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Understanding Utility Vehicle Options
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Utility Vehicles: Equipment ReplacementPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Utility Vehicles: Post-Purchase Issues
Once managers have investigated their options in general and gained a better understanding of department needs, the next step is to explore the features, functions and technology available that are available on new-generation utility vehicles.
It is crucial to evaluate whether it is wise to purchase a model that is similar in capabilities and cost to the previous unit. The same model might not be available, depending on the age of the vehicle being replaced.
Managers also need to understand the impact that product evolution can have. Utility vehicles have become more sophisticated, and one result is that new features and functions tend to drive up the price. New technology also can mean additional training requirements for equipment operators and mechanics.
While new vehicles might cost more, managers need to understand that the department can realize savings from fewer repairs and greater efficiency. In addition, many new-generation utility vehicles are more versatile and flexible than their predecessors, so workers can use them for multiple functions and in multiple locations.
Some utility vehicles now can even accommodate attachments from other manufacturers, and this versatility can alleviate the concerns of replacing existing attachments purchased for an older vehicle. Vehicle versatility also might enable crews to use one new vehicle to perform the operations of more than one existing vehicle. Such versatility can eliminate the substantial costs associated with vehicle maintenance, repair and replacement.
Many new vehicles can use alternative fuel sources, which can reduce operating costs. Electric models can reduce operating and maintenance costs by nearly one-half, and some managers prefer them over gasoline or diesel engines in places where noise and pollution are concerns. Vehicles that use alternative fuels also can alleviate some of managers’ safety concerns, since their maximum speeds are typically 25 mph.
While new vehicles might intimidate users who are used to existing vehicles because of years of use, managers specifying a new vehicle should keep the habits and preferences of these workers in mind because cutting-edge capabilities will be wasted if equipment operators do not take advantage of them. Some users might even create manual, cumbersome workarounds that do not involve a new vehicle in order to perform some tasks comfortably, which can hamper the department’s productivity.
New vehicles also might come with a warranty, and if the existing vehicle had needed repairs over the years, a warranty on a new vehicle can prevent problems related to money, time, and project delays. An extended warranty that covers parts and workmanship can substantially reduce the cost of maintenance and repairs.