Hoping to manage expectations that have run amok, BRP officials recently re-confirmed the company’s Can-Am division will launch a UTV, but says the actual product won’t be in dealerships until calendar year 2010.
At a recent launch for its Can-Am ATV products in Texas, ATV Marketing Director Bernard Guy said a first prototype of a Can-Am side-by-side was produced in May at the company’s prototype shop, and confirmed a full engineering team has now been assigned to the project. But there’s still a lot of testing and refinement ahead of the vehicle before it’s shipped.
Guy wouldn’t give any details or specs on what BRP’s working on, but he did confirm the product will fit in with the brand’s performance-based mantra.
“It will be a Can-Am in every way, that’s all I can tell you,” Guy said with a knowing grin, while reinforcing the fact that BRP has positioned its Can-Am off-road brand as a performance brand for hard-core enthusiasts.
Details and photos of the product might be announced sometime late in 2009, but actual production won’t begin until 2010, Guy says.
Rumors that BRP would enter the side-by-side market have swirled for some time. BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli legitimized the rumors in an interview with Powersports Business last December when he confirmed for the first time that BRP was developing a side-by-side vehicle. He said development of the Spyder three-wheeler delayed the side-by-side development slightly, but said a side-by-side was in the works.
“It’s not a question of money. It’s a question of resources,” Boisjoli said at the time. “We have to decide where to invest the resources, and we decided to invest in the Can-Am roadster before the side-by-side business. But it will come…one day, we’ll have a side-by-side. That’s clear.”
Boisjoli’s announcement even caught BRP insiders off-guard, as they were in the “no comment” mode whenever asked about the side-by-side rumors.
Since Boisjoli’s comment, many dealers, consumers, enthusiast media members and aftermarket performance shop personnel have been asking questions and looking around corners expecting to see a Can-Am side-by-side.
It got to the point, one BRP official say, that the company couldn’t hold a media event, a dealer meeting or set up a big consumer display without rampant speculation that the Can-Am side-by-side was about to be unveiled. That is what led to Guy’s announcement in Texas.
Guy said a small “advanced product team” has been working behind the scenes on concept vehicles for about a year, and had built an initial model about a year ago, but only recently did Can-Am assign a full engineering team to the project and produce the first official prototype.
Also in Texas, Can-Am unveiled its 4x4 ATV lineup for 2009, which included a more powerful 800-class engine in its Outlander and Renegade models.
The new Rotax engine, dubbed the 800R, features a hotter cam, larger air filter, larger intake tract and revised ECU and EFI calibrations, resulting in a 9 percent increase in top-end horsepower over last year’s 800 H.O. BRP’s Chaz Rice says the new 800 kicks out 67 hp. Company engineers also smoothed out the power delivery at low end, taking away some of the violent hit at engagement to make the machine more trail friendly.
BRP also put a new front fascia on Outlander 800R models for a more angular look and increased airflow to the radiator, and added new graphics throughout its lineup.
Information on Can-Am’s sport quad lineup will be released in August. psb