Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., has launched www.TruthAboutRhino.com, a website the company says was built to provide information about its Rhino Side-by-Side (SxS) vehicles, combat a recent flurry of inaccurate information and negative advertisements targeting the vehicle and encourage Rhino customers and the off-road industry to show their support for the SxS segment.
The site offers a history of the Rhino, provides safety recommendations and product specifications, highlights the awards and accolades the vehicle has received, details the March 31 Consumer Product Safety Commission repair program announcement (which many news outlets inaccurately described as a recall) and allows Rhino enthusiasts to "Rally Around the Rhino" by filling out an online form.
"We've seen a disproportionate amount of negative and inaccurate information distributed recently, so we wanted to create a place where our customers, the general public and the news media can get the real facts," says Steve Nessl, marketing manager for Yamaha's ATV & SxS Group.
Some customer and fan feedback is already posted on the site, including a video compilation from the most recent Rhino Rally in Glamis. Yamaha plans to update the site on a regular basis with more news, photos, videos, event information and comments from the public.
More than 200 lawsuits involving the Rhino are known to have been filed in various state and federal courts throughout the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has investigated more than 50 incidents involving 46 driver and passenger deaths related to the Rhino 450 and 660. More than two-thirds of the cases reported were rollovers, and many involved unbelted occupants, according to the CPSC.
"The CPSC really focused on a small group of customers who had reported incidents with the 450 and 660," Van Holmes told Dealernews in March, after the OEM announced its free repair program to install a spacer on the rear wheels as well as the removal of the rear anti-sway bar to help reduce the chance of rollover and improve vehicle handling. Holmes is the public relations manager of the ATV & SxS Department at Yamaha Motor Corp., USA.
"More than 99 percent of our customers are operating these vehicles free of any incidents," Holmes said. "And, the incidents that were looked into typically included some sort of use outside of our recommended use of the vehicle."
More than 120,000 units of the 450 and 660 model Rhinos have been distributed nationwide since their introduction in 2003. Yamaha began offering doors for the two smaller units in 2007, a few months before introduction of the Rhino 700 that came equipped with doors from the factory.
—Submitted by Guido Ebert