ATV Sales Remain Strong

With a warm winter, snowmobiles are moving slowly, retailers say

January 2012 Powersport News

By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel



Among the strongest sellers are all-terrain vehicles that seat two people side by side rather than one person behind the driver.


In recent calls to leisure-product dealerships, Baird analyst Craig Kennison said he found lean inventories of Polaris and other popular side-by-side vehicles.


It's hard to find a dealership complaining about having too many of them, according to Kennison.


They're the fastest-growing category of off-road recreational vehicles, said Chaz Rice, spokesman for BRP North America, which includes side-by-sides in its stable of recreational products and makes Evinrude outboard engines in Sturtevant.


With the mild winter, "a lot of people are hanging on to their snowmobiles and are taking them in for service rather than buying new ones," Rice said.


The off-road vehicles that seat multiple passengers are among the best sellers in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin All-Terrain Vehicle Association.


They're wider than ATVs and look something like dune buggies.


If they had the same access to public trails as snowmobiles, their sales would increase tenfold, said Rob Strauss, owner of Rob's Performance Motor Sports in Johnson Creek.


Trail access is still an issue, but maybe not for much longer.


Wisconsin All-Terrain Association has sought legislation that would open up the public trail system to light-utility vehicles.


Four years of testing have shown the heavier, wider vehicles don't harm the trails, although environmental groups might dispute that.


Some of the side-by-sides cost $20,000 and can be used for work as well as play.


Sometimes, there's sticker shock at the dealerships. But consumer credit is not the obstacle it was during the recession, according to Kennison.

"The availability of credit is good for qualified customers," he said.

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