Arctic Cat. A new Wildcat 1000 RUV appeared at the end of 2011 and is selling very well to date, which has rejuvenated sales of the OEM’s flagging Prowler series. The company could sell 7,000 to 8,000 units in 2012, and reports are a four-passenger Wildcat will debut near the end of the year.
Kubota Tractor. Kubota’s UTV sales in North America rebounded strongly in 2011, by as much as 15 percent, regaining most of the ground that it lost in 2010 (it dropped 4,000 units between 2009 and 2010, largely because it didn’t keep up with the competition when it came to introducing of new products).
Kubota’s sales increase in 2011 was the result of its introduction of the RTV900 XT extended bed model, an extremely popular move. The model started selling in March, and by the end of 2011 it was selling close to the same number of units as the standard RTV900 model.
Kubota introduced a new RTV400 (little sister of the RTV 500), and sales have been strong so far this year, nearly displacing the 500. Kubota needs to come up with more product offerings, analysts say. A big question is whether the company can compete in the growing competitive RUV segment with Polaris, Deere, Kawasaki, Arctic Cat and BRP.
Honda. Honda has been the sleeping giant in the market since it introduced its first Big Red model in 2008. Big Red sales have peaked, and rumors are that the company has other products in the works, including RUV models. The company could be making a big splash as early as 2013 with additional products, PPM says. If true, this could alter the competitive landscape of the future North American UTV market.
Yamaha. Reports suggest that Yamaha may finally be getting back into the game with new products on the horizon. Interestingly, sales of the Rhino 700 have picked up significantly this year after years of plunging sales. The company’s strategy appears to be to wait until all the adverse publicity over the Rhino quieted down before jumping back into the market. Now appears to be that time. Yamaha is certainly capable of being another game-changer in the market along with Honda, although it will be a long climb out of the hole, analysts say, to re-establish itself as among the UTV market leaders.
Recreational use. Sales of UTVs for recreational use jumped dramatically in 2011, climbing to nearly 31 percent of total North American UTV sales from about 22 percent in 2009 and 2010.
Regulation. The “lead” issue created by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) no longer seems to be a problem, following amendments passed last year. However, the CPSC continues to work on regulations that could severely restrict the use of off-road vehicles, including UTVs, and these rules could be introduced in 2013.
Electric vehicles. In 2011 the number of electric vehicle sales slipped below the 2010 level as consumers showed concern over battery-related issues such as speed, range and reliability. This concern amplified after a major recall by one OEM for battery and charger problems. Sales of electric UTVs climbed to 8 percent of total sales in 2010 (nearly 20,000 units) but dropped to 7 percent of total sales (19,000 units) in 2011, the lowest level in years. This segment could continue to drift, according to PPM analysts, until the issues of speed, range and battery reliability are more fully addressed. Also, some consumers seem to be waiting for hybrids under development by several major OEMs.
Hybrid vehicles. Several OEMs, including Polaris, Stealth and BRP, are developing hybrid vehicles. Don’t expect full production of hybrid UTVs for several years, however, look for several concept models from major OEMs this year. This could be the next hot product, and it could become an equally hot topic among consumers as hybrid automobiles continue to gain in popularity.
EFI. The popularity of electronic fuel-injected engines continued to grow in 2011, climbing to nearly 166,000 units, or nearly two-thirds of all gas fuel systems sold in UTVs in North America. This was a sharp rise from the 129,000 units sold in 2010 and 113,000 units in 2009.
Segmentation. The shift from industrial to consumer sales that began in 2003 continued through 2011. Last year, consumer sales accounted for nearly 80 percent of total UTV sales, up from 77 percent in 2010, about 74 percent in 2009 and 72 percent in 2008. The hottest segment is sport/recreation, with Polaris (RZR), BRP (Commander), Arctic Cat (Wildcat) and Deere (825i) competing aggressively, something PPM analysis predict will continue for some time.