Data supplied to Powersports Business by Polk shows in the graphic above that Texas had 4,487 new side-by-sides registered with the state’s motor vehicle department in the first quarter of 2013, more than any state in the country.
California residents registered a distant 1,649 side-by-sides in Q1, followed by Arizona (1,260 new UTVs registered), Louisiana (1,181) and Kentucky (936). Texas has approximately 150 side-by-side dealers across all brands, with California closer to 110, according to Powersports Business data.
Similarly by region, the Southeast dominated with 9,683 UTVs registered in Q1, according to Polk data. The Southwest followed with 4,712, and the Midwest had 3,646 side-by-side registered.
Here’s a look at how some randomly selected side-by-side dealers in Texas describe the rising tide of side-by-side sales in their neck of the woods.
El Campo Cycle Center
Location: El Campo
James Shoeneberg, owner
UTV brands: Polaris, Honda
UTV sales are about like they were last year, maybe a little better. Last year was the best year we ever had in history. Why are UTVs selling so well? Oil fields number one, crops number two. We had the best cotton crop yield anywhere in the United States last year. Most of the crops and cattle got good money here last year. Both did real well last year, so we had a good year. We sold 254 [Polaris] Rangers in the last 12 months. Polaris UTVs anyway, we call them all Rangers. We sell one Honda for every 50 Rangers. With that new model called the Pioneer, that’s probably going to do better. I have people come in, they want a Honda, they ride it, they ride the Polaris and they say, “How do you sell the Honda?” We don’t like them to ride the Polaris first. How are they using them? Ag, hunting and pipelines. Rec sales? Very little. RZRs, we probably sell one out of 10 as RZRs. It’s primarily utility. There’s some, there’s not many places to ride in Texas. First powersports purchase? No, most of them are going from ATVs to UTVs. How are ATV sales? This last month, we’re selling more ATVs than UTVs but that’s just the time of year, farmers are buying them to use in the field. Expect UTV sales boom to continue? I don’t see it slowing down much. It’s probably going to keep going. The more people see them, the more people want them, the more people ride them, the more people buy them. Polaris is making a good machine. Stay stable or growth? I can’t grow much faster. It’s at least stable, and stable is just fine with me. In 2010 we did $3.5 million in overall dealership revenue, in 2011 we did $4.5 million, in 2012 we did $6.1 million. The first four months of this year are ahead of last year. Last month was off about $20,000, but we’re so far ahead of last year this year. Motorcycles have been way down, but Rangers are doing well. We’re also selling trailers, generators and pumps. The nice thing about the UTV market is the accessory market that goes with it. We’re doing like an average of probably $3,000 a unit in accessories. Do you pre-accessorize before putting them on the floor? Most of the time. I have a $32,000 Ranger out there right now — it’s got tracks, electric windows, it’s loaded. What accessories do you usually sell? Mostly what we’re selling is winches, roofs, windshields and seats. More than half of them come with different tires.
Mike Morgan, sales manager
UTV brands: Kawasaki, Bennche, CF Moto
We don’t sell as many as some of the guys that are more out in the country. Compared to ’12? It’s a little better. Uses? Just out playing, trail riding and camping. We sell the Kawasaki Mule. Those guys are usually using them for hunting or working. New buyers to powersports? I’d say it’s 50/50. Previously owned ATVs? Yeah. The ATV sales are down drastically. Do you think that’s going to continue? Man, I don’t know. My crystal ball’s not working real good right now. ATV sales are way, way off and they have been for a while. What models are selling? We sell a lot of Mules. We’re starting to sell more of the Teryx4. We actually do quite a bit of business with the Bennches. They’ve done fairly well. I’m surprised how many we’ve sold. Accessories? Yeah, generally. The Bennches have all the little bells and whistles on them from the factory, so we don’t sell a lot for them, but the Mules and the Teryx, we sell more stuff for those. Do you expect UTV sales to keep increasing? I hope so. Anything else? They’re definitely up and ATVs are definitely down.
Honda & Yamaha Greenville
John Rodriguez, general manager
UTV brands: Yamahas right now. No Big Reds? Not yet. We were never a franchised dealer for them.
How are 2013 side-by-side sales so far? I’m sold out of Yamahas and can’t get any from surrounding dealers or through Yamaha. Common problem? No this is the last year of the Yamaha Rhino, they’re not going to build anymore for ’13. They’re coming out with a product called the Viking. Thoughts on Viking? It’s a pretty awesome machine. I was able to go to the show in Las Vegas and I drove it and had some fun with that thing. It’s definitely a nice machine. We drove it side-by-side next to a Polaris [Ranger] 800. They are different machines, but in overall handling I thought the Viking excelled. How’s the cockpit? Yeah it’s pretty comfortable. I’m a larger guy. We had two guys. The first time I got on it I was a passenger on it, and the second time I drove it and for room in the driver’s seat I didn’t have any issues with it at all. How were UTV sales in 2012? Pretty good. We’ve always been a fairly decent Yamaha Rhino dealer, so we haven’t really had any issues selling them. I’ve always had at least four of them on site. I turn them pretty often. What are they using their UTVs for? Most of them are for play. We have a few farmers; our area here is mostly a rural area. Greenville’s only got about 26,000 people living in Greenville proper. We have a lot of farmers and ranchers in the area. People who are new to powersports? It’s a good spread. I’d say it’s a pretty even spread. A lot of the farmers that bought Hondas from us, as far as ATVs are concerned. I used to sell eight Hondas for every Yamaha that I sold. Now I’m about 8 to 4 or 8 to 5. UTV sales have been pretty steady. Between the two, our Yamaha brand has really grown stronger in the area. Even the farmers and ranchers are starting to be more open to the Yamaha product in general. Adding accessories? Most of the side-by-sides that I sold exceeded the MSRP by several thousand dollars, because of the accessories — wheels, tops, all kinds of stuff like that on there. Yes, it helps out quite a bit on the bottom line. Sometimes we have to be creative as far as selling the actual unit, because people are price shopping. They can go anywhere and buy one. Expect good UTV sales to continue or increase? I think with the new product that both Honda and Yamaha are coming out with, the Pioneer from Honda, is going to bring a four-seater to the table, it’s going to bring an added plan of attack to gain more sales that way. But I really do think the Viking coming out is going to really be a cool product for us. I think we’re going to do really well with that product.
Woods Fun Center
Shane Talbert, general manager
UTV brands: Polaris, Kawasaki and Yamaha
How are UTVs selling so far ’13? Very well, we’re very fortunate. We’re in a good market and it is incredible the explosion in UTV sales across the state. I think a lot of it has to do with the big city areas, you have these branches that are being broken up into five- and 10-acre plots and everybody’s got to have a side-by-side for their five or 10 acres. How’s the first half of this year been? Very good. We are definitely up. I couldn’t give you an exact number off the top of my head, but especially with the Polaris lineup, we are up significantly. Models in particular? The [Ranger] Crews are definitely the most popular for multi-passenger seating. What are they using them for? The bulk of it is going to be for light-duty work and touring the property. Are they new to powersports? Majority of them are not new. Switching over from ATVs? Absolutely. That’s definitely a big shift. ATV sales dropped? I wouldn’t say they’ve taken a dive. They’re definitely down a few points, nothing really dramatic, but definitely taken a little bit of a hit with the popularity of side-by-sides. Accessories? Absolutely. That’s a great part of the business. Most of our side-by-sides, we accessorize before they come up to the front of the house, before they hit the showroom. What stuff? Just the basics, a roof and a half windshield. From time to time we might have something that’s not what the customer really wanted to see on the machine, but the manufacturers have done such a good job of making these so easily interchangeable it’s not a big hassle. Expect UTV sales to keep increasing? Absolutely, especially in the central Texas area with the influx of people that we have in this area, I think it will be a healthy segment of our business for some time to come. You’ll never run out of things to do (in Austin). It’s a great place to live. Selling sport units? We do our fair share. It’s definitely not the bulk of it, but we do pretty well with the RZRs, the Mavericks and the Commanders. They do all right. How’s Teryx model line? They’ve actually done pretty well.
Hal Burke, store manager
UTV brands: Polaris, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha
Just acquired Kawasaki and Yamaha within the last few months. Thoughts on Viking? It’s a very cool product. How are ’13 UTV sales? Remaining very, very strong. It’s been predominantly the side-by-side over the ATV. ATV customers moving to UTVs? Right, yup. Is that increasing? I see that a lot of the ATV buyers are looking at the side-by-side, especially a lot of the recreational riders because they see it as something they can do as a family or at least a couple instead of having to throw a leg over a seat you can just jump in and rid. It makes it a little more fun, get more people involved in it. As far as the ATV market goes, you still have a lot of the ATVs being sold, as a matter fact in our particular market, we’ve seen an increase. The Hondas have held their own with almost 50 percent of the market share, we’ve seen an increase in both Polaris and Kawasaki. What’s behind increasing ATV and UTV sales? After the last few years anything is good. I think what you’re seeing is people replacing their old machines, finally, and those that are still using them for what they originally bought the ATVs for are replacing them with the same ATVs. If they’re working them or using them on a hunting lease or something, I think your biggest swap from the ATV to the side-by-side is in that recreational market. How were UTV sales in ’12? We really thought it was a good year, but again we just had Polaris and Honda at that time. Polaris was very strong for us, and Honda with the one model it was a tough year for them, but we sold quite a few of the Polaris both RZRs and the Rangers. More utility than sport? Well we’ll sell more of the utility just because they have so many more choices out there and I think what you’re going to see in the near future if I’m reading what the signals coming from Polaris are, the RZR market which is the sport utility is going to be more of a branch off. In the past it seemed like RZRs were kind of seasonal for us when the recreational riding would pick up we’d sell more of them and then when hunting season came around it was like a faucet somebody would turn off. This past year, we’ve sold the RZRs even through hunting season, the wintertime and on into summer. Do you think a new RZR is coming? I think you’re probably dead on in that. You’ll see something like that, to me it seems like that’s kind of a segment that Polaris is into that not very many other brands are into. Of all of your models, what’s the most popular? For us I think it would be the Ranger Crew. It’s one that a lot of people can justify spending the money on because it hauls more than just a couple of people and we’re close enough to the beach, they use them down here on the beach, they use them up at the lake, they can use them in the neighborhoods and things like that. They put a roof on them, a little radio system in them, tool around, it’s really become one of the more popular vehicles in the lineup. I would say it’s a toss-up between that and the Ranger 800, which can be used for hunting, sporting around and utility work at the house, whatever they need. Adding accessories? Absolutely, I would say the vast majority of them here in Texas. If you don’t at least put a roof on that thing, because where we’re at we’re talking about at least two out of three days it’s going to rain a little bit somewhere, and then of course the sun, so at least a roof at a windshield or half-shield for sure. And then a lot of people, the ones taking them for recreational use are going with the custom wheels and tires, the radios, you know, the whole nine yards. Guess of average spend on accessories? If I had to guess I’d think you’d spend an average of probably $1,500. Expect things to continue going well for UTV sales? I know at some point it’s going to have to level off, but I couldn’t tell you when that point’s going to be. I hope it doesn’t come.