Another Polaris Recall: RZR, RZR Turbo & GENERAL Vehicles

The model year 2017 is the General 1000 EPS Hunter Edition in Polaris Pursuit Camo is one of the vehicles involved in the recall.

Polaris announced a recall of model year 2016 and 2017 RZR 900, 1000, Turbo and GENERAL 1000 utility vehicles. The recall involves approximately 13,500 vehicles. According to the notice, “The vehicle engine can misfire and the temperatures of the exhaust and nearby components can get too hot and cause the components to melt, and/or a contaminated brake master cylinder may cause unintended brake drag, posing burn and fire hazards.”

Relative to more recent Polaris recalls this one is not that large, but compared to more typical recalls in the industry that involve a few thousand vehicles, this is a large recall. The recall does include RZR 900, 1000 and RZR Turbo models that have previously been recalled. The GENERAL 1000 being involved in a recall is a new development.

Based on recent quarterly earnings calls with Wall Street analysts, the management has put a lot of money and manpower into fixing the underlying product development issues that lead to their recent massive RZR and Ranger recalls. The origin of the issues for this latest recall probably pre-date these efforts, but management is likely disappointed with this development as they have been trying to put these recalls behind them and repair damage to the Polaris brand. A recent report from BMO Capital Markets states that the recall is considered a ‘non-event’ by dealers who are having strong start to the year and think the recall will only have a ‘minimal impact’.

The following information is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Recall Details

Units:  About 13,500 (The RZR Turbo and RZR 900 and 1000 have previously been recalled.)

Description:  This recall involves model year 2016 and 2017 RZR 900, 1000, Turbo and GENERAL 1000 recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs). “Polaris” is printed on the front grill and “RZR” or “GENERAL” is printed on the side of the rear cargo area. The ROVs were sold in various colors. Visit the CPSC website see a complete list of the models involve.

Incidents/Injuries:  Polaris has received 14 reports of vehicles catching fire related to the brake master cylinder and one report of fire and two reports of melting vehicle components related to an engine misfire. No injuries have been reported.

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ROVs and contact Polaris for a free repair. Polaris is contacting all known purchasers directly, and consumers can check their VIN on the Polaris website.

Sold At:  Polaris dealers nationwide from August 2015 through February 2017 for between $12,800 and $24,000.

Importer(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.

Distributor(s):  Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minn.

Manufactured In:  Mexico and U.S.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Cub Cadet Expands Challenger UTV Line

The new Cub Cadet Challenger 750 utility vehicle

The new Cub Cadet Challenger 750 utility vehicle

Cub Cadet Challenger 550

The new Cub Cadet Challenger 550 utility vehicle

Cub Cadet has launched the Challenger 550 and Challenger 750 utility vehicles as they continue to expand the Challenger product line, which already includes the 400, 400 LX, 500, 700 and 750 Crew. The new models continue Cub Cadet’s theme of providing a value oriented offering with a solid set of standard features.

The Challenger 550/750 comes standard with what is essentially a partially enclosed cab with high-sided sealed doors, standard roof and sealed ROPS. Optional upper doors and a rear window are available to create a completely weather-sealed cab. The interior cab design features interior and exterior door handles, a tilting steering wheel, open storage, closed glove box and premium sculpted seats.

The new models are designed for customization with a front accessory mounting panel above the windshield and a rear mounting rack. The cargo bed has integrated attachment points or “T” slots for purpose built accessories. The vertical slots accept standard ¾-inch plywood for partitions and slots on top of the side rails to accommodate standard 1 x 3-inch furring strips.

“Customization of utility vehicles is extremely important according to the customers we continually talk with,” said Tom Mielke, UV Product Marketing Manager, Cub Cadet. “We’ve designed the Challenger Series with exclusive features that give owners the power to customize their utility vehicle for the challenges they face – at the farm, ranch, off-road or in the woods. These new additions continue to raise the bar on standard features, designed around what people want to do with their UV while also improving style, comfort and convenience.”

A growing list of accessories will be available in 2017 to customize the vehicle including:

  • Upper Doors (Pair)
  • Scratch-Resistant Vented or Folding Polycarbonate Windshields
  • Rear Window
  • Spare Tire Mount
  • Dual 11.5-Inch LED Light Bar Kit
  • Four Cube LED Light Kit
  • Rock Sliders
  • Rear Bumper
  • Front and Rear Turf Tires
  • 72-Inch Snow Blade

Key specs and features for the the Challenger 550 and 750 are as follows:

  • 546cc, 27.5 hp EFI engine (550); 735cc, 35.8 hp EFI engine (750)
  • Top speed 45 mph
  • On-demand 2WD/4WD and automatic CVT
  • Selectable locking front/rear differential
  • 3-way adjustable shocks
  • 12″ of ground clearance
  • 26″ tires
  • 500 lb. capacity dump bed
  • 1,200 lb. towing capacity
  • 3,500 lb. winch
  • Sealed windshield
  • High-sided doors
  • Roof
  • LED headlights
  • Available colors:  Cub Yellow, Blue, Red, Black and Camo
  • MSRP:  Challenger 550 – $9,999; Challenger 750 – $10,999

A quick comparison between the Challenger 750 and 700 shows that the 750 has a more powerful engine, larger capacity cargo box by 150 lbs., improved doors and windshield, LED rather than halogen headlights, slightly more ground clearance and a better drivetrain. The differences between the Challenger 550 and 500 are similar.

The new UTVs are available at local Cub Cadet dealers. Learn more:  Cub Cadet

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Can-Am Adds 2017 Maverick X3 Max Models

2017 Can-Am Maverick X3

2017 Can-Am Maverick X3

Can-Am Maverick X3 X ds

2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 X ds

2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs

2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs

Can-Am recently announced their new four-passenger Maverick X3 Max family of vehicles for model year 2017. The lineup includes the Maverick X3 Max, X3 Max X ds and the X3 Max X rs and continues the company’s plan to launch new side-by-side vehicles every six months. Key specs for the Maverick X3 Max include:

  • 154 hp, Rotax ACE 900cc turbocharged engine with electronic fuel injection and Donaldson high-performance air filter
  • Quick Response System X (QRS-X) CVT
  • Selectable 2WD / 4WD with Visco-Lok X auto-locking front differential
  • Dynamic Power Steering
  • 20″ of front and rear suspension travel
  • 4-link Torsional Trailing-arm X rear suspension
  • FOX 2.5 PODIUM Piggyback with QS3 compression adjustment and bottom-out control
  • 13″ of ground clearance
  • Hydraulic brakes with twin-piston calipers
  • 28″ Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires and 14″ aluminum wheels
  • 64″ width
  • Integrated front bumper
  • HMW skid plate
  • Quarter doors
  • LED headlights and tail lights with unique Can-Am LED signature
  • MSRP:  $24,999
  • Available in White

The Maverick X3 Max X ds has many of the same features with the following differences:

  • FOX 2.5 PODIUM RC2 Piggyback with dual speed compression and rebound adjustments
  • 29″ Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires
  • 14″ Aluminum beadlock wheels
  • Slightly longer at 164.4″ vs. 162″
  • MSRP:  $27,399
  • Available in Triple Black and Circuit Yellow

The Maverick X3 Max X rs has many of the same features with the following differences:

  • FOX 2.5 PODIUM RC2 Piggyback with bypass, dual speed compression and rebound adjustments in the front
  • FOX 3.0 PODIUM RC2 remote reservoir with bypass, dual speed compression and rebound adjustments in the rear
  • 22″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 14″ of ground clearance
  • 30″ Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires
  • 14″ Aluminum beadlock wheels
  • 72″ width compared to 64″
  • Slightly more than 100 lbs heavier
  • Full roof
  • MSRP:  $29,099
  • Available in Triple Black and Gold & Can-Am Red

Learn more:  Can-am.brp.com

Arctic Cat Announces 2017 Special Edition Wildcats

Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport SE EPS

Arctic Cat’s new Wildcat Sport SE EPS

Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail SE EPS

Arctic Cat’s new Wildcat Trail SE EPS

Arctic Cat has announced two new special edition Wildcats for the 2017 model year, the Wildcat Sport SE EPS and the Wildcat Trail SE EPS. Special edition features on these models include:

  • Warn 3,000 lb. synthetic rope winch
  • Polycarbonate half windshield
  • Electronic power steering
  • Aluminum rims polished with black inlays
  • Infinitely adjustable tilt steering
  • TEAM Rapid Response clutch
  • Electronic 2WD/4WD front differential lock
  • 2″ receiver
  • Shocks
    • Trail SE EPS:  FOX premium gas-charged shocks
    • Sport SESEPs: King aluminum gas shocks with single-speed adjustment

The Wildcat Sport SE EPS retails for $16,499 and the Wildcat Trail SE EPS for $14,699.

Other key specs for the Wildcat Sport SE EPS include:

  • 700cc, 4-stroke, twin cylinder engine
  • 36 amp alternator
  • Double-A-arm front and rear suspension
  • 12.2″/12.6″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 13″ of ground clearance
  • 26″ Carlisle Trail Pro tires
  • Halogen headlights and LED brake/tail lights
  • Digital instrumentation
  • 300 lb. cargo box
  • 1,500 lb. towing capacity
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Full doors
  • Matte Black automotive-style paint

Key specs for the Wildcat Trail SE EPS include:

  • 700cc, 4-stroke, twin cylinder engine
  • 36 amp alternator
  • Double-A-arm front and rear suspension
  • 10″/10.5″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 10″ of ground clearance
  • 25″ Carlisle Trail Pro tires
  • Halogen headlights and LED brake/tail lights
  • Digital instrumentation
  • 300 lb. cargo box
  • 1,500 lb. towing capacity
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Full doors
  • Matte Black automotive-style paint

 

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

Self-Driving Vehicles = Growth For STOVs?

Google Prototype self-driving low-speed vehicle.

My colleague recently penned an article exploring the nexus of self-driving cars and golf car-type vehicles. Some of the key takeaways:

  • Hardware costs are dropping precipitously and may soon be within striking distance of being affordable for golf car type vehicles.
  • Golf car manufacturers are already exploring the technology and in some cases conducting testing.
  • Other companies are using GEM vehicles as self-driving test vehicles.
  • Gated communities with low speed vehicles provide a lower complexity environment that is more conducive to self-driving solutions.
  • Self-driving technology could expand potential growth avenues in non-golf car markets, an area of focus for golf car manufacturers

The article points to gated communities and urban fleets as potential market segments for deployment of self-driving technology. There are also other potential market impacts not addressed in the article that this technology can have.

For one, self-driving technology could provide an impetus for LSVs sales in the personal transportation sector. Purpose made LSVs have not quite reached their potential in this segment due to the relative cost of LSVs compared to the available market alternatives such as used golf cars, golf cars modified to be LSV compliant, customized golf cars and new golf cars. Put simply, not enough customers have found the additional price of LSVs to be worth the additional benefits. LSVs for personal transportation have done best where local regulations have favored them such as where golf cars or modified golf cars are not allowed on public roads but LSVs are, or where night time driving or other driving restrictions require LSV compliant technology.

Self-driving technology could be a differentiator for personal transportation LSVs. Since they are higher priced, LSVs are likely to feature self-driving technology before traditional golf cars. While it is possible existing golf cars could be retrofitted with self-driving technology, it may prove cost prohibitive and, more importantly, likely to encounter regulatory issues. It’s one thing to slap on some lights and an auto-style windshield, it’s quite another to install the software and hardware components necessary to create a self-driving vehicle, not to mention supporting the system with updates moving forward.

Regulatory issues brings to mind another consideration in regard to self-driving technology, medium speed vehicles (MSVs). While a few states in the US allow medium speed vehicles, at the Federal level NHTSA has never created a MSV classification and, in fact, has strongly opposed the idea on safety grounds. A MSV would require prohibitively expensive safety features akin to a highway capable vehicle.

Can self-driving change this dynamic? It is a possibility worth considering. In January, 2017 NHTSA completed their investigation (PDF file) of Tesla’s Autopilot and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system, which was initiated following a fatal crash of a Tesla with a tractor trailer in Florida. Their conclusion was that, “A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted.” However, for the purposes of this discussion, the most important finding of the report was related to Tesla vehicles before and after they had Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Package (ATP) installed at purchase or through updates. “The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation.”

This is an astonishing drop, and even more so considering it does not take into account whether Autopilot was in use. Therefore, this improvement is likely a conservative finding. The question is straightforward. Can MSVs use self-driving technology to make them safe enough to pass NHTSA’s regulatory rigor? Why rely on a package of older and likely more expensive safety technology to improve MSV safety when a potentially cheaper and possibly more effective solution is on the horizon. It may soon be time to revisit the possibility of creating an MSV classification, which could open up a range of potential growth markets.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Textron Partners with New Holland on Rustler UTV

New Holland Rustler 850

A partnership between Textron and New Holland bares fruit with the launch of the New Holland Rustler 850.

Textron Specialized Vehicles continues to expand their footprint in the small, task-oriented vehicle market partnering with New Holland to produce the Rustler 850 utility vehicle. New Holland, a leading manufacturer of agricultural machinery, turned to Textron 18 months ago to help them update their Rustler brand of utility vehicles with a new vehicle. The partnership makes sense for both companies. For Textron Specialized Vehicles, the partnership gives them access to New Holland’s well-established distribution channel in the ag market. For New Holland, they can more efficiently use their product development resources by taking advantage of Textron Specialized Vehicle’s expertise in utility vehicles. One challenge for the new vehicle will be the relatively depressed demand in the ag market that has been ongoing for a number of quarters.

The Rustler 850 is based on a Textron chassis but has a number of features and characteristics based on New Holland’s market knowledge and feedback from their dealers. These include:

  • 1,000 lb. capacity cargo bed that can fit a full pallet
  • 1,500 lb. payload capacity
  • 2,000 lb. towing capacity
  • 45 mph top speed for more speed than some other farm focused UTVs
  • Front end design that recalls their T6/T7 tractors
  • Trademark New Holland blue color

Other key features include:

  • 62 hp, OHC, EFI engine
  • All-Wheel Drive with automatic locking front differential and selectable locking rear differential
  • Dual A-arm front and rear suspension with performance shocks
  • 9.3″/10.4″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 11.25″ of ground clearance
  • Electronic power steering
  • 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
  • 26″ Kenda All-Terrain tires
  • ROPS and 3-point seat-belts
  • Front steel brush guard

Current available attachments include a LED light package and winch with a cab with heater, electric dump bed and camo graphics in development. A four-person version is also in the product line plan. The Rustler 850 will be available this spring.

Learn more:  Farmindustrynews.com

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

How Will Textron’s Arctic Cat Acquisition Impact The STOV Market

Textron E-Z-GO Logo

Textron’s recent acquisition of Arctic Cat raises some interesting questions about the acquisition itself and how other companies in the market may react. In particular, what does the acquisition mean for Club Car.

One question is whether or not Textron will continue investing in the Bad Boy Off-Road brand. Except for the electric powered Bad Boy Off-Road UTVs the brand’s product offerings are redundant given the more popular Arctic Cat product lineup. One can argue that the dealer networks are sufficiently different that the brands can effectively reach different customer bases and not cannibalize each other’s sales.  A quick perusal of the Bad Boy dealer network indicates that most of their dealer s are golf car related with some power sports dealers. Moving forward, Bad Boy how much resources are put into product development, and what type of vehicles they develop should indicate the direction the brand will take in the context of Arctic Cat acquisition.

Another issue is the potential clash of corporate cultures between Textron Specialized Vehicles and Arctic Cat. Textron is a large conglomerate with over $13 billion in sales annually and a particular corporate culture while Arctic Cat is a much smaller company coming out of a powersports background. How well these companies will mesh will be interesting to see. Keeping Arctic Cat as a stand alone operating unit can mitigate any cultural problems to a certain degree. However, any future financial difficulties at Arctic Cat could generate more intrusion from Textron management regarding Arctic Cat operations.

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

A more intriguing question is how the acquisition of Arctic Cat might impact Club Car, which is now the only large stand alone fleet golf car manufacturer. While Yamaha Golf Cars are separate from their UTV and ATVs business, they are both part of their Power Products division. Similarly Textron has developed their Textron Specialty Vehicles division that combines a range of small, task-oriented vehicles from airport tugs, to fleet golf cars to off-road ATVs and UTVs.

Ingersoll-Rand and Club Car has taken a decidedly different approach. Rather than collecting other categories of vehicles, they have opted to focus on building out the sales of golf cars for personal/golf use and commercial oriented utility vehicles that are based off of their golf car platform. Management confirmed this approach when asked about the Arctic Cat acquisition during their recent fourth quarter earnings call.  According to recent financial results Club Car has been successful with positive growth in the commercial/utility segment while the fleet side continues to lag. However, the business is relatively small compared to the overall size of the company which had $13.5 billion in sales in 2016, and Club Car is part of their smaller Industrial segment.

This raises the possibility that Club Car may be an inviting candidate for divestiture. But who might be interested in buying Club Car? One possibility is Honda Motor. They already have a range of motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and scooters. An acquisition of Club Car could further diversify their vehicle portfolio. In addition, golf is a popular sport in Japan so there could be some degree of personal affinity among the management towards owning a leading golf car company. Club Car would offer a premium brand and a different distribution channel that might be useful for moving other Honda products. It would also add some electric vehicle expertise to Honda as well as additional global manufacturing capabilities.

Another possibility is Polaris, which has been acquiring small vehicle brands over the past several years. Polaris tends to acquire leading brands in a particular segment and many consider Club Car to be the leading golf car brand. Besides the premium brand, Club Car would bring some other positives to the table:

  • Global brand and distribution
  • China based manufacturing facilities as well as Southeast US facilities and supplier network not far from Polaris’ new Huntsville, AL facility
  • Large volume of electric vehicle sales that can be used spread costs of new battery and electric powertrain development.
  • Entry into the golf car segment
  • Largely separate distribution channel from existing products but similar enough to cross-sell some other Polaris brands
  • Good presence in commercial small vehicle market that Polaris has been targeting

The one drawback is that, from previous presentations, Polaris management considers the golf car segment a low growth segment. In large part this is due to the stagnant fleet golf car market which is the major portion of the golf car segment. However, E-Z-GO’s recent introduction of lithium battery powered fleet golf cars represents a potentially significant shift in the market. If lithium battery golf cars can disrupt the fleet market, this might create a more appealing market to Polaris. Providing an opportunity to leverage their expertise in electric vehicles, increase electric vehicle unit volume to lower costs and find a growth avenue in an otherwise stagnant fleet market. Despite recent headwinds from recall issues, Polaris still has the financial resources for such an acquisition. It will be interesting to see if they move in this direction.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

John Deere Streamlines Gator Production

Marc Cesare,, Smallvehicleresource.com

John Deere's New Four Seat XUV 825i S4

A four seat Gator utilty vehicle from John Deere, the XUV 825i S4

John Deere is close to finishing an expansion of their Horicon Works facility in Wisconsin to consolidate Gator utility operations under one roof. The 388,000 square foot expansion allows the company to add assembly and shipping to production operations at the location. Management expects the move to be completed by March 2017. As part of the expansion, 70 new assembly jobs and 10 salary positions will be added to the existing work force of about 1,000. According to management, “We’ll be able to serve our dealers and customers better, improve the overall quality of the vehicles, and make our operations more efficient.”

While the growth in the UTV market has slowed, investments like this and others from the major players indicate that they continue to expect some market growth. John Deere spent an estimated $35 million on the expansion. The work and commercial utility segment, where the Gator is popular, has been targeted by a number of companies in search of sales growth. Coupled with the lower overall UTV market growth and other factors, this has increased the competition in the UTV market.

Learn more:  Stackyard.com

Star EV Launches Sirius Luxury Golf Car

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

The new Sirius electric vehicle from Star EV

The new Sirius electric vehicle from Star EV at the PGA Show.

At 2017 PGA Merchandise Show electric vehicle manufacturer Star EV revealed their new luxury golf car model, the Sirius. The Sirius has a 4kW AC motor, 350 A Curtis AC controller and has a top speed of 19.5 mph or 25 mph for the LSV version. Other features include:

  • Electronic locking trunk
  • USB port
  • LED illuminated dashboard
  • Self-canceling turn signals
  • Large bagwell
  • Optional golf ball holder inserts
  • Optional 2-in-1 Combo Seat

Star EV showcased the standard Sirius model with the Combo Seat and a customized version showing off the company’s available accessories such as multiple wheel options. While the models at the show were standard 2 and 4-passenger vehicles, the Sirius line will expand to include 6 and 8 passenger models. The Sirius will be available at Star EV dealers later this summer.

It will be interesting to see what the pricing for the vehicle will be compared to other offerings in the market. I don’t believe it will be at the level of a Garia, but where will the Sirius sit in the market, given the features and price, relative to offerings from Club Car, E-Z-GO and Yamaha?. This could be the start of a trend towards offering more “luxury” models if the larger manufacturers follow suit.

For those interested, Sirius is the brightest star in the Earth’s night sky and is derived from the ancient Greek word for “glowing” or “scorcher”, according to Wikipedia.

Learn more:  PRweb.com