PowersportsStory by Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko

Sure, any off-roader appreciates a dusty, muddy, tough-terrain-filled weekend with the indestructible Wrangler or feisty Samurai. But there’s more than one way to boost excitement and satisfy an adventurous spirit. The powersports industry – comprised of ATVs, side-by-side vehicles (SSV), motorcycles, powerboats, personal watercraft (PWC), and snowmobiles – has cultivated a devoted group of recreational enthusiasts. Guarantee an adrenaline-pumping experience and they’re guaranteed to attend, from leading the pack on Moab trail runs and backwoods exploration, to dominating Best in the Dirt (BITD), Mint 400, and UTV World Championship.


State of the Market

 Clearly, the market has evolved tremendously from just two wheels in the dirt, as supported by the significant year-over-year, double-digit growth in SSV sales. Four wheelers became all the craze during the ’90s, with global unit sales hitting 800,000 – 1,000,000 and ATVs enjoying unstoppable success. That is until “SSVs eclipsed the booming ATV market around 2008-2009,” said Nick Adamy, Director of Sales at WARN Industries.

Nowadays, four-wheeler sales in North America alone are estimated between 750,000 – 800,000+ units. Categories of UTV multi-purpose, UTV work, and UTV sport account for the top three segments within powersports. And those figures don’t include models designated as club cars or industrial vehicles, which gives you an idea of just how much this industry has multiplied in a couple of decades; it seems like the sky is the limit. “SSVs are more versatile, from rural/farm transportation, general exploration, and hunting to hitting your favourite sand dunes,” added Adamy.

PowersportsUndeniably, currency rate pressures as well as a decrease in oil and gas drilling have impacted the powersports business in Canada, a market closely linked to discretionary spending. But for Québec-based company BRP Inc. – a respected brand with a 70-year tradition of excellence and whose portfolio includes big names like Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft, Can-Am on- and off-road vehicles, Evinrude and Rotax marine propulsion systems, as well as Rotax engines for karts, motorcycles, and recreational aircraft – it was a surprisingly profitable year in challenging economic circumstances.

A recent news release published by Market Watch reported a revenue increase of nine percent year-over-year. BRP’s North American retail sales are up 12 percent, mainly driven by SSV and snowmobile units. And the company added 70 new dealers to its North American powersports network, 55 to its Evinrude dealer network and 13 outboard supply agreements with boat manufacturers.

“We have completed a record quarter and a record year in difficult market conditions,” said José Boisjoli, president and CEO. “The fourth quarter has always been the busiest of the year, in terms of sales and shipments, and our execution was flawless,” said Boisjoli. “We are seeing great momentum with the retail sales of Can-Am Defender and Maverick X3 side-by-side vehicles and Sea-Doo watercraft, which have contributed to this year’s great results. And while the Can-Am Maverick X3 model was only recently introduced to the market, the consumer and dealer response has been extremely positive,” he continued.

PowersportsWith average ATV/SSV new unit sales ranging in price from $10,000 – $30,000+, the whole gang can jump in, gear up, and come along for a relatively inexpensive family adventure. That price tag is especially attractive when considering the cost of a late-model stock Jeep® or even a vintage Disco II in need of mechanical love or overdue upgrades. And consumers certainly have the power of choice—Yamaha, Honda, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Suzuki, and Can-Am are tried-and-true brands. Despite the explosive growth of SSV sales across North America, specifically in the States, there remains a high demand for less expensive ATVs across the Great White North. In fact, due to load capacity and ample storage space, “the Hisun Motors’ 2-up ATVs have been called the best ATVs of their type for the price by many dealers who sell competing brands,” according to Powersports Business.

Furthermore, 2016 data suggests not only does the overall number of four-wheeler units sold continue to rise, but so does the cost per unit and the number of accessories at the point of purchase – especially as it applies to SSVs. Such healthy growth has enticed new lenders to enter the market, thus giving buyers access to better and more varied financing options, including extended terms. Now, that spankin’ new toy might cost you $299 a month, with zero percent down, a super-low interest rate for the life of the loan, and likely cool free gear and apparel.

Dealership spring stocking typically begins late fall, with summertime presenting an occasional lull in sales. Why? Anyone who planned to be ripping around in motorized madness during the few months of agreeable weather conditions up north got a jump start on the purchase way back when. If you have some extra money burning a hole in your pocket and don’t mind having a shorter season of use before winter storage (if you aren’t one for a white wonderland), then now is the time to pull the trigger.

Categories: Features, Off-Road Plus