Polaris has highlighted a seismic market shift from ATVs to substitutional vehicles such as Polaris ACE and side x sides as one of the key catalysts in it posting the biggest year by any brand in the history of the Australian off-road vehicle market in 2017.
Polaris credits a combination of utility and safety technology as one of the key factors in the outstanding
growth of its side x side business, which led the growth charge for Polaris in 2017. Its Ranger line-up offers industry-leading features and capabilities which are relevant to Australian farmers combined with safety technology such as certified ROPS, Speed Key, seat belt interlock, side nets and 4-Wheel Descent Control.
“With a side x side, you get outstanding capabilities and utility to get hard work done quicker and easier than ever before,” said Polaris Australia and New Zealand Vice President & Managing Director, Peter Alexander. “When you combine this with the great safety technology now on offer, it’s no surprise customers are voting with their wallets and flocking to side x side products in droves.”
While the ATV market was down 12 percent in 2017 versus 2016 – including an 11 percent contraction in sales of agricultural-specific ATVs – the side x side market boomed to post a record 8,295 sales in 2017, 28 percent up on the previous year. Utility side x sides led the way with 7,527 sales or 30 percent growth over 2016.
Side x sides now account for a staggering 37 percent of the Australian off-road vehicle market, a far cry from just five years ago when this figure was less than 10 percent (9.9 percent in 2012), or 10 years ago when side x sides accounted for only three percent of the total off-road vehicle market (in 2007).
In 2007, only 651 side x sides were sold in Australia. In 2017, this number was 8,295. That’s an astronomical 10-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29 percent. The clear market leader in side x sides, Polaris has been the major driving force behind this growth, selling 3,611 side x sides in 2017 versus 373 in 2007 – representing a 10-year CAGR of 25 percent. Impressively, Polaris as one single brand has accounted for 3,238 units or 42 percent of the total 7,644 unit side x side market growth since 2007. Polaris’ dominance is probably no surprise to many, given their industry-leading range of 23 models with ROPS.
By comparison, over the same 10-year period that side x side sales have posted a 10-year CAGR of 29 percent, ATV sales have plummeted from 19,101 in 2007 to 14,389 in 2017 – a 10-year CAGR of minus 3 percent.
Polaris also offers the unique Polaris ACE - a single-seat, ROPS-equipped vehicle – which posted 52 percent sales growth in its own right in 2017 versus the previous year and clearly out-sold most competitor ATV models.
Back in March 2017, Polaris made headlines when it released a statement claiming that “ATV sales could be practically non-existent within five years”. And the US brand maintains that ATVs are likely to go the same way as the Tasmanian Tiger with current market trends indicating that side x side sales are likely to exceed ATV sales within the next two years and that ATV sales will drop to a negligible level in the not-too-distant future. This point was highlighted in Polaris’ recent submission to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s Quad Bike Safety Investigation. In fact, you can view Polaris’ trend analysis for the respective ATV and side x side markets as included in its ACCC submission below:
“Safety-conscious consumers are making the rational and sensible decision to simply trade their ATV in for a side x side with engineered and certified Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS), rather than entertaining notions which make unfounded claims regarding safety such as retrofitting so-called crush protection contraptions to the back of an ATV,” Alexander said.
“If the market felt it had a problem with ATV safety, then the market is fixing its own problem through the logical action of simply purchasing a side x side or Polaris ACE with engineered roll over protection instead.”
In its recent response to the questions posed in the ACCC’s Quad Bike Safety Issues Paper, Polaris highlighted that there was little point in redesigning or retrofitting ATVs to be more like a side x side or Polaris ACE when these substitutional vehicles are freely available and have the desired protection and handling features.
“For around two decades, regulators, industry and other stakeholders have argued around in circles, spent millions of dollars and wasted huge amounts of time considering so-called Crush Protection Devices (CPDs). Yet still there is no resolution and no evidence of their net efficacy or even their safety. Polaris does not support retrofitting of ATVs with so-called Crush Protection Devices (CPDs) as Polaris ATVs have never been designed to accept a so-called CPD, nor have these so-called CPDs been shown to be effective (or even safe) when fitted to any type of Polaris ATV (quad bike) ridden by an unrestrained rider,” Polaris said in its submission to the ACCC.
At the same time, Polaris was quick to applaud and congratulate WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork New South Wales, both of whom have implemented safety rebates for customers to transition from an ATV to a side x side or Polaris ACE – a good chunk of change with rebates set at $1,200 and $1,000 respectively. On top of this, Polaris has itself supported this initiative and the transition from ATVs to side x sides by funding its own minimum trade in program for old ATVs to run alongside the government rebates.
“I’m sure it’s no co-incidence that the side x side market growth in the two states (Victoria & New South Wales) which offer government safety rebates to transition from an ATV to a side x side have outpaced even the frenetic growth of the national side x side market,” Alexander said.
“The safety rebates in Victoria & New South Wales are a great example of the positive impact a proactive government can have – this initiative can take a substantial amount of credit for the rapid substitution we are seeing from ATVs to side x sides.”
Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) is a global powersports leader that has been fueling the passion of riders, workers and outdoor enthusiasts for more than 60 years. With annual 2016 sales of $4.5 billion, Polaris’ innovative, high-quality product line-up includes the RANGER®, RZR® and Polaris GENERAL™ side-by-side off-road vehicles; the Sportsman® and Polaris ACE® all-terrain off-road vehicles; Indian Motorcycle® midsize and heavyweight motorcycles; Slingshot®moto-roadsters; and Polaris RMK®, INDY®, Switchback® and RUSH® snowmobiles. Polaris enhances the riding experience with parts, garments and accessories, along with a growing aftermarket portfolio, including Transamerican Auto Parts. Polaris’ presence in adjacent markets globally include military and commercial off-road vehicles, quadricycles, and electric vehicles. Proudly headquartered in Minnesota, Polaris serves more than 100 countries across the globe.