Electric Vehicles Research invests heavily to seek out new insights into the EV industry. In recent weeks that has taken us to Switzerland, Germany and Slovenia. In Switzerland we reported on Swissauto, the latest acquisition of Polaris Industries the $2 billion leader in off road vehicles. Under its new Chief Executive from the acquisitive Danaher Corp. it has picked up technically similar vehicles under strong brands, recently including Global Electric Motorcars, the Chrysler neighbourhood electric vehicle company and Goupil, a light industrial on-road EV manufacturer in France. Polaris already has successful mini pure electric trucks under the Ranger brand (one shown charging in the above image) as well as Breeze branded small off road EVs and a military ATV. Then there is the superb single cylinder range extender for open sale that comes in below the power of the multi-cylinder Lotus Engineering piston ICE range extenders that go to 40kW or so and are now designed into some vehicles. The virtually silent Polaris range extender has impressed us when demonstrated in a Volkswagen van.
Polaris Ranger leisure EV
At their invitation, we have therefore visited the impressive new Wyoming Minnesota manufacturing site of Polaris Industries. This clarified how Polaris creates its own product ranges as well as acquiring them and then puts superlative engineering in place, understandably fixing problems before modernising componentry that works well for now. Thus the EVs - all pure EVs so far - currently have lead acid batteries throughout and a variety of motor technologies including brushed and brushless, asynchronous and synchronous motors. Their conventional motorcycles under the Victory and Indian brands are a great success with Victory achieving the top customer satisfaction in the USA last year according to the respected motor industry analysts J D Power. Testing is exceptionally intensive and yet pricing of their products is mainstream competitive. Acquisition of an electric motorcycle company and an airport Ground Support Equipment manufacturer should be considered in our view. There is quite a choice and, although sales are minimal in the West, electric motorcycle in East Asia are picking up and electrification of airports worldwide is proceeding apace. There are many other acquisition opportunities for Polaris Industries we can identify. Exceptionally small, light range extenders have a place in many of such vehicles.
In our opinion, in the years to come, the widening Polaris EV range has huge opportunities to fit the next generation of components such as energy harvesting shock absorbers (off-road is ideal for these), flywheels and regenerative braking plus flexible photovoltaics when it is ready for primetime. Doubtless, the engineering will be standardised and modularised across brands. Lithium -ion batteries must surely be offered as an option for those that can pay to avoid hassle and get better performance and range extenders, with a tiny fuel tank, could become a drop-in option in the four wheel vehicles for those wanting the occasional very heavy duty cycle or longest range. Bottom line is that Polaris Industries can quintuple to a $10 billion corporation mainly in EV niche markets but it must get ahead of the curve with the rapidly changing EV technology.
For more attend Electric Vehicles Land Sea Air USA 2012,where Toyota (talking about fleets), Daimler AG (commercial and military vehicles and cars) and other majors will present. Uniquely, a large number of electric vehicle manufacturers not seen in conventional EV events will also present, including WheelTug airliner electrification on the ground, Pipistrel manned electric aircraft (winner of the latest Lindberg prize in the USA and European accolades too) and SolTrac electric farm tractors. Many manufacturers of industrial, commercial, military, e-bike, cars and other EVs will be there. At last you can meet those responsible for the majority of the hybrid and pure electric vehicle market and they all need components!! Most are prosperous growing businesses not reliant on government support that can be withdrawn at any time. So far two range extender developers are presenting - Clarian Labs and Bladon Jets - and one electric motorcycle manufactuere Motovolta.