Archive for the ‘Side-by-side’ Category

Polaris Kicks Off 2011 With RZR XP 900

January 1, 2011

 

Polaris RZR XP 900

Polaris Industries started the new year in powerful fashion today announcing its new RZR XP 900 in what it calls “a whole new class” of SXS vehicles. The 2011 RZR XP 900 has a new 875cc,  88 hp, ProStar 900 Twin EFI engine with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and a new 3-link trailing arm independent rear suspension with 13 inches of ground clearance. You can read a complete information package on the Polaris website by clicking here.

“When we set out to design the RANGER RZR XP 900,” said Matt Homan, vice president and general manager of Polaris’ Off-Road Vehicles Division, “we wanted to create a ground-breaking, high performance vehicle to complement our current, best-selling RANGER RZR line. The result is simply incredible.”

How will the RZR 900 be received? Interesting question. Here’s one comment from a discussion last month speculating on the new Polaris release: “I sure hope it is something worth while. If they make this big announcement for an 850 it will be a disappointment in my eyes as far as lot of others as well. Come on 951 CC or 1100 would be even better!”

Well, the 875cc power plant didn’t make that mark and it doesn’t match the top-of-the-line BRP Commander 1000 on several points, notably engine size (875cc vs. 976cc and price, $15,999 vs $14,999). It does win on horsepower (88 vs 85) and ground clearance (13 inches vs. 11 inches), however. If you’re interested in making more comparisons between the Polaris RZR 900 and the BRP Commander 1000, click here for RZR 900 specs and click here for BRP Commander 1000 specs.

The RZR 900 also includes several premium features, including the industry’s first factory LED headlights, performance brake calipers and large diameter, ventilated rotors on all four wheels, completely adjustable Fox Podium X 2.0 shocks on all four wheels and high performance  ITP 900 XCT tires. The RZR 900 also features a large grill opening and a front air dam for improved air flow. For safety, the RANGER RZR XP 900 has a certified roll-over protective structure (ROPS).

The RZR XP 900 carries an MSRP of $15,999 and will be available in Polaris dealerships this month. JD

Contact me with story ideas or news tips at
612/845-8091 or joe@powersportsupdate.com

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Surging Mower Sales: Good News for Powersports?

June 14, 2010

Joe Delmont

Now, that’s a good question.

If a homeowner is willing to pop for a $10,000 deluxe lawn mower, does that mean he’s likely to spend a similar amount for a motorcycle or a SxS vehicle this year? Or does it mean that the purchase of one fancy motor machine is enough for now? I don’t have the answer, but I just the fact that consumers are spending 10,000 bucks for a machine with more power and features than they need— really an unnecessary purchase— seems to bode well for our industry. It could be another positive sign of sales improvement over the next few months.

The Wall Street Journal today reports that after double digit decreases for the past two years, U.S. shipments of riding mowers are expected to climb more than six percent over the next two years. At John Deere, for example, sales are “far exceeding” forecasts, according to the story.

We’re not talking basic grass cutters here; the machines that sell have iPod compartments, chrome hub caps, comfortable seats, plenty of power and agility and sell for more than $10,000. “It goes well beyond cupholders,” notes a representative of the popular Cub Cadet brand.

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BRP’s New SxS Aims at Polaris’ RZR

June 7, 2010

Can-Am Commanders Feature Power, Performance, Utility

The Can-Am Commander 1000 X tops 72 mph with its 85 hp Rotax EFI V-twin.

BRP’s Can-Am Commander, the high powered 1000cc side-by-side vehicle that has had the market buzzing for weeks, finally was rolled out at the BRP dealer meeting in Reno last night.

There will be five models: the Commander 800R and 800XT and the Commander 1000, 100XT and 1000X. The X model gets the high performance package and special graphics.

So, what’s to add after all the Internet talk and spy photos? Some facts, a bit of perspective and a forecast, perhaps. I recently spoke at length with Yves Leduc, vice president and general manager for BRP’s North America Division, and others at the company and throughout the industry about the machine and its impact on this very important industry segment. Here’s what I found out and what I think the impact of this machine will have on the segment.

Yves Leduc

First of all, the folks in Valcourt are taking dead aim at their neighbors in Minnesota, and it sounds like they have the ammunition to make life difficult for Polaris, the makers of this year’s oh, so hot RZR.

Make no mistake, when BRP executives use the term, “no compromise” in describing the new Commander SxS family, they mean it’s going to outperform Polaris in every way possible. And from what I can gather—without having ridden or even seen the Commander first hand— they may have done just that.

Yamaha’s Rhino, the machine that launched the Rec-UT category, isn’t much of a player at this time, given consumer reluctance to get too close to the lawsuit-prone vehicle. And Yamaha hasn’t made any significant changes since the 2009 model year. So, it really comes down to BRP’s Commander against the Polaris RZR lineup.

One experienced off-road rider, who is very close to Polaris, says the Commander is a better performer, is better engineered and has better fit and finish. At about the same MSRP, that’s going to make a show floor buying decision pretty easy, even for die-hard Polaris fans.

Here’s just one pre-launch quote I pulled from a Polaris forum: “If they put a 900 Rotax in (the Commander), I would be tempted (to buy it).” Well, hello. The Commander 1000 comes with a 1000cc, EFI V-Twin Rotax. There you go.

And the Commander 1000X performance package carries an MSRP of $14,699 vs Ranger RZR S at $13,999 with only a 760cc EFI V-twin, generating 55 hp and a top speed of 63 mph. It has a carrying capacity of 300 lbs. The Commander generates 83 hp, has 600 lbs carrying capacity, 1,500 towing capacity, and a top speed of 72-mph to 75 mph, a BRP official told me. The RZR does have better ground clearance at 12.5 inches vs. 11 inches for the Commander, and the Commander is heavier at 1,200 lbs vs. 1,100 pounds for the RZR.

One interesting feature is the Commander’s two level cargo bed with a 600 lb carrying capacity, 400 lbs up, and another 200 lbs below in a lockable storage bin with a removable divider.

Here’s another unique engineering twist: Both passenger and driver seats can be easily removed for free-standing use in the field. Why sit on the ground, when you can pull the padded seats from your SxS and relax in them? It’s one of those ideas, like, why didn’t I think of that?

BRP Rollout Plans

“We said at the end of 2007 that we would have a side-by-side in 2010, and here we are,” Yves Leduc, BRP’s Can-Am chief, told me last week. “Despite the worst recession in history, we stayed the course. We could have postponed this project, but, instead, we made it a priority.”

Leduc likes the way the timing worked out. “If you compare our entry here with our ATV entry in 1999, it’s two different worlds. With ATVs, we entered a mature market with six very strong competitors.”

Now, BRP has several things going for it, says Leduc:

  • Very strong recognition for the Can-Am brand.
  • A dynamic and changing market segment for performance machines.
  • Limited competition, essentially only Polaris.
  • A unique segment that provides the best features of performance and utility machines.

“Clearly, we saw an opportunity to define the segment, a no compromise segment, when we started looking at this three years ago,” says Leduc. And it appears they did just that.

The Commander lineup, says BRP, feaures “the best handling in the industry” with power and work capacity. “It’s not an extreme sport vehicle,” says Leduc, “it’s a comfortable sport package, one that allows you to get the maximum out of the vehicle.”

BRP’s target buyer? “It’s the enthusiast; that’s clearly the buyer for the Can-Am, they tend to make it part of their lifestyle. That’s the emerging buyer for the SxS, many of whom never owned an ATV. We’re also targeting hunters and fishermen and large estate owners, who want the best.”

The Can-Am lineup will be rolled out to about two-thirds of the company’s dealer network in all states right away. He wouldn’t tell me how many dealers will receive machines or how many will be available this summer.

Limited distribution will begin in July, mostly to Quebec dealers, and demo rides are planned across the U.S. this summer. Full production will begin this fall in Mexico, accompanied by a major advertising blitz.

“The idea,” says Leduc, “is for us to get feedback from this first generation of users as we start shipping and adjust as we go along.”

At the same time that North American dealers get the machine, it will be launched internationally in all countries in which BRP has direct distribution, including Germany, Austria, the UK, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, New-Zealand, and Japan. Then it will be sent to BRP’s authorized distributors, reaching a total of more than 50 countries.

The Can-Am Commander 1000 XT will be homologated for use on European roads.

BRP doesn’t have an electric model, nor a four-seater to match Polaris, and there aren’t any coming as part of this launch. “But,” says Leduc, “you can count on BRP continuing to improve the lineup.”

So, the battle is joined. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at jdelmont@dealernews.com or 952/893-6876.

BRP Readies Launch of Hot SxS Lineup

May 31, 2010

New Models Could Be Released Within Two Weeks

You can spell the DNA of Canada’s BRP powersports manufacturer as EXCITEMENT. No conservative, working machines for this global OEM based in Valcourt, Quebec. It builds and sells the high performance Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft, and Can-Am ATVs, and the category building, on-road three-wheel Spyder.

So, when we start talking about BRP launching a line-up of side-by-side machines, we’re not talking about another lawn tractor. We’re talking about something like Polaris‘s very hot RZR UTV. Expect to see the new models from BRP before mid-June.

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Proposed Rules Could Severely Restrict UTV Use

March 4, 2010

We have until March 15 to comment on these
CPSC rules that could virtually ban UTVs.

Have you commented yet? If not, you should.

Here are the details.

The CPSC’s proposed mandatory standards spell out how off-road vehicles must be designed, manufactured and used by riders. Meanwhile, at the same time that the CPSC is pushing its rules, the industry has been developing its own voluntary standards.

Paul Vitrano

If you think government mandated standards will benefit our industry, then you don’t have to do anything. If, however, you think perhaps the industry can produce more effective standards, now is the time to step up and make your thoughts known.

A unit of the MIC, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA), has created new tools for riders and dealers to easily submit comments. You can do it at http://www.rohva.org/anpr.

The sample letters urge CPSC to work with ROHVA to implement voluntary standards and to promote the safety rules for ROVs, also called SXS or UTV units. The page also contains explanations of ROHVA’s position on ROV standards and links to important documents.

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Rhino Suits Beg the Question: Is Product or Driver to Blame?

February 4, 2009

The father of Michael Lane McCloud, passenger on a Yamaha Rhino that flipped over, landed on top of and killed the young man in August of 2008, filed suit in Dallas County on Monday.

Michael McCloud alleges that Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.,yamaharhino Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., are negligent for failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of plaintiffs by negligently designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling the vehicle without the necessary safety features.

The lawsuit further alleges Yamaha is negligent for failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of plaintiffs by negligently designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling the vehicle without the necessary safety features.

What McCloud’s attorney, Rob Ammons of Houston-based Ammons Law Firm, failed to disclose in his Internet-posted press release was 1) how old the driver was, 2) in what manner the Rhino was being operated, and 3) whether the existing passenger restraints were being used.

One thing is for certain: Lawsuits pertaining to the Rhino side-by-side are mounting against Yamaha, and the OEM’s legal department is going to have to conduct a massive effort to defend the company from fault in a society where the call for litigation evidently trumps personal responsibility.

Kawasaki – Made in the USA

January 6, 2009

Kawasaki operates six businesses in the United States, two of which pertain to consumer products:kmm1 Kawasaki Motor Corp USA (KMC), the sales unit, and Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA (KMM), the production unit.

KMM, a sister company and supplier to Irvine, Calif.-based KMC, has operations in Lincoln, Neb., and Maryville, Mo. KMM builds all of Kawasaki’s ATVs, Jet Ski personal watercraft and Mule utility vehicles.

Here’s what I learned during a visit to the Lincoln site.

Kawasaki became the first foreign vehicle manufacturer to enter the U.S. The consumer products manufacturing facility in Lincoln, located on 335 acres, opened in 1974 as a 286,000 sq. ft. plant.
At the time, the company was producing motorcycle and personal watercraft stateside, cranking out about 50,000 units annually during those first few years.

pwctops21 pwchullprep3 pwcengineplacement

Today, an estimated 1,000 workers produce about 120,000 vehicles each year at the nearly 1.3 million sq. ft. facility. Production operations include fiberglass molding, fabrication, welding, rim forming, painting and assembly. The site also produces wheels sold to BRP, Honda, Polaris and Suzuki.

welding atv_engines atvframe

Bruce Spilker, a KMM production supervisor, says the three ATV assembly lines in Lincoln produce about 100 units daily while the personal watercraft assembly line kicks out about 120 boats per day. Each production line is capable of mixed model production. Production schedules come monthly from KMC. A recently completed fourth assembly line, formerly dedicated to motorcycle assembly, produces Mule utility vehicles.

atvchassis bodyplacement wheelattachment

KMM’s Maryville plant opened in 1989 for production of general-purpose engines. Employing more than 600 workers, the facility has grown to more than 700,000 sq. ft. on 113.7 acres and produces about 500,000 units annually. Workers complete die-casting, injection molding, machining, painting and assembly.

atvfinished testing2 finishedproduct1

Both the Lincoln and Maryville plants operate on a “just in time” supply method, which eliminates massive amounts of warehousing and over-ordering of parts.

Click here to learn more about powersports manufacturers’ operations in the U.S.

Motion Filed to Consolidate Yamaha Rhino Suits

January 2, 2009

A motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize product liability lawsuits related to the Yamaha Rhino. Although Yamaha has not confirmed how many cases have been filed by injured riders, estimates suggest that more than 200 lawsuits against the Rhino are currently pending in various state courts and federal courts throughout the country.

Several plaintiffs who have pending cases are requesting that 57 Rhino ATV lawsuits be transferred from

Yamaha markets five Rhino models for 2009. The units sell for a suggested retail price of between $8,499 and $12,399.

Yamaha markets five Rhino models for 2009. The units sell for a suggested retail price of between $8,499 and $12,399.

33 different U.S. District Courts to one court where they will be coordinated as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. An MDL is a federal procedure that allows multiple cases with common underlying facts to be consolidated for pretrial litigation. An MDL is often granted in cases where it will help avoid duplicative discovery, eliminate inconsistent rulings, conserve the resources of the parties and the court, and serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses.

The Yamaha Rhino was first introduced in 2003. The product liability lawsuits all allege that design defects in the side-by-side ATV caused the vehicle to rollover, resulting in serious and debilitating injuries for riders. The lawsuits allege that the Rhino was negligently designed with a narrow wheelbase, high center of gravity, small turning radius and powerful engine, which combine to make the vehicle inherently unstable.

In September 2006, Yamaha sent a letter to owners acknowledging the risk of rollovers. In the letter, they outlined that riders should be careful to keep their arms and legs inside the vehicle during a rollover. The OEM began offering doors and additional passenger handlebars in 2007.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will consider the Motion filed by some of the plaintiffs to form a Yamaha Rhino ATV Products Liability MDL at a hearing scheduled for January 29 at the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Fort Myers, Fla.

Baltimore-based Saiontz, Kirk & Miles, P.A.
 is among the many law firms pursuing litigation. Saiontz, Kirk & Miles, P.A has more information pertaining to the Yamaha Rhino suits at its website, AboutLawsuits.com.