November 2018 November 2018 - Page 21

ed, is the fact that most of the market seg- ments in the STOV industry are maturing and experiencing slow growth. Even the vaunted Polaris, with its incredible record of growth, disclosed the fact, in its last quarterly earn- ings report, that, indeed, overall industry growth is negligible. We at SVR have been pointing out in our last two major, strategic reports that even the off-road utility and recreational market was slowing and that the glory days of double-digit growth—for the overall market and probably for most of its participants—were over. And, of course, everyone knows that the golf car market is slowly declining. These vehicles, as they are developed, will have a profound effect on the way we nav- igate in and out of our gated communities, adding more efficient and more powerful electric motors, innovative controls, and vast- ly improved batteries for greater distance. These are products and components would not be specifically developed for the STOV industry as we now know it, because the market is too small to provide the necessary incentives. Once fixed on the much broader market of urban mobility and individualized transportation as a service, the time and investment for such new products becomes increasingly available. Into this stagnating business environment TSV made its move to become a big play- er. Growth can hide a plethora of missteps in planning and execution, but if its no- or slow-growth, the warts become highly visible. The battle for position in the industry comes down to gaining market share, and that in turn, spins around distribution and service. Distribution can expand your market; service assures you maintain it. Is there a place for the big three in the urban mobility space? Growth requires a new vision So, are there growth opportunities for the big three companies we associate with golf cars and which have, viz., Textron, moved into adjacent markets? I believe the answer is, yes, but a new vision is needed. (By the way, no need to worry about your E-Z-GO product, or the Cushman work vehicles. You’ll still get the solid performance you’ve been used to over the years.) The growth vehicle (pardon the expression) will, however, revolve around issues of urban mobility. Small vehicle solutions to the prob- lems of congestion and pollution are crop- ping up around the world, although mostly in Europe, initiated quite often by start-ups. The answer to that is, yes, but, as noted above a new strategic vision is needed. Urban mobility startups don’t need a lot of encouragement. They have the vision and the enthusiasm, and have demonstrated the ability to attract the attention of venture capi- tal firms. By comparison, you have the tradi- tional golf car manufacturers headed by giant corporations, in the case of the big three, and, as far as I can see, are doing little, so far, to seize the urban mobility opportunity. And look at the assets that could be brought to bear: Substantial capital and fund-raising power, electric drive train technology and expertise, highly efficient manufacturing capability, sophisticated fleet management systems, and extensive dealer networks that could both sell product and provide mainte- nance services. Will the management change at TSV signal a new direction? We shall see. And it only takes a decisive step by one ma- jor player to bring a stampede of change throughout the industry. Contact Steve at smetzger@smallvehicleresource.com. Or check out our website at www.smallvehicleresource. com, where you will find an extensive database of vehi- cle models and can make side-by-side comparisons of vehicles based on a full set of specifications. NOVEMBER 2018 21