Call them what you will, but UTVs, side x sides or ROVs have found a place in much of rural New Zealand.
The Chinese company markets a range of very competent machines, particularly for buyers who might be on a tight budget.
With its main factory in Changshou, the business has run for 25 years and is now reckoned the sixth-largest supplier of UTVs in the US.
Dairy News recently tried a couple of UTVs from Hisun NZ on a Waikato dairy farm: a Sector 500 and a Sector E1.
Both machines are built around the same chassis. The 500 uses Hisun’s own 470cc single cylinder, fuel injected engine, while the E1 is powered by an electric induction motor (48V AC) said to deliver 38hp.
On first impression, both models look well put together, with no signs typical of Chinese-made machinery of the past, eg poor quality welding and low quality, rusty fasteners.
Well fitting body panels and a clever rear tray give the machines a modern look, combining with oversize tyre equipment under extended wheel arches.
The E1 has four dry cell batteries located under the bench seat in the middle of the machine. Combined these deliver the 48V output and a top speed of about 26km/h. While this seems a little slow on the road, it was more than enough out on the farm, ideal for following cows walking the central race and supremely quiet moving through mobs of skittish calves.
Said to have a range of 70km, the machine proved capable of a day’s work on its low-medium-high selection before needing recharging. We suspect pulling heavy loads in the lower settings will reduce this 70km range, but we never encountered the problem.
Charging is easy with a self contained unit: just plug into the mains and recharge in about seven hours or overnight.
The E1’s plus points are its silent operation (spoiled only by an annoying reversing beeper) and its exceptionally low running costs.
On the minus side, a foot operated parking brake located under the left side of the dashboard demands the rider has a double jointed knee, and a rider with an expanded waistline will find it a tight fit behind the steering wheel.
Another minus, those oversized tyres packed into narrow wheel arches lead to plenty of mud flying around despite the wheel arch extensions.
The same negatives apply to the petrol powered 500, though it doesn’t have the dreaded reversing beeper.
The engine started easily, settled to steady tickover and showed plenty of power off the mark and up to cruising speed. Towing an 80-teat calfeteria loaded with 500L of milk proved no problem and it easily travelled through muddy gateways with the 4WD on-demand system selected.
Both machines can tow about 500kg, come standard with a 1587kg front mounted winch and have a combination of halogen and LED lights.
Ground clearance of 30cm coped well with muddy areas, although we suspect that in extreme conditions the heavier electric unit would come to grief first.
Ride was comfortable, particularly so at higher speeds and over rough areas, helped by nitrogen-over-oil dampers at each corner and complemented by disc brakes all round to give a prompt, controlled stop.
In summary, Hisun appears to have shrugged the image of poorly made Chinese machines and offers an alternative to the mainstream brands, especially with prices starting at $12,500 (petrol) and $16,500 (electric).