ATV – Competition Heats Up in the UTV Market

The side by side utility terrain vehicle (UTV) segment is growing, and with it new and old players in that area are hoping to grow their marketshare.
Arctic Cat was the most recent major manufacturer to enter that segment with its Prowler XT, and the Polaris Ranger series continues to roll with some upgrades for 2006. In addition to the major manufacturer models, several other brands have come to the forefront. Here is a brief round-up of some of the newly released side by side UTVs and one that is in the works.
After a brief stint in the marketplace a few years ago and then falling by the wayside, the Pug line of “cargo” ATVs (CATV) will be making a comeback under a different manufacturer. Originally manufactured in Jackson, Miss., the Pug vehicles were acquired this past spring by Feterl Manufacturing Company of Salem, S.D., and the company has been working to bring back the UTV line.
Feterl Manufacturing is an agriculture and industrial product manufacturer whose main product lines include manufacturing grain augers and service trucks. Company officials had been looking to expand the manufacturing operations when they saw the Pug vehicles and their potential to mesh with the company's current products.
“We looked at our exising dealers and, wanting to expand our manufacturing capabilities [with] products that would fit in with those existing dealers, it looked like a nice fit,” said Jerry Nichols, vice president of sales and marketing.
While initially Feterl Manuacturing plans to target farmers and ranchers through its existing dealers, company officials plan to broaden the reach.
“We're going to target the entire spectrum,” said Feterl Manufacturing's CEO and President Randy Bauer. We also see us going into hunting, fishing and commercial aspects. We'll target all of those markets.”
The intial plans are to sell the Pug line through Feterl Manufacturing's dealers in the Midwest, Nichols said. Long term, he said they hope to be nationwide and to bring back some former Pug dealers on the East coast and elswhere.
“We have a list of over 400 dealers we currently work with,” Nichols said. “We estimate that probably 150 to 200 of those will be interested in the Pug line. That's just throughout the Midwest. We'll look at [previous Pug dealers] and give them an opportunity to get back the redesigned Pug.”
The Pug vehicles entered the market in 2000. In December 2001, the Mississippi-based company changed ownership and soon after, production of the Pug line halted. Feterl purchased the manufacturing and intellectual property rights and tooling and moved everything to its facility in Salem.
The original Pug line inlcuded the Back Forty, Badlands and Wilderness II series. While production on the Pug vehicles was scheduled to begin in August, Bauer said it has been pushed back. Thus far, plans are to release the redesigned Back Forty under a different name in October and the Wilderness II in 2006, according to Feterl Manufacturing CEO Randy Bauer.
“We've done a considerable amount of work to upgrage the unit to be comparable what the major players in the market are offering,” Bauer said. “We took the redesign two steps farther than we initally intended and went into a full blown redesign of the product to upgrade the quality We wanted to make sure we were offereing all the features and benefits that the [major manufacturers] offer.”
Bauer said when the first Pugs roll off the assembly line they'll have an updated rear suspension, four-wheel drive, a differential lock and other features.
The company hasn't set retail prices yet but they will be available soon.
Brister's Design and Manufacturing Company of Roseland, La., recently announced it is adding the Boss 390 4x4 side by side UTV to its lineup. The Boss 390 joins the Brister's Chuck Wagon 2WD series that was introduced in July 2004.
The Boss 390 is powered by a 390cc Honda four-stroke engine with an electric 4x4 selector switch. It has an automatic locking front differential, hydrauic disc brakes in front and drum brakes in the rear and a dual strut front suspension and swingarm rear.
The Boss 390 can handle up to 400 pounds in the rear cargo box and it has an 1,100-pound towing capacity. A bench seat, drink holders, underseat storage and a glove box also adorn the Boss 390.
Brister's said it's available in limited quantities for 2005 and in green only. The plans are to have a camoflauge version available in September.
In July, Brister's increased its powder coat paint system that will boost production capability by more than 50 percent.
“We had to expand to meet the demand for our utility vehicles,” company President Chuck Brister said.
Installed was a powder coat recovery system and a new curing oven. Brister said the company is working on expanding its line in 2006.
Land Pride of Salina, Kan., added the 4210 4x2 and 4410 4x4 ST series to its UTV line. The vehicles feature a 20 hp 614cc Honda air-cooled twin-cylinder four-stroke engine, an automatic locking front differential and a CVT transmission with forward, neutral, reverse and park. The gear shift lever is located on the dash, and new is the integrated parking brake function that was added to the shift lever.
The ST series also has a standard front bumper, a 950-pound rear cargo box capacity and a 1,200-pound towing capacity. The rear cargo box is ribbed and the sides can be removed. An independent A-arm MacPherson strut front suspension and independent trailing arm rear suspension soak up the bumps. A sealed torque converter shield and high-mounted engine air intake allow for crossing water. Creature comforts include a bench seat, two cup holders and a locking glove box.
The vehicles are available in red, green, yellow and camoflauge.
For the 2006 model year, Polaris is adding electronic fuel injection to two of its Ranger models. First appearing on the Ranger XP for the 2005 model year, EFI also will be available on the limited edition Ranger 4x4 EFI the Ranger 6x6 EFI for 2006. A carbureted Ranger 4x4 ($9,399) also is available.
The 4x4 EFI ($9,799) is powered by a 499cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine. An automatic CVT transmission with forward and reverse gears transfers the power. It has a cargo box payload capacity of 1,000 pounds and a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds. A MacPherson strut front suspension offers 8 inches of travel and the independent rear gives 9 inches.
The Ranger 6x6 EFI ($10,999) is powered by a 683cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder four-stroke mill. Like the 4x4 EFI, power is transferred through a PVT. A MacPherson strut front suspension and independent rear give 6.25 inches of travel. The 6x6 EFI has a cargo box payload capacity of 1,250 pounds and is rated to tow up to 1,750 pounds. Polaris says the 6x6 EFI will top out at 44 mph and has a 29 percent increase in acceleration compared to the 4x4.
Introduced in 2005 as a limited edition version, the Ranger XP ($10,399) jumps full-time into Polaris' Ranger lineup. It is powered by a 700 twin-cylinder powerplant with EFI. It's the same engine in the 6x6 EFI. Like the 2005 limited edition version, the 2006 XP comes with a driver's side lockable and water resistant underseat storage compartment, MacPherson strut front suspension with 8 inches of travel and an independent rear with 9 inches of travel. A payload up to 1,000 pounds can be hauled in the cargo box and it can tow 1,750 pounds.
Also returning is the Ranger TM ($6,499) powered by a 653cc air-cooled four-stroke V-twin. The 2WD TM has a 750-pound cargo capacity, a 1,000-pound towing capacity, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, a rear swing arm suspension with 4.3 inches of travel and a MacPherson strut front with 4.6 inches of travel.
All Polaris Rangers are equipped with the unique Lock & Ride rack system.

- Eric Skogman

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