Here is a not uncommon story from within the gates: You own a very nice (in your view) personal transportation vehicle, otherwise referred to as a PTV in industry parlance. In fact, it’s a good deal nicer (in your view) than Joe Smith’s next door. Something to be proud of, really. Coming to your front door early one morning, however, you observe something that puts a dent in your day: Joe has a new PTV, and it’s stunning.
It’s lifted, oversized tires, and fantastic rims, folding windshield, metallic violet base paint (never knew such a color existed), racing stripe trim, LED lights, incredible seat covers, and who knows what else in the interior. Putting ego aside, you ask Joe about his new rod. Turns out, it’s his old golf car, but with a makeover kit from Nivel. You’d never know it.
So Nivel, in very innovative fashion, has taken PTV popularity to a new level with a series of kits that aim to make your old, dusty PTV the talk of the neighborhood. You can check out these offerings at their website.
What does the market data show?
And you are not alone in the PTV craze. My company, Small Vehicle Resource, LLC, has just published a comprehensive market report, which shows a positive trend in sales of these vehicles and a forecast for continuing higher sales levels. Here are some of our findings:
- Trend data over the 2012-2016 post-recession period confirms the growing popularity of PTVs, with the market for new vehicles growing at an 11% clip;
- With golf course closings outpacing openings for almost a decade, used vehicle sales have been constrained as the supply of used vehicles has declined;
- The outlook is for continued growth in the new vehicle segment of the market—our forecast showing average compound gains of at least 5-7% through 2021.
- By 2021, the new vehicle segment of the market will be in the neighborhood of 70-75,000 units. Adding in used vehicles, where there is basically no growth, but which still comprise a significant share of the overall market, the total market should reach just over 140,000 units.
Developments that will further expand the market: Self-driving and lithium battery technologies
One of the most interesting developments in the automotive field has been the anticipation of the widespread introduction of self-driving technology. Much attention has been given to this technology, which has gravitated from engineering journals to the mainstream press.
Most of the attention, however, has been directed at on-road, conventional vehicles. Yet, in the market for small vehicles there is a clear opportunity for autonomous driving applications. (It turns out that the major golf car companies are seriously looking into this technology, although the interest is not publicized at the moment.)
You won’t find self-driving technology at your local dealer, as yet, but there are numerous demonstration projects underway, particularly on college and business campuses, where golf car-type transporters and shuttles are being used. Clearly, the costs of such systems (sensory, software, and actuator components) must come down in order for the technology to be a feasible application in PTVs and other small, golf car-type vehicles, but if history in electronics technology is any kind of indicator, fast-paced cost reductions will be on the way.
The promise of lithium—mainstreamed first by E-Z-GO Textron
The advantages of lithium batteries in terms of reduced weight, longer operating cycle, and reduced charge time are well known by this time, and E-Z-GO officially launched its lithium-based Elite series this year at the PGA Show in Orlando. The promise of lithium batteries is all this and in particular will work to reduce one of the major obstacles to PTV market expansion, that is, distance anxiety.
E-Z-GO will expand its initial focus on the fleet market to the PTV and utility vehicle market in short order, in my opinion, and other major golf car manufacturers will follow suit in the near future.
SVR’s new market report
Should you be interested in more detailed information on what we at SVR call “small, task-oriented vehicle” (STOV) markets and technology developments, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are in the market for a vehicle, 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.
About the author: Stephen Metzger, Managing Director, Small Vehicle Resource, LLC