‘a door opener’
By Chris Peters
American SportWorks figures it has hit a key target with the introduction of its Landmaster Crew Hybrid. The company calls it the only true hybrid side-by-side available on the market today.
Brad Roberts, American SportWorks vice president of operations at its Roseland, La., plant and head of the Landmaster Crew Hybrid product line, explained what makes this new product unique.
“We are not like our competitors that are trying to be a hybrid that is nothing more than an electric vehicle with a generator on the unit,” he said. “We have a gas-powered 653cc, V-Twin Subaru on the rear of our units and we have a 48-volt electric drive system on the front end of our units.”
With the separate drive systems, users can cruise in silent electric front-wheel drive, or for more power, use the gas-powered rear-wheel drive. If four-wheel drive is required, both drive systems can be used. Additionally, users can recharge the unit’s batteries while in gas-drive mode for extended electric range. While a user may never need to plug in the unit to recharge the batteries, that is still an option.
“One of the key features is that people who predominantly use a gas vehicle have situations to where they need an electric. The same is true for people who predominantly need an electric vehicle — at times they have need for gas,” Roberts said.
“This takes the decision-making process out of the equation. They don’t have to decide between an all-gas or all-electric model and then not be able to meet their full spectrum of needs. This vehicle is an either/or, or both at the same time. It fits any possible need the end user could have.”
The idea for the Landmaster Crew Hybrid originated through ASW’s clients in the hunting industry.
“We were starting to get involved with several different hunting programs. They were comparing our gas units and the electric units from our competitors and everyone loves the quietness of the electric unit, but the problem they were having with it was that just not enough life cycle on the battery. They were constantly being left out in the woods,” Roberts said.
Roberts used the hunting example to explain the benefits of the hybrid features of the vehicle.
“We can go hunting in the morning on the electric mode, and sneak in very quietly to our hunting area,” he said. “Or, if we’re going to go scouting during the day, you can use the gas engine throughout and when you’re driving the gas engine, it also charges the batteries for you. So when you get ready to go hunting again that afternoon, your batteries are completely charged. You’ll always have a powertrain to run on, your choice. If the terrain is rough enough to require four-wheel drive, you can run both the gas and the electric powertrains at the same time to have a four-wheel drive feature.”
While it was the hunters who had a problem that needed to be solved, ASW’s solution may end up benefiting a much wider audience.
“It’s definitely multi-purpose,” Roberts said. “The idea originated through the hunting industry, but we think there could be a very good opportunity with the governmental contracts and commercial aspects. I think there are multiple-market opportunities.”
Enoch Stiff, president of American SportWorks, agrees.
“We’ve been talking to various institutional users, particularly in places where you going in and out of buildings a lot. You can use it as a maintenance vehicle or a people mover or any number of things that a large organization would have requirements for,” Stiff said.
According to Stiff, the fastest growing segment for American SportWorks, which was formed in 2006, when Brister’s and Manco Powersports joined forces, is the Landmaster product line, which is a dealer-based line.
Roberts said that the Crew Hybrid will be introduced through the company’s dealer channel with a suggested retail price of $12,000.
Stiff sees a multitude of reasons dealers should be stocking the product.
“This is a very dealer-based machine. [The Crew Hybrid] opens up a market that dealers would not otherwise be able to participate in,” Stiff said.
“If they’re not into golf courses, this is a golf course machine. If they’re not into institutional customers, this opens up that whole avenue to them. All of our military is serviced by our local dealers. Since it’s a unique product, and one they can get easily accepted into the military institution, that opens up the opportunity to sell other products to the military institution as well.
“It’s a great door opener.”