The company created a new model to meet U.S. Department of Transportation and university requirements.
SARASOTA, Fla. (October 1, 2019) Capitalizing on their unique strength of custom-designing street-legal vehicles, Sarasota-based Cruise Car has won a contract to provide a fleet of 23 eight-passenger vehicles to the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley campuses in Edinburg and Brownsville, Texas.
But Cruise Car did it in a way that met what appeared to be competing priorities at the university and, in the process, may change this slice of the market by making a model where all eight-passenger seats are front-facing.
UT needed eight-passenger vehicles to shuttle students around each campus. Eight passengers is the maximum allowed in this class of low-speed vehicle — which is U.S. Department of Transportation-certified to travel on roads with speed limits of less than 35 mph — because of a weight ceiling of 3,000 pounds. The standard market configuration is six forward-facing seats and two rear-facing seats. But UT also wanted to maximize student safety, and people in the two rear-facing seats are vulnerable in rear-end collisions.
This was a challenge for those bidding on the contract but was a strength for Cruise Car due to the company’s modular vehicle design providing tremendous building flexibility.
“Designing a new type of vehicle model to meet a customer’s specific application requires critical thinking and real creativity,” said Nathan Kalin, President of Cruise Car. “But part of our company’s core competency is to use our modular basis to provide unique, customer-centric vehicles.”
Cruise Car created a model with all eight seats facing forward, meeting UT’s dual priorities of maximum passenger count and maximum safety. The back occupants in this design are protected by the body of the vehicle, not just a step plate.
This arrangement won Cruise Car the contract, but also delivered a solution to that market problem of safety for the back two passengers. Cruise Car knows there is a strong and growing demand for such vehicles and because this was a success with UT, the company is now going to add this configuration of maximizing passengers and passenger safety to it’s line of standard models.
“There is clearly a need in the market for this style of vehicle and we’re in the perfect position to supply that need,” Kalin said.