Posts Tagged ‘Polaris’

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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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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Polaris Outperforms May Stock Slump

May 31, 2010

Dow and S&P 500 Decline Sharply

Polaris Industries common stock lost ground in May, but its decline was only about one-third of the ground lost by leading market indicators, and it was much better than two other powersports stocks, Harley-Davidson and Arctic Cat.

Polaris closed May 28, 2010, at $58.70, off $2.35, or 3.8%, from its close on May 3 of $61.05. Polaris stock was given a strong boost on May 24 when analyst Joe Hovorka of Raymond James upgraded his Polaris rating from Market Perform (third level rating) to Strong Buy (top rating).

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Polaris Gears Up Off-road Production

May 24, 2010

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal (5/24/2010) outlines the moves that Polaris Industries is making to adjust its short ORV (off-road vehicle) production capabilities to meet the growing demand for off-road vehicles, especially its hot RZR four-passenger model UTV machines. Read WSJ story here.

Bennett Morgan

The story describes Polaris efforts to hike production as dealers moan about lost sales because of inventory shortages. One group of Polaris dealers I contacted reported selling 53 more RZRs through April this year than it did in 2009, 25 of which were four-seaters. “Supply is definitely a problem,” one dealer told me.  “If we’d had another 25 of them to sell, they would have gone too.”

The shortages are a major change for Polaris, which used to be accused of overloading its dealers with inventory. This year, Polaris expects its North American inventories to be the lowest that they’ve been since 1997, reports the Journal, although it doesn’t break out those inventory levels by product line.

Even though low inventories could hurt 2010 wholesale sales, it’s the right strategy, long-term, Scott Wine, Polaris CEO, told the Journal. “It’s a work in progress,” he said.

After reading the Journal report, I checked with Bennett Morgan, Polaris president and COO, about the Polaris inventory situation and its moves to gear up production.

“We are pleased to have had success in working with our dealers over the past few years to bring dealer inventory down to lower, more effective levels,” says Morgan, “and feel pretty good where we are today.” Morgan said the company is “tight” on a few key models, but he said Polaris is “working hard to increase our supply to meet growing demand.” He noted that the sales forecast that Polaris gave to its shareholders for the second  quarter was increased to 14 percent to 17 percent, compared to Q2 2009.

Regarding adjusting its production to meet the increased demand, Morgan said the company “significantly” increased production in the second quarter by adding staff and boosting line rates.

He said production this quarter has been increased by adding back additional second shifts at the plants in Spirit Lake, Iowa,  and Roseau, Minnesota, for off-road products.  “We have added over 200 hourly production line positions in the second quarter already,” Morgan told me today, “and (we) expect to add that many or more in the next 60 days.  We are also working overtime and some Saturdays.”

During the last couple of years, the suburban Minneapolis OEM has made aggressive strides to dump its reputation as a channel stuffer that pushed excess inventory on its overloaded dealers. The company’s innovative ordering system— Maximum Velocity Program— that it launched a couple of years ago, allows dealers to purchase machines every two weeks rather than twice a year.

Something like 70 percent of Polaris dealers are expected to be on the new system this year. That’s close to all of the eligible dealers, because many of Polaris dealers are too small to participate in the program. JD

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

Feds Investigate Chinese IPR Theft

May 7, 2010

Hearing Scheduled for June 15, 2010.
It’s an Opportunity To Tell Your Story.

Another federal agency has joined the battle on Chinese manufacturers who are selling illegal goods in the U.S. First, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) took aim at Chinese with its child safety provisions, then the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began grabbing containers of Chinese powersports products as they entered U.S. ports looking for emissions violations.

Now the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched an investigation into the effects of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement on the U.S. economy and U.S. jobs. The investigation was requested by the Senate Finance Committee.

The investigation will study violations of copyrights, patents, trademarks, and design registrations.

The ITC  will  publish its findings in two reports. The first will provide a description of the types of reported IPR infringement and China’s related policies on procurement of “indigenous innovation” which could limit the sale of U.S. products within China. This could be of special interest to U.S. companies such as Polaris and Harley-Davidson as they attempt to expand into the Chinese consumer markets.

The second report could be much more explosive. It will describe the size and scope of IPR infringement by Chinese companies and the effect of these actions on U.S. jobs and on the sales and profits of U.S. companies. In addition to Polaris, Harley and Arctic Cat, among others, these companies include U.S. operations of Japanese companies such as Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha, according to an ITC official.

Depending upon how broadly the ITC wants to define U.S. companies, it could include most powersports companies doing business here, including OEMs such as BRP, KTM, Piaggio and Triumph, as well as aftermarket companies.

The report on types of IPR infringement is due by Nov. 19, 2010, and the second— on the impact of these infringements— is due May 2, 2011.

In requesting the investigation, Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) wrote that more than 80 percent of goods seized at U.S. ports for IPR infringements came from China. He also noted that intellectual property accounts for more than 40 percent of U.S. economic growth.

As part of the investigation, the USITC will hold a public hearing  on June 15, 2010. Written comments also will be accepted. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

I’ve been hearing for years about how Chinese manufacturers steal designs and produce replicas of popular machines and PG&A items made by U.S.,  Japanese and other manufacturers. Now is your chance to step forward and describe how your products have been illegally copied and how you have been financially injured.

If you’re concerned about dealing with the ITC but want to tell your story, contact me. I can get your information to the ITC.

Here is important information if you wish to submit comments to the ITC:

DATES
June 1, 2010: Deadline for filing requests to appear at the public hearing.
June 3, 2010: Deadline for filing pre-hearing briefs and statements.
June 15, 2010: Public hearing.
June 22, 2010: Deadline for filing post-hearing briefs and statements.
July 9, 2010: Deadline for filing all other written submissions.
Nov. 19, 2010: First report due to the Senate Finance Committee.
May 2, 2011: Second report due to the Senate Finance Committee.

ADDRESSES
All Commission offices, including the Commission’s hearing rooms, are located in the United States International Trade Commission Building
500 E Street SW, Washington, DC.
All written submissions should be addressed to the Secretary, United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

The public record for this investigation may be viewed here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Project Leaders: Katherine Linton (katherine.linton@usitc.gov or 202-205-3393) and Alexander Hammer (alexander.hammer@usitc.gov or 202-205-3271) or Deputy Project Leader Jeremy Wise (jeremy.wise@usitc.gov or 202-205-3190).
Analyst, John Kitzmiller (John.Kitzmiller@usitc.gov or 202-205-3387).  JD

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

Consumers Starting To Spend Again

April 29, 2010

We’ve talked in this space recently about indications that consumers might be getting tired of their frugal ways and could be itching to spend some of that money they’ve been saving. There are more indications in the news that could be happening.

First quarter profits for several retail companies— from Polaris Industries to Target and Royal Caribbean Cruises— have been encouraging.

Even though unemployment still nearly 10% nationally and the housing market is mixed, at best, consumers seem ready to spend on discretionary items.

“They’ve saved some money, they’ve paid down debt, and at a certain point you just get bored eating frozen pizza and watching cable TV on Saturday night,” Barry Ritholtz, head of the financial research firm FusionIQ told the Associated Press.

Consumer spending has increased for the last five months and retail sales have climbed for the last four months, according to AP research.

But don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, not by a wide margin. Dealers are still going to have to work hard to build traffic and they’re going to have to work even harder to convert that traffic into sales. But there does seem to be more reason for optimism today than there was six months ago. JD

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

MotoVentures: A Day in the Dirt Photo Page

April 7, 2010

Not too long ago, I was invited out to Gary LaPlante’s MotoVentures compound for a day of off-road riding with the crew from Southern California Motorcycles. The excursion was a Christmas gift from owner Tom Hicks to the staff at his Triumph, Ducati, Victory and Polaris dealership.  (READ THE STORY HERE!)

It was fantastic day tearing up the trails at the 300-acre facility near Anza, Ca. — right up until I started crashing … over and over again. I got tired from the first two times hauling the WR450 out of a creek bed and a sand wash and it was all downhill (figuratively) from there. And, the So Cal Motorcycles crew looked like they had a blast. Coming off the bleak stink of dismal cycle sales in 2009, it was probably a nice little energy boost. 

One of the employees, service writer Trevor Dyck, brought along his film camera and shot some really nice analog pics of the day. I forgot how much I like the graininess and realistic feel of photos shot on film. Here’s a bunch of them from the trip. If you get a chance, check out Trevor’s other photos on his website http://trevordyck.com.

 

MotoVentures' Gary LaPlante — trials style. photo by Trevor Dyck

 

photo by Trevor Dyck

 

photo by Trevor Dyck

photo by Trevor Dyck

Polaris Shares $10 Million With Employees

March 5, 2010

28 Straight Years of Profit Sharing

How would you like to pick up a tidy check today for say, oh,  $4,500. That’s four thousand five hundred dollars. In addition to your regular paycheck. You could do just that if you were working at Polaris Industries, based in suburban Minneapolis.

While much of the U.S. powersports industry is struggling to recover from last year’s poor performance, Polaris is continuing an annual tradition of sharing profits with its employees.

Today, the company is handing out nearly $10 million of its profits from the 2009 calendar year among approximately 2,200 hourly and non-salaried Polaris employees. On average, each of these employees will receive nearly 15% of their annual pay base.

In addition, Polaris will distribute profit-sharing payments to each of its full time salaried employees today as well.

“Profit-sharing is something that is very important and fundamental to the culture at Polaris,” said Scott Wine, CEO.

Polaris began sharing its profits with employees in 1982 and has shared more than $200 million with its hourly and non-salaried employees since that time.

Polaris had 2009 sales of $1.6 billion and recorded net income for the year of $ 101.0 million .

For more information on Polaris, visit its website www.polarisindustries.com.  JD

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

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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