Asian manufacturers offer larger vehicles, but is bigger better?

Publish Date: 
Apr 1, 2007
By Guido Ebert

Larger displacement ATVs and UTVs sourced from overseas proved to be a dominant trend at the 2007 Dealer Expo.

Just a couple of years ago, Expo attendees saw the largest product coming from Taiwan, Korea, China and other "New Asian" manufacturers represented by 200cc, 250cc or 300cc units. Now, product on display includes 450cc units, 500cc units, and even 650cc vehicles. What's driving the shift to larger displacement?

"The American market is what's driving it," says Joel Lehr, customer service manager at Team Joyner USA. "Everybody wants more power."

Joyner imports and markets two UTVs sourced from China. One is powered by a three-cylinder 800cc engine sourced from a Chinese automobile; the other is powered by a 650cc engine from an Isuzu pickup.

"What they're doing is responding to North America's desire for more horsepower, and so they've been going through a cumbersome couple of years trying to figure out how to build something bigger," says Matt Clayton, product specialist at Goldenvale Inc., importer of the Roketa brand of quad. "So in the last few years the factories have been trying to find ways to get these 400cc, 450cc, 500cc and 650cc units."

Jose Villegas, vice president of marketing at United Motors, agrees that the switch to larger displacement ATVs is a result of market demand in the United States. UM is preparing to offer a sport quad called the Moontrax 450R, made in South Korea using Hyosung technology.

"The market has been flooded with small-displacement ATVs, and that's why you see so many companies trying to move up to the higher displacement ATVs," says Villegas. "But it's going to take a higher quality product to really meet the customers' demands."

There are other factors. "The capability and technology to build the larger units was lacking for most of the [New Asian] companies you're now seeing with that product," adds Henry Lonski, vice president of sales at UM. "We're talking about a developing market that started with 50cc units, which grew to 150cc units and 250cc. And now that they've got that dialed, they're starting to develop the higher displacement vehicles. So what is driving the development of these larger vehicles made in China is capability, technology, education and the actual ability to do it." (continued)