All manner of hybrid vehicles and electric cars are coming to market these days, and Mike Prosser believes some of them are a perfect complement to the recreational vehicles he rents and sells on Milwaukee’s south side.
That prompted him to add something called a Coco to his product lineup at Prosser RV Rentals & Sales in Milwaukee. The Coco is a two-seat, low-speed vehicle manufactured by Kandi Technologies Corp. of Jinhua, China.
Powered by six lead-acid batteries, it’s an insurance policy against a sudden spike in crude oil prices, Prosser said.
“A natural hedge against that in my mind would be the ability to sell something that is super-efficient and environmentally friendly, and that’s these electric cars,” he noted.
Prosser signed on with the Chinese firm after talking with company officials at a trade show in Indianapolis in February.
“It gets a lot of heads turning,” he said. “People pull over and stop and say, ‘What the heck is that?”’
The Kandi Coco will appeal to a certain segment of the population, he said, including RV owners who tow a smaller vehicle behind their rigs for use once they arrive at their destinations.
The Coco weighs about 1,600 pounds. “It’ll save them fuel from a towing point of view,” Prosser said.
Prosser also wanted to be on the ground floor of a technology that is generating a fair amount of buzz. So far, the alternative fuel vehicle market is the transportation sector’s version of the Wild West.
“There’s an enormous range of products that are coming to market or being talked about coming to market,” said Brett Smith, senior industry analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Realistically, there are niche, limited markets for a lot of these variations.”
That’s exactly where Prosser wants to be.
“I like to be able to offer something of value that you don’t find from anybody else,” he said.
His company already sells scooters.
The Coco, he said, is “going to be for somebody who wants that kind of thing, willing to put up with a little quirkiness of the car.”
The Coco claims a range of up to 60 miles on a single charge. It tops out at 25 mph but can be programmed to hit a top speed of 35 mph, Prosser said. Suggested retail is $12,995 for the convertible and $13,995 for the hard top.
Prosser said he realizes the small vehicles might not take off, but believes there’s a good chance they will.
“Everything is a risk,” he said.
Adding that the product line is a strategic move, he said, “Where can I be 10 years from now vs. if I just stayed with the mainstream and did everything conventionally?”