Clendenin’s mini-truck no longer allowed on town streets and destined for auction. Photo credit: Kenny Kemp
A couple of recent stories illustrate the hurdles that STOVs face at the local and state level despite the vehicles being perfect for a given application. In one instance the small town of Clendenin, WV is auctioning off their mini-truck because town officials have determined it is not legal to drive the vehicle on city streets. For several years the town has been using the vehicle to haul debris and carry salt on the narrower and hillier streets where access by full-sized trucks is difficult. While officials and workers thought the mini-truck was “perfect” for the tasks at hand the state of West Virginia does not allow mini-trucks to be registered. The town council passed an ordinance allowing the vehicle to be used within the city but their local ordinance cannot trump state law. The town is now using a F-150 Ford pick-up which costs $75 to fill-up instead of $20 for the mini-truck which is headed for the auction block.
In the second story a disabled man who had been using a Gator to travel around the roads of the small village of Union, IL was abruptly told he could no longer use the vehicle on city streets after years of doing so. He was told it was a matter of public safety. While Illinois state law allows non-highway vehicles on roads with speed limits of 30 mph or less, local municipalities must pass an ordinance to do so. Proponents are using a social media campaign to encourage local officials to pass an ordinance.
Commentary: While the trend has been towards more and more municipalities allowing a wider range of STOVs on local streets, the process is very much piecemeal. As illustrated in the second story there are also instances where use is allowed or tolerated by not officially codified by a local ordinance. The issue is local control of streets, where in theory and more than likely in practice, local officials know what is best for their town. On the other hand, statewide regulations allowing STOVs on local low-speed streets would be a big boost to the STOV market and a much more efficient regulatory approach. The use of these vehicles are not likely a priority for many municipalities, even if officials perceived no safety hazard, so the widespread passage of local ordinances will take a long time to enact.
Dealers expect new introductions like the Yamaha Viking will help continue the strong growth in the UTV market.
PowerSportsBusiness recently featured an article on UTV registrations around the US by state and a related article with data on UTV accessories. Texas had the largest number of registrations by far with nearly 4,500 registered in the first quarter of 2013. California was second with about 1,700. Now these numbers can be misleading because states can have a varying rules on whether or not a UTV has to be registered. In some cases it may depend on whether it is used on private or public land. So it may be hard to compare data state to state without knowing their individual regulations regarding UTV registration. What I found more interesting was the handful of interviews with Texas dealers that is included in the article. Here is my quick analysis of those interviews:
The solid growth in the UTV market is expected to continue
Growth is being driven by a number of factors including: new product introductions, local economic factors like growing oil business and good farming conditions, and continued product switching from ATVs to UTVs
While switching from ATVs is occurring a significant amount of UTV purchasers are newcomers to the market
Polaris is a dominant brand but others are selling well and there are indications that the Kawasaki Teryx is on the upswing
Whether sales are for recreation or work/utility applications depends on the location of the dealer and the dominant customer segments in their area
Farmers are still driving ATV sales but are also switching to UTVs
Accessories can frequently add $1,500 to $3,000 or more to a UTV sale
Roofs, windshields and winches are key accessories being purchased
Newly launched Brutus with cab model from Polaris for the commercial UTV market
Polaris has added a Brutus with cab model to their Brutus commercial UTV product line. The new model takes the base Brutus vehicle and adds some features that are available on the existing Brutus HD and Brutus HDPTO versions. The new model includes a fully enclosed, factory-installed cab with heat, defrost and air conditioning. In addition, there is an electric bed lift. The Brutus with cab, which is also referred to as a Limited Edition Model on the Polaris website, has an MSRP of $20,999 compared to the base Brutus model with an MSRP of $15,199. Learn more: UTVGuide.net
Comment: Polaris is known for frequently adding to their product lines to reach a variety of market sub-segments and price points with specific vehicles or vehicle configurations. Their speed of product introduction and ability to deliver value across a range of price points has to be considered one of their competitive advantages. This Brutus product variation comes only five months after the initial product lineup was announced in March.
Intimidator multi-terrain vehicle from Bad Boy Mowers
Bad Boy Mowers of Arkansas has announced plans to hire more than 200 people in the next three to five years as the company expands it’s offerings in the UTV market. The manufacturer of lawn mowers also started producing utility vehicles several years back but has moved more aggressively into the UTV market with the launch of the affiliated company and brand, Intimidator in 2011. The company spent $7.5 million to expand their plant for the new product line.
The Intimidator series features a 1,600-pound payload and a 2,100-pound towing capacity. The company will be producing 10 new multi-terrain vehicles, as they like to call them, expanding the total number of models they offer to 16. The Intimidator product line includes diesel, gas and electric versions. Previously, under the Bad Boy Mower brand the company has also offered a range of UTVs including some that are LSV compliant UTVs. Learn more: PBCommercial.com
Comment: And the competition in the UTV market continues, this time in the work UTV segment. Creating a new brand is probably the best way to go as UTVs do not initially come to mind with the name Bad Boy Mowers. There could also be some confusions and possibly even legal issues with the Bad Boy Buggies brand owned by E-Z-GO. However, the company should still be able to leverage the Bad Boy Mower dealer network, which at first glance seems concentrated in the Midwest and East, to grow the Intimidator line. Distribution is key in this market as so many manufacturers entered from adjacent markets like powersports, farming, power equipment, golf, etc. They often can reach parts of the market or certain segments with their traditional distribution networks but then have trouble expanding further.
Along with their new RZR XP 1000, Polaris is also introducing new models for their lineup of Ranger utility vehicles for work applications. The new models include the Ranger Crew 900, Ranger 570 EFI and Ranger Crew 570 EFI.
The Ranger Crew 900 features a 60-horsepower ProStar 900 engine, the ability to tow one ton, a new high capacity battery and stator, and an integrated Lock & Ride PRO-FIT cab accessories. It also has a more rigid chassis, and extended wheel base, 1 in. more rear suspension travel and 11 in of ground clearance. The cargo box is wide enough to fit a pallet and has a 1,000 lb capacity. The engine is located under the cargo box providing a quieter ride.
Similar to the Ranger XP 900 cab frame, the new Ranger Crew 900 frame also features profile tubing, providing a 360-degree sealing surface for every cab component. Windshields, roofs, doors and rear panels follow the shape of the vehicle, locking directly into the cab frame’s precision contours. The cabs are 60 percent quieter at idle and 40 percent quieter at 20 mph. The vehicle fits five people and has a new center console, more storage and cup holders and tilt steering wheel. The Ranger Crew 900 is available in Sage Green, Solar Red and Polaris Pursuit Camo. Limited Edition models include Sunset Red and Titanium Matte Metallic. Electronic Power Steering (EPS) is standard on the Polaris Pursuit Camo and Limited Edition models.
The Ranger 570 EFI and Ranger Crew 570 EFI feature a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 570 engine delivering smooth acceleration and 25 percent more power than previous models. The models also features a new transmission, a quieter ride with the engine located behind the seat, a larger stator for operating more accessories and electronic power steering on Limited Edition models. The standard editions for both models are available in Sage Green, Solar Red and Polaris Pursuit Camo.