UTVs (Side-by-Sides) forge new revenue streams

Publish Date: 
Aug 1, 2007
By Guido Ebert

The ATV market is in a downturn after nearly a decade of consistent growth. Or is it? Perhaps it's a matter of type. Some say sales haven't been lost but instead redirected to other, underreported areas of the all-terrain vehicle market — namely, small-displacement Chinese imports (see our special section elsewhere in this issue) and larger utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs).

UTVs, often referred to as side-by-side vehicles (SSVs), are designed to offer more capacity for utility use than a standard ATV. By design, a UTV is heavier than an ATV, slower than an ATV, and is configured for a rider who opts for more creature comforts in his or her powersports vehicle. It's a recipe that seems to be working.

While manufacturers such as Honda and BRP have yet to retail SSVs, and Suzuki scuttled the idea after a single season, Arctic Cat, Kawasaki, Polaris and Yamaha are reaping the fruits of this increasingly popular off-road product.

In this special report, you'll find new research suggesting as much as 10 percent of annual ATV sales are lost to SSV sales, and what the leading SSV suppliers think about the future of this market. Yamaha, for example, plans to end the year with a 5 percent drop in ATV sales but a 30 percent gain in Rhino SSV sales. Polaris CEO Tom Tiller says he expects ATV shipments to be down but SSV shipments to experience strong double-digit growth. Arctic Cat CEO Chris Twomey says he believes the SSV market will grow 15 percent to 20 percent. Finally, you'll read about Yamaha's legal troubles with its Rhino, and take a look at some other SSV brands finding traction in this burgeoning market.

How are your SSV sales going? Send your comments to editors@dealernews.com.