UTV sales fuel growing aftermarket for creature comforts

Publish Date: 
Jul 25, 2012
By Dennis Johnson


THERE'S NO DOUBT that the four-wheeler market has been turbulent. Everything from the MIC’s quarterly and annual sales reports to research by Power Products Marketing to the monthly Product Mix report from ADP Lightspeed indicate that quad sales is going through a rough patch. But the UTV (or side-by-side) market is growing while sales of sport and utility ATVs continue to drop. UTV remains healthy as evidenced by the state of its aftermarket. As consumers make the shift to side-by-sides, aftermarket manufacturers increase their product offerings to meet the demand of buyers who want their quad fully loaded.

Dealernews asked a number of specialists from the four-wheeler aftermarket about the changes, current trends and what the future holds. This month’s roundtable includes:
Fred Brayton, sales and marketing manager for Pro Armor
Dan Fitch, brand manager for Moose/Parts Unlimited
Brice Ginn, sales manager for DragonFire Racing
James Kramer, director of Tucker Rocky’s ATV segment and brand manager for QuadBoss
Jim Webber, sales manager at Kolpin Powersports

Dealernews: How has the four-wheeler market changed over the last three to five years?
Ginn: The four-wheeler market has changed a lot over the last few years primarily due to the growing popularity of UTVs. There are many factors attributing to this change, but one of the most evident to me is the overall versatility of these SxS vehicles. Regardless of where or how you ride, they can get it done in more ways than one. The best part is having the ability to take your friends and family along with to enjoy the ride.

Kramer: In the last three to five years we’ve seen more focus on repair and replacement parts as new-unit sales have struggled and consumers are keeping their quads longer. We’ve also seen the continued migration to more UTV unit sales in the market and the explosion of the aftermarket sales for UTV accessories.

Brayton: It is rather frustrating to see the OEMs all but pull out of the sport quad market. I think we all were excited when Yamaha released the Raptor and the [other] 450s came out, but over the past three years they have been nonexistent with model upgrades and supporting both the amateur and pro racers. We have seen our focus change over the past few years due to these changes. I do believe it is cyclical, but it is always rough to see the lack of support after they came out with some really capable machines. I am glad to see Can-Am still putting back into the sport [market].

We are still spending R&D hours on new products for the sport quads and will continue to do so. We continue to support racing through the racers and several events.

How has the SxS market changed your business?
Fitch: Moose has always offered product for the side-by-sides, but the market has changed from heavily modified units with high-performance parts and suspension to being sold with tops, front and rear windscreens, and other basic upgrades to be used on trails or in the desert for family use.

Brayton: The SxS customer is very passionate about the off-road industry, specifically their vehicle. With the growing popularity of this segment we have added quite a few new products to our line. We make doors for most of the vehicles. We also make harnesses that are universal and fit pretty much every application. We also offer suspension seats. We now offer cages for the RZR and the XP900. We also offer bolt-on accessories.

Ginn: DragonFire has always been focused solely on the SxS market since the Yamaha Rhino first came out. Overall, our business has had to change as the market matures in order to compliment how the manufacturers are building their production units as compared to years past. Essentially we have had to transition our product mix in some respects in order to keep our finger on the pulse of where the market is at and where it is going.

Kramer: The side-by-side market has added an entirely new dimension to our business. We started with a small amount of accessories for the Rhino eight years ago, and now have a complete offering of parts and accessories for every major brand of UTV. The excitement surrounding the growing UTV market has created additional traffic in dealerships and to our QuadBoss website, and increased traffic is good for the industry as a whole.