By Karin Gelschus
Updates to all four OEMs’ 2010 snowmobiles make it difficult for consumers to hold off on buying the new sleds.
Some of Arctic Cat’s sleds have significant drops in weight and increases in hp, and Polaris is showing off the first snowmobile with a progressive-rate rear suspension system along with other updates. A considerable change for Ski-Doo is the expansion of the REV-X platform to the utility segment. Now 90 percent of this year’s Ski-Doo models have the technology. Focusing on the four-stroke, Yamaha released the new Vector, which has a new factor GT with fuel injection.
Much of Arctic Cat’s focus was on its performance sleds for this year. Joel Hallstrom, Arctic Cat’s snowmobile product manager, says they had the biggest changes in terms of weight loss and hp gains.
The Twin Spar chassis snowmobiles, excluding Bearcat and Touring, have a new rear tunnel design that Hallstrom says eliminated weight, improved foot traction and overall cleaned up the look of the rear end.
A new addition to the Arctic Cat brand is the Z1 Turbo EXT. Hallstrom notes it’s a 144-inch extended version of the Z1 Turbo. “This model has been asked for by our eastern U.S. and Canadian dealers as a great, go-fast crossover snowmobile,” he said.
The sleds shed considerable pounds this year. The M-Series received a new seat design that is 5 pounds lighter than the original seat, and the 570 motors now have push button engine reverse, which also eliminated 5 pounds.
The company released its new Sno Pro 500 for Junior snocross racers and Sport 85 cross country racers.
Halstrom said Arctic Cat’s main goal for this year “was to show our riders and potential Arctic Cat consumers that we own the four cornerstones to a great ride experience.” He adds the cornerstones include the world’s fastest snowmobiles, body-saving ride technology, expert-grade mountain sleds and industry leading horsepower. “We have always been known as the ‘go-fast’ guys,” Halstrom said, adding the new 800HO engine has more hp than anyone in the industry. Third-party testing with DynoTech shows 160 hp. The sled also has a new exhaust system and motor, which has a
4.3 pound lighter crank. There were changes to the piston and cylinder porting as well.
The first snowmobile with a progressive-rate rear suspension system, the 2010 600 RUSH, changed consumers’ image of Polaris, says Scott Swenson, vice president and general manager of Polaris’ snowmobile and PG&A divisions.
“We continue to be focused on providing opportunities for (the dealers) to have less risk, as well we’re continuing to develop innovative product,” he noted. “Like RUSH, we provide them with opportunities to have additional profit making.”
Polaris also is enthused about the LX models, adds Swenson. The Crossover segment includes two new high-performance luxury models, the Turbo LX and 600 LX, which both have an electric start that comes standard. The models ride on the 136 Coupled Rear Suspension. Polaris says it bridges stutter bumps to keep the ride comfortable and provides outstanding flotation off-trail.
The company is continuing to expand its utility lineup like the 600 WideTrak. “We think there’s a broader field for that,” Swenson said, “particularly in our Alaska and Canadian market.”
The 600 WideTrak IQ is the first utility sled powered by the liquid-cooled Liberty 600 HO Cleanfire2. It has the 2-up seating, wind protection, cargo space, power and a 20-inch-wide track.
The company, however, continues to aim higher. “We’re not quite where we want to be yet, so that remains our No. 1 priority,” Swenson said. “We measure quality in Polaris by the standpoint of what’s called the Net Promoter score. World Class Net Promoter scores are 75 or higher, and we’re not yet at World Class Net Promoter score.
“We remain focused on what the key consumer purchase attributes are and that’s what we intend to deliver on.”
Technological expansions have revved up Ski-Doo’s 2010 model line. Since the REV-X platform can accommodate the 550 Fan engine, it’s able to benefit entry-level models, including the MX Z, Renegade, GSX, Grand Touring and Tundra models.
Another significant factor this year is the transferring of the E-TEC from an outboard engine to snowmobile, says Roch Lambert, vice president and general manager, Ski-Doo/Sea-Doo/Evinrude division for BRP.
“You’re talking about a sled that will give you 25 mpg of fuel efficiency,” he said. “Ten miles a gallon has been the norm. Twenty-five mpg is better than most cars. So it’s been an unbelievable success, extremely well received.”
BRP is bringing back the MX Z and Summit X-RS “Racing Special” packages.
Rather than a MX Z feature package like in previous years, the Renegade is now its own model. “Renegade is now sort of a crossover,” Lambert said. “So we have more on the mountain side type of configuration and some on the trail side, but within the Renegade family now. So that’s one that we believe is going to be extremely well received, one that we’re certainly quite proud of and excited about.”
Ski-Doo also is offering special Renegade Backcountry and Backcountry X packages, which are targeted more for off-trail riding.
Also new this year is the REV-X Tundra, which features a Lynx Telescopic front suspension and a wide, flat belly pan that acts as a toboggan. For the first time, the Tundra comes with advanced features, including the SC-5M rear suspension from the Summit performance mountain machines.
Other updates include the 1200 4-TEC engine option as a base package for the Summit X and Everest packages. “We’ve implemented that in some cross country and trail sleds,” Lambert said, “which is a bit of a paradigm shift to have that four-stroke technology in those higher performance machines.”
One of Yamaha’s main goals this year was to create the “ultimate trail sled,” said Adam Sylvester, snowmobile product manager for Yamaha. The new Vector has a new factor GT with fuel injection.
“It’s the one sled you can get all the four-stroke Yamaha advantages we’re talking about it: value, reliability, resale, low emissions,” he said. “I really think our edge is that 74 percent of snowmobilers are interested in buying a four-stroke for their next sled.”
The RS Vector GT has the new Genesis 120FI engine, which Yamaha says should produce improved overall power and a 5 percent fuel economy gain while touring compared to the 2009 as well as a 6hp increase vs. the Genesis 120.
Wanting a sled to fulfill the demand for the mountain segment, Yamaha produced its Nytro MTX SE 162. Sylvester, says last year’s Nytro didn’t have some of the mountain technology some riders were looking for, like the all-air suspension and pro angle. The new Nytro MTX 162 and 153 have a new front end and a skid that was designed for improved mountain function. The FX Nytro MTX 163 is 17 pounds lighter than the 2009 FX Nytro MTX, and the 153-inch version is 21 pounds lighter.
The updates aimed to increase product value, an area Yamaha really focused on because of the tough economy. “I’m not going to buy say an appliance that’s the cheapest,” noted Sylvester. “I’m going to buy one with the most value because they (consumers) know they’re going to keep things longer.”
— Mike Davin also contributed to this article.?
Copyright 2009 Powersports Business