Eicher Polaris Changes Multix Marketing Strategy

Eicher Polaris Multix

The Multix utility vehicle, the first offering from the Eicher-Polaris joint venture.

Eicher Polaris has made a significant change in the marketing strategy for their Multix multi-purpose utility vehicle. Launched in 2015, the Multix was designed to be versatile and transformable from moving goods to carrying the family to generating electricity with the X-Port feature.

Based on extensive market research the original marketing plan targeted entrepreneurs in rural areas and small towns. The entrepreneur could use the vehicle for business during the week, for family outings on the weekend and even provide electricity in areas where the electrical grid can be unreliable. However, the product has not taken off as management expected, although the potential market is deemed quite large. The company points to more conservative rural people not being as quick to adopt such an innovative product.

Therefore, Eicher Polaris is changing course and now focusing on more urban areas. To that end the company is expanding from 77 to 100 dealerships with most of the new openings in metro areas. The hope is that metro locations will provide more exposure for the Multix to a wider range of end users in the urban environment. Management provides examples of end users that can conduct “business on wheels” with the Multix like laundry operators who can use the X-Port for ironing and carpenters to power tools.

Learn more: thehindubusinessline.com

Comment: The versatility of the vehicle may make it a success in the end. In the metro areas, rather than fitting the vehicle to a particular type of user, many different type of users can adapt the Multix to their needs. In the end the Multix may be used for a number of different end use applications that the company never even considered when developing the vehicle. The key will be exposing the vehicle to as many different end users as possible, and helping them adapt the vehicle to their needs. The next step may be to develop a broader range of accessories to cater to specific applciations.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Bad Boy Off Road Rebranded Textron Off Road

Vehicles like the gas powered Stampede 900 will now be sold under the Textron Off Road brand instead of Bad Boy Off Road.

Textron Specialized Vehicles recently announced the rebranding of their Bad Boy Off Road brand of vehicles to Textron Off Road. The rebranding is designed to take advantage of Textron’s association with strong engineering and manufacturing through their long established brands in aerospace, defense and automotive such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna, Beechcraft, Lycoming and Cushman.

The Textron Off Road brand of side-by-sides currently features the gas powered Stampede and Stampede XTR, the all-electric Recoil, Recoil iS and Recoil iS Crew and the hybrid Ambush iS.

“We are changing our brand from Bad Boy Off Road to Textron Off Road to better reflect the detailed design, precision engineering, manufacturing expertise and high performance for which Textron is known, across a number of major industries,” said John Collins, vice president, consumer for Textron Specialized Vehicles. “Our new name is more indicative of the level of performance, quality and innovation that we build into our side-by-sides, and demonstrates how serious Textron is about its future in the powersports market.”

The rebranding makes sense for Textron for a number of reasons. The Bad Boy name is fairly well known in the hunting segment of the utility vehicle market, but this is more of a niche market, and before being acquired in 2010 by Textron there were some quality issues associated with the brand. In 2016 Textron rebranded Bad Boy Buggies to Bad Boy Off Road so there has not been a lot of time to build brand value, and thus not as much to lose in rebranding at this time. While the Textron brand may not be as well known in the utility vehicle market, the company’s collection of more well known manufacturing brands generates higher brand awareness in general. In addition, utility vehicles from Cushman and E-Z-GO fall under the Textron umbrella and certainly are known in commercial UTV segments and, by association, Textron has some awareness there as well.

A bigger question than whether rebranding is good for business, is how the Textron Off Road product lines integrate with recently acquired Arctic Cat products. While their distribution networks are more likely complimentary than duplicative, the question is how their individual vehicles fit together. Textron Off Road’s electric UTVs are a nice compliment to Arctic Cat’s gas powered vehicles, but how does their Stampede line of UTVs fit with Arctic Cat’s Prowler, HDX and Wild Cat vehicles.

If you look at a comparison between the Stampede 900 EPS, Arctic Cat HDX 700 XT EPS and the Arctic Cat Prowler 1000 XT EPS, they have similar price points and features and specifications. One could imagine the Stampede line could be turned into more of a value-oriented brand with lower price points. Value UTVs have become a competitive segment of the market as better quality imported brands and lower priced offerings from established brands target value consumers. However, Stampede’s initial marketing campaigns have been aiming higher than value-oriented customers. Another option might be to target specific market sub-segments, perhaps, in conjunction with geographic targeting based on the Stampede’s distribution network. The greater the differentiation between the various Textron brands, the better chance Textron has of convincing dealers to carry several Textron UTV brands, and of leveraging the distribution channels of their different brands.

Vehicles under the Textron Off Road brand will be available in April, 2017.  Learn more:  Textron.com

Club Car Fit-to-Task UTVs Target Commercial Segments

The Club Car Carryall 500 Facilities-Engineering Vehicle

The Carryall 500 Facilities-Engineering Vehicle is one of the pre-configured Fit-to-Task vehicles being offered by Club Car.

Club Car Carryall 700 Food Service Vehicle

Club Car Carryall 700 Food Service Vehicle

Club Car Transporter Ambulance

Club Car Transporter Ambulance

Club Car recently launched their new Fit-to-Task series of vehicles for the commercial/work segment of the utility vehicle market. The series of vehicles offers customers application specific vehicles already equipped with accessories and options designed for a particular application.

The company displayed four of the vehicles in March at the NMFT Conference and Expo in Baltimore, MD including the:

  • Carryall 500 Facilities-Engineering Vehicle with dual locking tool boxes, a dual ladder rack with tie-downs and a 2″ receiver.
  • Carryall 700 Food Service Vehicle with a van box, 68-tray rack system, a 10-shelf rack system, glass racks and drip edges.
  • Carryall 700 Housekeeping Vehicle with an L-shaped van box with interior LED lights and locking doors, drawers, shelves for towels, linens, etc and room for a full-sized vacuum cleaner, mops, brooms and other supplies.
  • Transporter Ambulance with hand-carry stretcher and mounts, fold-down rail for patient area, storage boxes and seating for three.

Club Car will be rolling out additional Fit-to-Task vehicles including:

  • Facilities-Engineering Vehicles with Van Boxes
  • Security Vehicles
  • Bell Service Vehicles
  • Grounds Maintenance Vehicles (Including a big & tall model)
  • Refuse Removal Vehicles (Including a high-dump model)
  • Snow Removal Vehicles
  • Other Ambulance, Room Service and Housekeeping Vehicles
  • People Movers
  • Long-bed 4x4s and more

These vehicles continue Club Car’s focus on the commercial and work market segments. Over the last few years as the market for fleet golf cars has declined and stagnated, E-Z-GO and Club Car have had to look for new avenues of growth. Textron (E-Z-GO) has chosen to expand their portfolio of small vehicles to reach new markets as evidenced by their recent acquisition of Arctic Cat. Club Car has chosen to further penetrate commercial and work segments in which they already had a strong presence.

Over the past several years Club Car launched new base vehicles like the Carryall 500 and 700, a UTV support team program for rental customers, their Corporate Solution Program for fleet management and maintenance, and utility vehicle accessory packages. In their marketing material they are touting their diverse commercial vehicle offerings and expertise in fleet management of small, electric vehicles. As evidenced by some of the Fit-to-Task vehicles and their website, Club Car is focusing on specific market verticals such as education, government, rentals and resorts.

Demonstrating the global nature of the small, task-oriented vehicle market in terms of both product and marketing approaches, Tata Motors earlier this year announced a series of application specific variants of their ACE mini-truck.

Learn more:  Prweb.com

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Eicher-Polaris Adjusting Multix Strategy

Eicher Polaris Multix

The Multix utility vehicle, the first offering from the Eicher-Polaris joint venture.

Eicher-Polaris, the Indian joint venture between Eicher Motors and Polaris, is adjusting their Multix marketing strategy to boost a lackluster rollout, according to reports from the Economic Times of India. The less than expected performance has been mentioned in recent quarterly earnings calls with analysts. Eicher-Polaris has already boosted the Multix’s power with a more powerful and BS IV compliant engine. The company plans on doubling their dealer network to 150 locations over the next six months and looks to more aggressively market this new concept vehicle. Additional resources are being allocated to marketing strategy consultants and customer research to inform future marketing initiatives.

The joint venture’s management has moved back their breakeven time frame by up to two years and may start producing ATVs at the Multix plant to help in that regard. The plant, located in Jaipur, has a capacity to produce 60,000 vehicles annually, so ATVs could fill some of that capacity until the Multix can develop some momentum.

This isn’t the first time Polaris has had difficulties in markets outside of the powersports arena. They have had some challenges along the way with their Bobcat partnership, Brutus line sold to commercial and government markets, as well as, some issues with traditional Polaris dealers trying to sell GEMs after the brand was first acquired.

While one might expect the past success of Polaris might produce different results, these difficulties are not completely unexpected. Selling to commercial and government customers is different than selling a new off-road vehicle to a powersport customer. With the latter, Polaris’ established presence in the market facilitates a build it and they will come approach, and the company has had years to hone their PR and marketing campaigns for a market often eager for the next best thing. Literally, dealers can wait for customers to walk through their doors,

In the commercial/government market customers are often constrained by budgets and budgetary calendars, and a dealer has to be pro-active. The successful dealers I have met in this market all aggressively make on site visits and demo vehicles for potential customers, as well as, attend trade shows, exhibitions and other venues where potential customers congregate. This is essentially a different type of dealer than the powersports dealer. This is not to say that Eicher-Polaris and Polaris won’t be successful in these markets. Despite these hurdles, Polaris has continued to grow their commercial business and their recent acquisition of Taylor-Dunn shows they are committed to a long-term strategy. In fact, overcoming these hurdles is building an institutional knowledge of these markets that should improve help them moving forward.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Kawasaki Adds Government/Fleet Section To Website

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

The new 2017 Kawasaki Mule SX 4x4 XC.

Vehicles like the Kawasaki Mule SX 4×4 XC are being marketed to government and fleet buyers.

Kawasaki recently added a section on their website specifically for government and fleet sales. The fleet sales section includes links to information on their work and recreational side-by-sides as well as ATVs. The government section includes motorcycles and personal watercraft in addition to side-by-sides and ATVs. There is also contact information for Michael Jacobs, Kawasaki’s government and fleet sales manager.

This is another indication of side-by-side manufacturers trying to target to additional markets and in particular commercial and work related markets. In many cases, manufacturers with a strong presence in the recreational and crossover market segments are moving more aggressively into the utility segments in search of sales growth. They are accomplishing this by several methods including developing new models or whole product lines for the market, partnering with other equipment manufacturers to access different distribution networks and/or developing new and targeted marketing programs and sales teams.   Learn more:  Kawasaki.com

BRP Unveils Race-Inspired Can-Am Maverick X3 at Phoenix International Raceway

Can-Am Maverick X3 Daytona

The new Can-Am Maverick X3 with Daytona Package.

From BRP Press Release

BRP unveiled a race-inspired Can-Am Maverick X3 Daytona Package during the Can-Am 500, the NASCAR Sprint Cup race being held at Phoenix International Raceway this week-end. Inspired by race fans, the vehicle combines leading Maverick X3 performance and design characteristics along with a distinctly stock-car appearance.

“It’s a privilege to welcome BRP, a world leader in the powersports industry, to Phoenix International Raceway with its strong Can-Am brand,” said Joie Chitwood III, Chief Operating Officer of International Speedway Corporation. “Can-Am has made a solid commitment towards motorsports and the unveiling of the Can-Am Maverick X3 Daytona Package is another evidence of this commitment.”

The defiantly-designed, precise and powerful Can-Am Maverick X3 side-by-side vehicle is built to conquer even the most demanding terrain. With its 154-hp turbocharged inline 3-cylinder Rotax engine and the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds, the vehicle is all about performance, which is something all race fans appreciate.

“With the Can-Am Maverick X3 vehicle, we set a goal to deliver a clear leader in the sport segment, and our teams worked together and produced a bold vehicle with incredible looks, agility and performance,” said José Boisjoli, BRP’s president and CEO. “We believe race fans will enjoy this dedicated Daytona-inspired look.”

Sponsorship renewed for the 2017 and 2018 seasons

BRP’s Can-Am brand will be present on the NASCAR circuit for the next two years through its collaboration with the GoFAS No.32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, in association with the Kappa and Cyclops Gear brands. The agreement provides Can-Am with the opportunity to sponsor 36 races, 13 as primary sponsor.

The agreement includes two race title sponsorships– the Can-Am Duel at Daytona and the Can-Am 500 in Phoenix for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Learn more:  BRP.com

Maverick X3 Development Process

Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs side-by-side

The Maverick X3 X rs package is designed for riding the dunes or occasionally above them.

An article in PowerSports Business provides some details of the product development process for Can-Am’s recently launched Maverick X3 side-by-side. The process started from scratch and early on the company researched trophy truck, sandrails and dune buggie markets for design input. Side-by-side users have been migrating from these markets. Based on this research, Can-Am engineered a large trailing arm and up to 24″ of rear suspension to the Maverick X3 lineup. The wider 72″ X3 model will also appeal to the dune riding crowd. Another critical design element is the low center of gravity for the passengers.

The overall design revolved around the words defiant, precise and powerful. Since the X3 was positioned as the top of the product line vehicle, Can-Am wanted it to be a statement vehicle with an aggressive and bold look. Precise refers to the suspension and handling characteristics and powerful refers to the turbocharged engine.

According to Can-Am dealer response to the Maverick X3 has been enthusiastic. The MSRPs for the line were less than they expected given the vehicle features they had heard about, and they liked that they can prep the vehicles and put them in their customer’s hands within an hour. The key demographic for the X3 is men in their mid-40s looking for an exhilarating adrenaline rush and most will be migrating from ATVs or replacing another side-by-side. Learn more:  Powersportsbusiness.com

Hisun Motors Introduces Electric UTV With 45 Mile Range

The new Sector E1 electric UTV from Hisun Motors.

The new Sector E1 electric UTV from Hisun Motors.

HISUN Motors takes a big step forward with the announcement of the all-new Sector E1 electric Utility Vehicle, adding yet another quality vehicle to their line-up. Building on the success of the Sector UTV line’s performance and modern advancements in electric technology, HISUN is excited to enter the growing electric UTV market. The Sector E1 4×4 is a mid-size UTV which provides quiet performance thanks to its powerful 48 volt 36hp AC drivetrain. The Sector E1 starts at an MSRP as low as $10,199.

HISUN’s Sector E1 features 4-wheel independent nitrogen suspension, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, and an industry best run time. The Sector E1 is the first electric UTV on the market with the Discover EV Traction Dry Cell Battery technology that is maintenance free and designed for longer run times and a longer life. The Discover EV Traction Dry Cell Battery is also recyclable, built from recycled parts, and will deliver an estimated 45 miles on a single charge. HISUN has leveraged superior North American technology for integral components such as the Kinetek Motor, Delta Q IC1200 Chargers, and 450 Amp Sevcon Gen IV controllers. Dealer and customer feedback has helped refine the end product of the vehicle resulting in the Ultimate Electric Utility Vehicle.

The introduction of the Sector E1 will strongly position HISUN into a segment of the UTV market which has grown year over year in comparison to the gas UTV market. “We felt like with the improvements in battery technology coupled with the North American sourced supply chain of critical drivetrain components will lead to a much more reliable product and runtime that is “first in its class” compared with price,” said Shane Wilson, VP of Engineering and Operations. Learn more:  Hisunmotors.com

Comment:  Whereas in the past electric utility vehicles have mainly been targeted at the hunting market, newer models like the Sector E1 are looking for a broader appeal for work or recreation applications. In part the trend is because the hunting segment has turned out to be a niche market, but advances in battery and powertrain technology is also increasing the range and potential end use applications for electric UTVs.

Club Car Accessory Packages for Carryall Models

Club Car is targeting the commercial market with the Carryall 700 and other vehicles.

Club Car is targeting the commercial market with the Carryall 700 and other Carryall models.

Club Car continues their targeting of commercial markets with the launching of commercial accessory packages for their Carryall utility vehicles. They are offering model specific packages for the Carryall 300, 500, 550 and 700. The packages are available for gas or electric models. The package for Carryall 300 utility vehicles includes:

  • A cargo box
  • Tailgate tethers
  • Heavy-duty trailer hitch
  • Tail lights, brake lights, turn signal and horn

The package for the Carryall 500 utility vehicle includes:

  • A cargo box
  • Tailgate tethers
  • Improved ride quality
  • Tail lights, brake lights, turn signal and horn

The package for the Carryall 550 utility vehicle includes:

  • A cargo box
  • Tailgate tethers
  • Heavy-duty trailer hitch
  • Tail lights, brake lights, turn signal and horn
  • Heavy-duty brush guard
  • Improved ride quality

The package for the Carryall 700 utility vehicle includes:

  • A flat bed
  • Heavy-duty brush guards
  • Tail lights, brake lights and horn

According to Club Car the packages are less expensive compared to purchasing each accessory separately. The accesory packages for each model are “…based on a detailed analysis of buying patterns of commercial companies, so it includes the accessories most commonly ordered for that vehicle by customers…”. Learn more:  Clubcar.com

Comment:  Club Car has been rolling out a number of products and services over the past year or so specifically targeting commercial segments. They have launched the new Carryall vehicles, new accessories, fleet management and maintenance services and now these accessory packages. With the decline and now stagnation in the golf car fleet market, the golf car manufacturers are looking to commercial and other non-fleet markets to boost sales of vehicles as well as parts, accessories and related services. Club Car is marketing to specific verticals, which they have defined as Resorts, Education, Non-Industrial Rentals, Industrial Rentals and Government.

Buying a Vehicle for Campus Use

The new GEMs for model year 2016.

GEMs are popular for use on campuses for people moving and general utility work applications.

I recently interviewed Andy Kaplan of Dominion Utility Vehicles in Bedford, Virginia about buying a small, task-oriented vehicle for use on a college or university campus. Some common uses for these vehicles include people transport, campus security, general maintenance, grounds keeping and other heavier duty work. He sells the GEM, Polaris Brutus and Gravely Atlas JSV four-wheel drive utility vehicles.

In this and other commercial segments many dealers will bring vehicles to the customer to try out for several hours, a full day or even a few days if their interest is high. If you are in the market for a vehicle, it is wise to do so as it affords you the opportunity to drive and use the vehicle just as if you owned it. The best approach according to Kaplan is to use the vehicle just as you would during a typical work day. You can see how the vehicle handles the terrain, the various tasks, maneuvers in tight spaces and, if exploring electric vehicles, what type of range and charging time you will need on a daily basis.

Another consideration is what are all the tasks for which you will be using the vehicle on campus. If you are hauling material or equipment, how much cargo box and vehicle capacity do you need, how large a cargo box do you need in terms of dimensions and do you need a covered cargo area. If you are carrying tools do you need one or more toolboxes or a ladder rack. One of the advantages of these utility vehicles is that they can be customized to a great degree with many different options and accessories to perform a specific task or set of tasks. By investing the time up front thinking about how you will use the vehicle, you can purchase a vehicle that can be highly versatile, productive and cost-efficient.

Other important considerations include:

  • Campus terrain:  Do you need 4WD for hills, off-road capabilities, turf sensitive tires and handling capabilities, LSV features for public road use, etc.
  • Weather protection:  Do you need protection from the sun or rain, harsh winter weather, allergy issues when mowing, etc
  • People moving:  How much seating capacity do you need? What about creature comforts? If you will be transporting clients or customers, what image and branding reinforcement do you want to convey with the vehicle?

For the complete interview visit our buying guide section.