Generator-equipped UTV a bold step by KYMCO
Using the Side-by-Sides for work is becoming an increasingly good idea as it not only provides seating for up to six people, but some companies are now innovating tools inside the tool. KYMCO has come to market for the 2015 model year with a version of its UXV 500 line that will not only give you the moving power to haul the tools to the job, but a power packed 110V/120V generator onsite as well. We had a chance to see this machine recently during a trip to the hills of Union, SC.
Starting with the base UXV 500i we find the overhead cam four-valve engine with fuel injection powering the chassis. This 499cc engine is liquid cooled for optimal performance on the most active days. When you think in terms of transmission, the UXV 500i puts power to the ground through a CVT-style belt driven transmission. This is delegated by the available selections of High, Low, Neutral, Reverse and Park gears. When you get to an area of the trail that requires cooperation from all four wheels, four-wheel drive is available at the flip of a dash-mounted switch. If the going gets really tough you can engage the included differential lock that will tie all four wheels together and pull ahead. Downhill engine braking in 4WD is standard to assist in descents.
Making the ride bearable through rough trails is the independent front and rear suspension. This UXV 500i gets dual independent A-arms both front and rear with a travel of up to 7.5 inches. The center of this machine gives its driver up to 12.2 inches of ground clearance to walk over small downed trees and brush as well as traverse off-camber embankments. Harsh bumps are softened by gas charged shocks on all four corners. As for braking or stopping power, KYMCO installed hydraulic disc brakes on the two front corners with a shaft mounted hydraulic disc on the rear. Getting completely stopped should not be an issue.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 KYMCO UXV 450i LE 4X4
Twin bucket-style seats equipped with headrests are designed to keep riders comfortable. Low entry floorboards offer most riders easy access to the cab. Once you are seated, the general location of important items such as gear selector, 2WD/4WD switch and parking brake are all within easy reach. Three-point belts keep you secure inside the machine and an additional door covering net system fastens in place just in case the ride gets out of hand.
If working is the goal for this machine, and we think it is, then towing may actually be a part of that workload. This UXV 500i is capable of pulling along 1,200 lbs through the receiver hitch and holding a limit of 440 in the dumping cargo bed. This should be sufficient for anything you could use this machine for and with an 8.45-gallon gas tank you should be able to roll out for a long day on the job.
The most intriguing part of the KYMCO UXV 500i G is the onboard generator that has been uniquely stuffed into the package. KYMCO also mounted a large control panel right in the middle of the dash for switching power modes as well as monitoring the load as the machine runs. This 5 kw crankshaft-driven generator gives its owner the power for many different tasks. The ability to switch the generator from 110 volts to 220 volts is also a notable addition. Securing a separate gearbox into the engine bay of this machine means that the generator is not always engaged, so there is no worry of the machine wearing out items prematurely.
Getting the generator started is as simple as starting the UXV 500i G, making sure the vehicle is in park with parking brake engaged, inserting the generator-specific key and turning the system on. A status light will become green if system requirements are met. Pressing the big “G” button in the panel gets everything going. The UXV must be at a proper operating temperature and then the machine will cut off, restart under its own accord and the generator is engaged to now be used. This might seem like a lot of steps – quite frankly, it is – but the process ensures a safe use of the generator and maintains safety for the machine. We had the opportunity to cut planks of wood using a skill saw or trim trees with an electric chainsaw. KYMCO reps also had a unit set up beside the lunch tent running fans for most of the day, so it does work well.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Honda Pioneer 500
Our drive time in the Generator model UXV 500i was limited, but it seems to drive and function just as a normal UXV Side-by-side. At a mild pace through the trails, the UXV 500i is a good ride. This machine is made for the trail rider and someone who wants to enjoy what can be seen on the trail. With that said, it is not a speed monster that can be driven hard and thrown around like higher priced vehicles. The addition of the generator obviously makes this unit heavier, but if you have experience in the KYMCO UTV line you will notice little difference.
KYMCO informed us that none of the units at our ride were exactly what you’ll see at dealerships, so we’d expect them to be a little more refined for consumers.
When you just think about the possibilities of this piece of equipment, we can see where our industry would benefit. However, coming from a company which has long touted the “entry” level price point, it seems KYMCO has started to jump up over that just a little.
The engineering factor on this machine is incredible if you stop and take a close look. We are sure things will get easier as well as smaller over time. Could the entire generator be trumped by a stand-alone unit in the bed (the UXV 500i G retails for $12,999, a $2,500 premium over the base UXV 500i)? Possibly, but that’s not what we are looking at.
What is catching our eye is that a company is trying to grow by leaps and bounds by thinking out of the box a little bit more. You can nitpick on the design or even the finished product if you really want, but we think companies like KYMCO that are striving to further the industry is the most important thing to take away from the UXV 500i G.