Club Car Takes a New Direction

While I usually feature vehicles for the consumer market, this column takes somewhat of a different direction, because you could well see the Club Car 4ll utility vehicle moving about your gated community.  It is ideally designed for the typical maintenance and upkeep chores required in the community and has the benefits of a smaller, less obtrusive footprint, compared to a pickup truck, and being a plug-in fully electric vehicle, it is quieter and non-polluting.
The genesis of the vehicle—with the Club Car nameplate–is also interesting and departure from Club Car’s usual, in-house product development and manufacturing strategy.  Here is the overview, followed by an exclusive interview with a major Club Car dealer on the Westcoast, Brian Rott, giving his thoughts on how the vehicle fits into his sales and service strategy.
Club Car 411 Overview
Earlier this year Club Car introduced the Club Car 411 utility vehicle, an all-electric vehicle for cargo services and low speed logistics. The 411 is the result of a partnership between Club Car and AEV Technologies, a manufacturer of light-duty battery-electric vehicles. The partnership combines AEV’s expertise in design and manufacturing with the dealer network and brand power of Club Car.
Is  There More to Come?
AEV Technologies also  produces the 311, a three-wheeled “commuter” vehicle for the consumer market, pictured above, and the 511, a 4WD upgrade in capabilities to the 411.  Will the Club Car connection extend to these vehicles, as well?
Club Car 411 Target Market
The Club Car 411 is targeting the space between full-sized trucks and smaller golf car based utility vehicles. The partners designed the vehicles to have a lower cost of acquisition, operation and overall ownership while meeting the demand for clean energy vehicles.  Typical uses would be on corporate and college campuses, in warehouses, in municipal fleets, and in planned municipal communities, including gated communities.
Vehicle Capabilities  
The Club Car 411 comes in three basic configurations: a van box, a pickup with sides and a flatbed. The vehicles have a curb weight of approximately 2,100 lbs., depending on the configuration and a payload capacity of 1,100 lbs.  As an LSV, the top speed is 25 mph, with a range of 50 miles.  A 10 Kw, 13.4 hp AC motor paired with a 240A AC controller powers the rear-wheel vehicle.  The six sealed lead acid batteries provide a range of up to 50 miles.
Standard Features & Options
Standard features include a backup camera, 7″ LCM display, reinforced ABS body panels and cabin heating. The 411 has a reinforced steel chassis, 4-wheel, hydraulic disc brakes and power assist steering. Options include fleet management systems including GPS and geofencing.
An Evaluation
Pros:  Nicely configured for gated community utility functions, and is fully weatherized for all season use.
Cons:  Does not feature lithium power, possibly because of cost considerations.  The lead acid battery pack  has only a two-year warranty, as well.
Success in the marketplace will depend on the sales efforts of local dealers.  Many dealers in the Club Car dealer network have as their principal focus the consumer market, largely a walk-in sales experience.  The commercial segment is, by contrast, a “go-to” type of market.
External salespeople will be required.  Success will also depend on Club Car management’s willingness to put an investment into dealer training and liberal inventory financing.
The following is an interview with Brian Rott, one of Club Car’s most successful dealers.  I quired him on the 411, and how it fits into his marketing and sales strategy.  Here are questions I posed to him and his responses:
Interview with Brian Rott, President of Cart Mart, Inc.
Under the guidance of CEO Brian Rott, Cart Mart has expanded from its beginnings in San Marcos, CA to now four dealerships throughout California’s Southland.  Cart Mart is an authorized dealer for Club Car, Yamaha, Garia, and Polaris GEM.  Cart Mart will be adding the 411 to its vehicle offerings.
IGC (Inside the Gated Community):  What is it you particularly like about the 411 as a utility vehicle product?  (it would be good to cite specific specifications.) 
Brian:  The new Club Car 411 addresses a market of commercial users seeking a more automotive fit and finish, packed inside a small electric LSV.  For short distance loads the 411 provides a great solution to a car or truck.
IGC:  Brian, I know you have a well-developed business on the commercial side.  How does the 4ll extend or enhance this side your business?
Brian:  We’ve been selling into the commercial space since day 1 and have always taken great pride in aligning ourselves with innovative manufacturers who understand what the customers need and where the industry is headed. The 411 enhances our product lineup to the LSV category which is growing steadily.
IGC:  What are the market segments that, in your opinion, the 411 would appeal to in particular (e.g., municipalities, warehousing, construction, agriculture, etc.)?
Brian:  We will likely see the 411 thrive in the educational vertical (colleges and universities) but also a vehicle like the 411 could open up new markets for the delivery of goods and services in urban and high density neighborhoods.
IGC:  Do you see the 411 substituting for ICE vehicle, i.e., pickup trucks, primarily, or do you see a unique market niche developing for it?
Brian:  Absolutely. The category of small task oriented vehicles is growing fast and small vehicles, especially LSV’s like the 411, are eating the automotive industries lunch.  Albeit we are only taking the crumbs, but soon it will be a larger bite of the sandwich.
IGC:  And what about gated communities, will the 411 have a market in this segment?
Brian:  I’m not betting the 411 will start showing up in my neighborhood, or yours, anytime soon. Unless of course, it’s carrying my wife’s Amazon prime packages.
IGT:  Have you had any early customer reaction to the vehicle?
Brian:  Most of the response we’ve received has been very positive. Most notably, the styling, capacity and features are all impressive.
IGT:  I believe the vehicle is powered by six 12-volt, VRLA sealed batteries.  Is there a lithium battery option for the vehicle?  If not, would it not be desirable to have one?  (Reduces weight, adds to range, faster recharge.)
Brian:  Lithium Ion is the wave of the future and most certainly will be available in time, hopefully by 2020.
IGT:  Brian, you have been supporting recent California State legislation, which encourages local communities and municipalities to include low-speed vehicles in their transportation systems.  How might the 411 enhance the prospects for the adoption of LSV-friendly systems?
Brian:  The 411, and other vehicles like this, will grow to become more relevant in both commercial, consumer and municipal uses.  So, it’s only a matter of time until we see these vehicles showing up on street corners throughout America.  It’s going to take a little time, and a lot of work, but there’s no doubt that governments everywhere, including California, will make room for these vehicles. It only makes sense.
IGT:  What is it you particularly like about the 411 as a utility vehicle product?  (it would be good to cite specific specifications.)
Brian:  The new Club Car 411 addresses a market of commercial users seeking a more automotive fit and finish, packed inside a small electric LSV.  For short distance loads the 411 provides a great solution to a car or truck.
IGT:  Brian, I know you have a well-developed business on the commercial side.  How does the 4ll extend or enhance this side your business?
Brian:  We’ve been selling into the commercial space since day 1 and have always taken great pride in aligning ourselves with innovative manufacturers who understand what the customers need and where the industry is headed. The 411 enhances our product lineup to the LSV category which is growing steadily.
IGT:  What are the market segments that, in your opinion, the 411 would appeal to in particular (e.g., municipalities, warehousing, construction, agriculture, etc.)?
Brian:  We will likely see the 411 thrive in the educational vertical (colleges and universities) but also a vehicle like the 411 could open up new markets for the delivery of goods and services in urban and high density neighborhoods.
IGT:  Do you see the 411 substituting for ICE vehicle, i.e., pickup trucks, primarily, or do you see a unique market niche developing for it?
Brian:  Absolutely. The category of small task oriented vehicles is growing fast and small vehicles, especially LSV’s like the 411 are eating the automotive industries lunch. Albeit we are only taking the crumbs, but soon it will be a larger bite of the sandwich.
IGT:  And what about gated communities, will the 411 have a market in this segment?
Brian:  I’m not betting the 411 will start showing up in my neighborhood, or yours, anytime soon. Unless of course, it’s carrying my wife’s amazon prime packages.
IGT:  Have you had any early customer reaction to the vehicle?
Brian:  Most of the response we’ve received has been very positive. Most notably, the styling, capacity and features are all impressive. 
IGT:  I believe the vehicle is powered by six 12-volt, VRLA sealed batteries.  Is there a lithium battery option for the vehicle?  If not, would it not be desirable to have one?  (Reduces weight, adds to range, faster recharge.)
Brian:  Lithium Ion is the wave of the future and most certainly will be available in time, hopefully by 2020.
IGT:  Brian, you have been supporting recent California State legislation, which encourages local communities and municipalities to include low-speed vehicles in their transportation systems.  How might the 411 enhance the prospects for the adoption of LSV-friendly systems?
Brian:  The 411, and other vehicles like this will grow to become more relevant in both commercial, consumer and municipal uses so it’s only a matter of time until we see these vehicles showing up on street corners throughout America.  It’s going to take a little time, and a lot of work, but there’s no doubt that governments everywhere, including California, will make room for these vehicles. It only makes sense.
Brian’s Vision…
Brian’s vision can be summed up in his words, “…we see these vehicles showing up on street corners throughout America.”  And when the 411 is delivering Amazon Prime packages to Brian’s wife, you can bet this type of vehicle will be doing just that.
Contact the Author: Steve Metzger at smetzger@smallvehicleresource.com.  Or check out our website at www.smallvehicleresource.com, where you will find an extensive database of vehicle models and can make side-by-side comparisons of vehicles based on a full set of specifications.

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