Club Car, E-Z-GO enter off-road utility market
March 31, 2004
Filed under Features
E-Z-GO and Club Car, both based in Augusta, Ga., each recently revealed products for the growing off-road utility market.
Already available to dealers, the ST 4x4 by E-Z-GO, a division of Textron, is powered by a 614cc Honda V-twin engine producing 18hp. The XRT 1500 by Club Car, a company owned by Ingersoll-Rand, runs off of the same Honda V-twin as the E-Z-GO, but also comes in a three-cylinder diesel powerplant furnished by Kubota. Club Car says the XRT will become available in April.
The ST 4x4 was introduced to E-Z-GO’s 600 to 700 dealers in late December, but formally revealed to the public at various trade shows held in February.
“Response was very, very positive,” E-Z-GO’s Ron Skenes told Powersports Business. “When we first got into what we call the trail vehicle market five or six years ago, one of the first things people would ask about our ST was ‘Is it four-wheel-drive?’
“So, now that we have it, we feel it will open up an entirely new world of potential buyers and open up some new avenues for us.”
Skenes says E-Z-GO has worked on the ST 4x4 for the past two years at the company’s Augusta headquarters, where manufacturing also commenced.
Priced at $8,799 retail, the vehicle is built on a galvanized steel frame and includes “on-the-fly” locking front and rear differentials, four-wheel braking, rack and pinion steering, a MacPherson front suspension, a hinged hood, 25-inch tires, a Rotomolded Polybed, front hitch receiver, gas assisted bed lift, headlights, drink and cell phone holder, a dash board with gauge cluster and a passenger grab bar.
Skenes says he believes the consumer market for the ST 4x4 is larger than the commercial market. “We see some commercial use of this — obviously we sell a lot of vehicles to golf courses — but the biggest audience, we think, is someone who is a large property owner, a farmer or a rancher who will use it in utility mode but also for some outdoor recreation,” he said.
So why not buy a less expensive utility quad?
“The ST 4x4 offers a lot more versatility compared to an ATV,” Skenes countered. “You can bring a companion, take equipment out into the field, or bring the catch of the day back. Obviously it’s not as fast as an ATV — if someone wants to go 35 or 40mph, this is not the vehicle for them. But, if they want something that has a lot of multi-purpose applications and can haul 1,500 lbs., then this is it.”
The XRT 1500, produced by E-Z-GO’s Georgia neighbor, Club Car, is outfitted with two engine options — a 20hp Honda V-twin or a diesel-powered three-cylinder by Kubota. Like the ST 4x4, the XRT has a payload capacity of 1,500 lbs. and can reach 25mph.
The gas model will retail at $8,999, while the diesel is scheduled to sell for $10,300.
Club Car spent the past two years designing the XRT, and the vehicle was first introduced to dealers in January, then shown at various trade shows around the country. Brad Haerle, Club Car sales director for the Eastern U.S., says the unit fits in a market that couldn’t be ignored.
“If you look at the success that John Deere, Kawasaki and Polaris have had with this four-wheel-drive mid-duty utility vehicle category, it’s an obvious market to go into,” Haerle told Powersports Business. “On top of that, there is such a large population of people maturing from ATVs into utility vehicles, especially four-wheel-drives, that it was just an obvious next step for Club Car.”
So what sets the XRT 1500 apart from the competition?
“It’s the first fully automatic four-wheel-drive utility vehicle on the market,” Haerle said. The unit features Club Car’s proprietary and patent-pending “IntelliTrak” drive train system that automatically shifts from two- to four-wheel drive based on driving conditions, eliminating the need to stop and shift gears or lock differentials.
“What that means is that the vehicle will automatically shift from two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive, from low to high, as soon as the rear wheel slips a third of a turn,” Haerle explained. “The nice thing about it is, when you get done with a major event, it will automatically disengage to offer a return of full steering properties.”
Other standard features include retractable seat belts, adjustable bucket seats and a tilt steering wheel. Options include a camouflage enclosure, gear and gun rack, cargo boxes, and even dog boxes.
While the XRT is meant to satiate the growing consumer market for off-road utility vehicles, a commercial version, the Carryall 294, will be marketed to golf course maintenance crews and turf-care companies. It will be equipped to pull top dressers, sprayers and other turf maintenance equipment.
Both the consumer and commercial versions will have two bed-load capacity options: 800-pound standard and 1,100-pound optional, for a total vehicle capacity of 1,200 pounds or 1,500 pounds, respectively.
Founded in Boston in 1923 as the Special Yarns Corporation, Textron, Inc. (NYSE: TXT) is now headquartered in Providence, R.I., and is one of the largest multi-industry companies in the U.S., with revenues of approximately $10 billion. The company has approximately 43,000 employees and owns brands such as E-Z-GO, Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft and Greenlee, among others.
The merger of Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company and Rand Drill company formed the Ingersoll-Rand Company in 1905. Based in Bermuda, Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE: IR) is now a global provider with a portfolio including Club Car vehicles, Bobcat compact equipment, Dresser-Rand turbomachinery; PowerWorks microturbines; Hussmann stationary refrigeration equipment; Ingersoll-Rand industrial and construction equipment; Kryptonite locks; Schlage locks and Thermo King transport temperature-control equipment, among others. The conglomerate has approximately 45,000 employees throughout the world and operates more than 100 manufacturing facilities, half of which are located outside the U.S.