Speed Grounds Maintenance
Generic work utility vehicles don't have the flexibility grounds-maintenance crews need to move seamlessly from job to job. Instead, they cause crews to waste time driving to staging areas for the equipment and supplies they need. What's more these vehicles are built on steel frames that rust when exposed to water, fertilizers and chemicals. But here's the good news: Some manufacturers now offer work utility vehicles specially configured for grounds maintenance applications.
Q: What attachments should grounds managers look for on these vehicles?
A: For ideal flexibility, these vehicles should have extended beds and aluminum cargo boxes with top-mounted stake-side kits, a greens hose reel with electric rewind, heavy-duty receiver and tailgate tethers. A canopy and windshield will improve comfort and safety. A bed-based attachment system that carries tools and equipment outside the bed and frees bed space can help with versatility and reduce round trips. And an optional automatic limited slip differential will give you 4x4-like performance when needed.
Q: On what platform should the vehicle be built?
A: Avoid golf car or recreational vehicle platforms in favor of stronger and more powerful work utility vehicle platforms that can do the work of small trucks. Make sure the vehicle is designed and manufactured specifically for work sites, with rustproof aluminum frames that will withstand water, fertilizers and chemicals. Look for vehicles with a safe maximum speed of 25 mph or less, and make sure the suspension system is designed for load-carrying, not speed.
Q: Which is better, gasoline or electric models?
A: Either works for this application. If you select gasoline, look for vehicles with powerful overhead cam engines with electronic fuel injection and compare mileage among different models. Some vehicles are twice as fuel efficient as others.
If you go with electric, make sure the vehicle has a 48-volt battery pack and a 500-amp DC controller. These powerful controllers generate much more carrying capacity than 350- or even 400-amp controllers. Also look for electric vehicles that come standard with extended-range batteries and single-point watering systems that simplify battery maintenance. Make sure the batteries have smart on-board chargers that issue alerts to prevent common user errors and reel retractors that allow you to charge at any 110-volt outlet.
Q: Is there anything users should avoid when purchasing these vehicles?
A: Yes. Don't buy vehicles that were originally designed for recreational use. They generally have steel frames that rust and maximum speeds of up to 50 mph, an unnecessary risk on work sites. Further, their suspension systems are built for hustle, not pulling loads. These vehicles are fun on weekends, but they can't stand up to grounds-maintenance applications. Finally, don't use expensive pickup trucks for this application. Well-built work utility vehicles configured specifically for grounds maintenance can do the job at a fraction of the cost.
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