New model golf car is rolled out

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It was an unveiling worthy of an international auto show, as the press gathered to watch a video presentation with a driving musical beat and an announcer with a movie-trailer voice.

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A dummy sits in an E-Z-Go RXV golf car as it bounces up and down while undergoing a stress test on its structure in an automotive testing area at E-Z-Go in Augusta. The motion simulates a rough golf course and is done for 14 days in a row.  Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Kendrick Brinson/Staff
A dummy sits in an E-Z-Go RXV golf car as it bounces up and down while undergoing a stress test on its structure in an automotive testing area at E-Z-Go in Augusta. The motion simulates a rough golf course and is done for 14 days in a row.

After all, it is the first new model of golf car to come from E-Z-Go in 12 years.

The RXV has been under development for five years and will be showing up on golf courses in the spring.

"Today, the game changes," E-Z-Go President John Garrison said Wednesday. "E-Z-Go has completely re-imagined the golf cart from the ground up, adding breakthrough innovations."

Some of those innovations include an automatic braking system that engages when the vehicle stops, energy-transfer bumpers on all four sides and powertrains with better gas or electrical efficiency.

"It has the voice of the customer all over it," said Susan Rutt, vice president of engineering.

Customer input was incorporated into the design. The cover flings rain away from the vehicle. The ball-, cup- and tee-holders are more ergonomic.

From the way it slows down after a driver takes the foot off the pedal to the gear shift, "it will have the feel of an auto," explained Chuck Greif, who heads up the RXV program.

Mr. Garrison said the new golf car was designed to help golf courses save money on maintenance and energy. The cart uses an alternating current in its electric drivetrain, which means a 30 percent boost in efficiency over direct-current electric motors.

The gasoline version features a single-cylinder, 13-horsepower engine, delivering 50 percent more miles to the gallon than its predecessor.

The brakes were designed to recharge the battery whenever used, Mr. Garrison said.

"It makes a round of golf more comfortable, enjoyable and safe," Mr. Garrison said of the RXV.

In the effort to improve vehicle reliability, Ms. Rutt said, the company gleaned the best practices from the auto industry.

The vehicle will go into full production at E-Z-Go's Augusta facility at the beginning of 2008. A handful of the models have been built so that the company sales force can demonstrate it to golf course operators.

The TXT model, introduced in 1995, will stay in production, Mr. Garrison said.

"The TXT is still a proven, reliable product, so we'll continue to sell it," Mr. Garrison said. "This (RXV) vehicle is a premium product, so it will command a premium price in the marketplace."

The RXV will be priced 15 percent higher than the TXT.

Augusta plant employment will remain at 900. The efficiency of the new manufacturing lines allows the new model to be added without changing employee levels.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

RXV SPECS

SPEED: 8 to 14.5 mph

ELECTRIC: 3 horsepower, 48-volt AC motor

GAS: 13 horsepower, single-cylinder, overhead valve engine

WEIGHT: 747 to 919 pounds

DIMENSIONS: 94.5 inches long, 68.5 inches high with canopy, 65.7-inch wheelbase


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