Can-Am’s Maverick X3 takes shape over three years
More than three years ago, BRP employees were given a hefty task — create from scratch a super sport side-by-side that is superior to the product already on the market.
In mid-August, dealers and consumers saw the results of that pursuit — the Maverick X3, which has 154 horsepower and a 102-inch wheelbase. The flagship model also offers a 72-inch width and 24 inches of rear suspension travel.
The final result impressed BRP president and CEO José Boisjoli, dealers and consumers alike, but getting to the production model took an extensive amount of work.
“Our teams traveled the world to better understand the consumer behavior, what they wanted,” Marc Lacroix, BRP director of Global Product Management, told Powersports Business. “We had teams go to Glamis, to key riding areas in the southeastern U.S. We had a team spend some quality time in the Middle East interviewing stakeholders, riding, observing. We wanted to make sure that with this white sheet of paper that we would create the new benchmark in the sport side-by-side category.”
Alexei Mikhailov, a Can-Am powersports designer, sent media an early concept rendering of the X3 in September, and Can-Am shared details about the design process. Hundreds of renderings can be drawn up before a team chooses its favorite. Multiple teams then pitch their concepts in the hopes of being chosen for the project. The chosen team then goes through multiple stages, from 2-D sketch to 3-D clay models to CAD and finally a full-size 3-D clay model.
The design team and engineering team then work hand-in-hand to create the vehicle.
Can-Am aimed for the sport side-by-side market because of its aggressive growth in a segment with competition from few OEMs, when compared to the utility UTV segment.
“It’s a category that’s growing rapidly. It’s a category that has very big appeal,” Lacroix said. “For the entire side-by-side industry, it creates a certain aura for side-by-sides. It’s a category where we see some interesting migration patterns. We see people coming from dirt bikes, ATVs, trophy trucks, sandrails — all migrating to this new, very vibrant side-by-side category. And we wanted to be a leader in all performance aspects in the sport side-by-side.”
Because so many consumers are coming to side-by-sides from trophy trucks and sandrails, BRP staff members carefully studied that market to see what inspiration they could draw from those vehicles.
“To do this ‘white sheet of paper’ approach, we had to aim higher. We didn’t look at side-by-sides, but we aimed higher. We aimed trophy truck higher, and we looked technologies that were dominant in trophy trucks, sandrails, dune buggies, and this is why you see the big trailing arm used, the leading 24 inches of rear suspension on some models,” Lacroix explained.
The X3 is Born
With this research and development process, Can-Am created a side-by-side that’s truly unlike any other on the market. The 102-inch wheelbase is 12 inches longer than the closest competitor. The Maverick X3 has a low seating position with an Ergo-Lok cockpit. The chassis is ultra light and fully welded.
A turbocharged and intercooled inline 900cc Rotax ACE engine powers the X3 to produce 154 hp at 7,500 rpms and 113 foot-pounds of torque at 7,000 rpms. The X3 can hit 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds.
The flagship Maverick X3 X rs boasts an industry-leading 24-inches of travel and a 72-inch width.
When developing the X3, Can-Am focused on three key words — defiant, precise and powerful. Defiant, Lacroix explained, was used to describe the design.
“This is the new hero Can-Am off-road vehicle. This is a sign of design themes to come,” he said. “This is a very bold statement we’re making in the industry with the look: the lower center of gravity, the driver position is much lower in the vehicle, the low roll cage that’s profiled and welded. That first visual statement that you get from the Maverick X3 defies anything out there. And that’s what we wanted to do — be aggressive and bolder.”
Precise refers to the suspension and handling characteristics. “We looked at trailing arms. We brought in the best suspension travel available. We worked with the leaders in the industry like Fox to give us their top-shelf best suspension. We gave this thing the longest wheelbase in the industry at 102 inches. We also wanted to specialize it, so this is why we were bold enough to do a 72-inch version. We knew in the dunes and desert that would be very well-received in certain markets where you can go that wide, so we created that version,” Lacroix reported.
Finally, powerful refers to the turbocharged engine. “We know it’s an aggressive fight on the horsepower front, and we wanted to lead the charge. And that’s why we launched with 154 horsepower with a brilliantly engineered engine from Rotax, the 900cc triple with the turbo and intercooler,” he added.
Of course, Can-Am was also mindful that the sport side-by-side market extends beyond dunes and desert riding, so the base X3 and the X3 X ds are 64 inches wide.
“The hero version of this side-by-side, the epitome market has to be sand dunes and desert, but we also knew that we had to make a great trail version of this. We were starting from a very solid platform, and it was clear from the beginning that we’d have a 72-inch-wide version and a 64-inch-wide version. And the X ds model is great all-arounder for the trail, so it’s a lot of the benefits of the big boy, but calibrated in size for trails,” Lacroix said.
While at Club BRP in Orlando in August, Lacroix talked to a number of dealers who were pleased with the look and the performance of the Maverick X3.
Dealers also appreciated that production of the vehicle started Aug. 22, and units were shipped to dealerships the week of Sept. 5. Because of the low profile and the welded cage, the X3 can be shipped in a crate, and the crates can be stacked at a dealership. However, PDI takes only an hour, as it involves only a center piece installed ono the top cage, the addition of fluids and traditional tire and battery prep.
“Within an hour, that unit could be in the consumer’s hands, and that’s a huge game changer for dealers,” Lacroix said.
While one Texas dealer told Powersports Business that the MSRP, starting at $22,999 for the base unit and running up to $26,899 for the X rs in Gold and Can-Am Red, would be a little high for his market, Lacroix reported most dealers were pleased with the price.
“There were certain leaks just before our dealer meeting. People were assuming this was going to be in the $30,000 mark because of the specs they had heard. And as we’re explaining the product — 24 inches (of suspension), 154 horsepower, welded cage — people said, ‘Wow, great, but this thing must be pretty expensive.’ And what really surprised everyone was it’s $2,000 less than the closest competitor. It’s starting at $22,999. That was a big shocker and a delight for our dealers,” Lacroix said.
Marketing for the Maverick X3 began before the unit was even unveiled, as teasers were launched starting July 28. But now the earnest effort begins to attract buyers to the new side-by-side.
Lacroix said the key demographic for the X3 is men in their mid-40s looking for an exhilarating adrenaline rush. Most will be migrating from ATVs or replacing another side-by-side, he said.
To market to these individuals, Can-Am has launched a marketing campaign that the brand wants to be bold.
“It’s very, very focused on lifestyle, extreme, really well representing the client, and that was a culture shock, even for us to go much more aggressive, bold in our imagery and marketing,” Lacroix said.
Rally car driver Ken Block and trophy truck racer BJ Baldwin talked about the unit at Club BRP, and a video of the two racing in each other in Maverick X3s will be released in late September.
Can-Am also plans to be aggressive at key sport side-by-side events, such as the Sand Sports Super Show and events at the riding dunes in Glamis, California. Dealers will be using dedicated visuals for their X3 displays, with some even wrapping their windows in X3 visuals.
“We want to make a very, very bold statement as we launch this vehicle at the perfect timing, as the key season is coming up in the Southwest and places like the Middle East,” Lacroix said.
After soaking in the dealer and consumer reaction for two weeks following Club BRP, Lacroix remarked, “We’re coming out of this club very energized, very positive. I can’t comment on volume today, but I can tell you it far exceeds our expectations, so everyone at BRP is very proud of this launch. Our dealers are delighted, and we’re on a roll.”