming increasingly aware of better alternatives to what they are using today. They may be looking to become greener by switching from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles to electric ones or from diesel to gas. They may want to operate within a smaller footprint by using vehicles that weigh less and are gentler on turf.
Or, they may simply realize that full-size vehicles don’t make as much economic sense. For instance, our new Carryall vehicle, with our industry exclusive EFI engine, gets 38 mpg, doesn’t have to be registered or insured, can carry as much weight as a pickup and can go places a truck can’t, all at about half the price.
Q: What do you foresee as being the strongest market niches for the growth in sales and use of light utility vehicles?
A: The trend toward light utility vehicles away from full-size vehicles is affecting all markets. However, the strongest areas of growth from a vertical market perspective will be in education, rental, resort and hospitality, and state/local government. From a use perspective, I believe it will be in landscaping, grounds maintenance, facilities maintenance and security. These are all areas where Club Car does well.
Q: Let’s discuss Club Car’s new Carryall utility and transport vehicles. We understand they have received the most significant upgrade they’ve had in the past 20 years. Please share the major new features of the Carryall vehicles?
A: One of the most consequential changes was the switch to a 14-hp- rated, 404-cc, single-cylinder overhead-cam engine developed by Subaru. The engine features electronic fuel injection (EFI), capacitive discharge ignition, hemispherical heads (yes, it has a “hemi”) and a case-hardened steel timing chain that enhances reliability. No other vehicle in its class offers an EFI engine with this matrix of features and benefits.
We also made the vehicles the most versatile on the market by designing a configurable track-based attachment system that organizes and protects tools, leaf blowers, ladders and other equipment and frees valuable bed space. And we strengthened the aluminum bed box with a floor made of Rhino Lining, a durable material used in pickups.
Most new electric Carryalls now feature an industry-exclusive combination of an on-board, high-frequency solid-state charger with an integrated cord retractor as standard equipment. The charger increases efficiency by 10 percent over the old charger, and it can be plugged into any 110- or 240-volt outlet.
The new vehicles are also more automotive in style, with bigger cowls and long-lasting standard halogen head lights or optional LED lights integrated into the design. New contoured seating, restyled hip restraints and spacious driver areas and foot wells make them more comfortable and easier to enter and exit.
The Carryall has a brand-new canopy top with better drainage capability and the vehicle’s structure accommodates a new optional cab that’s integrated into the vehicle’s design, so it doesn’t look “bolted on.” Its doors and windshield sit flush with the frame, keeping wind and rain out. Cab-to-vehicle interface points make it easier to install, without an adapter kit.
Q: Why did Club Car opt for the Subaru 14-hp overhead-cam engine for its gasoline model?
A: We wanted an EFI engine for more power, and to let our customers avoid the problems associated with carburetors and chokes. We went with Subaru because they are leaders in implementing EFI technology into smaller engines.
Subaru delivered, creating an engine that’s sophisticated, easy to maintain and really boosts performance. In independent testing conducted by the accredited and industry-respected engineering firm, Applied Technical Services, the Carryall 500 outperformed its three top competitors in acceleration and hill-climbing speed, even when fully loaded.
The Carryall also demonstrated much better fuel economy than its top competitors. It delivered 38 mpg, 10 mpg more than its closest competitor. When you combine that with the fact that our new engine requires no oil filter changes and fewer regular service procedures, many customers could see up to an additional $100 in maintenance savings as well. And that’s just in year one.
We’re so confident in the engine that we’ve upgraded the warranty from two years/2,000 hours to three years/3,000 hours limited warranty standard on all new Carryall and Transporter models.