Industry estimates suggest the market for ATVs is down in the United States. What analysts often fail to establish, however, is exactly what segments of the market are responsible for the decreased sales. The sport quad market has been a part of the slowdown, but if OEM new product offerings, increased dealer demand and growing distributor business are any indicators, that negative trend is about to change.
"Retail sales in the sport quad market grew dramatically between 2001 and 2004, remained relatively flat for a couple of years, and have dipped significantly this year," says Gary Laskin, ATV product manager, Polaris Industries. "But the sport segment is very product-driven. When manufacturers introduce exciting new products, that tends to drive sales. This year, several manufacturers have introduced great new sport quads, and I'm optimistic that these new products will drive people into showrooms and that retail sales will improve."
Who's the customer?
"Covering all sport models, the gender is 80 percent male and 20 percent female, with the average age being 32," says Rod Lopusnak, ATV operations manager for Suzuki. "Primary riding is sport recreation with some racing. Now, racing means many things to different people. Racing could be competing in a MX or GNCC event or just racing your buddy up a sand dune. But generally they are performance-minded customers."
And where are such vehicles being used?
Can-Am spokesman Chaz Rice says sales have been particularly good in the Southwest and Northeast, but says enthusiasts can be found almost anywhere: "From the dunes to the trails to the track, we see numbers all over the spectrum."
The following pages reveal some of the other trends Dealernews found when investigating the sport ATV market.