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Expanding side-by-side offering – July 24, 2006

July 24, 2006
Filed under Features

Bobcat, traditionally a business-to-business company, is offering its dealer network a way to capitalize on the side-by-side buying frenzy. They introduced the 2100 2×4 utility vehicle four years ago, the 2200 4×4 UTV two years ago and offered the new 2300 4×4 in June.
The 20-hp 2300 has many of the same features as the 2200, including the Intellitrak drive system, which sends power to the wheels automatically when the vehicle is on rough terrain.
The new Bobcat features the RapidLink attachment system, which is on the front end of the vehicle. It is this application that Bobcat officials hope will break through its image as a company for construction vehicles and launch Bobcats to hobby farms, building and grounds maintenance, construction and personal use.
The push for utility vehicles came from the 550 Bobcat dealers in the United States, said Brad Claus, Bobcat’s utility vehicle manager. “We got feedback from the dealers, saying, ‘We could sell a utility vehicle.’ ”
The 2300’s RapidLink system allows users to put attachments on the front of the vehicle by driving up to the attachment, positioning a shovel-shaped blade on the front of the UTV and mating it with a shovel-shaped receiver on the attachment. The hydraulic lift — controlled by a joystick in the cab’s center console — moves the arm up slightly and then the operator flips a lever that moves two pins that seal the attachment to the vehicle.
“It’s simple and straightforward,” Clause said. “It’s easy for the novice to use.”
The RapidLink supports five attachments: a snow blade, a bucket, a broom, a forklift and a lawn mower. The mower sports an independent gas engine on top of the cutting unit.
The arm will lift two feet, “high enough to drop material,” Claus said. The angle of the snow blade or the broom can be adjusted manually, but the rest of the functions are handled by a simple joystick in the cab.
While the vehicle is 58 inches wide, the attachments are 60 inches wide.
Bobcat, which is manufactured in Augusta, Ga., is looking to branch out into other markets, said Kathryn Helgaas, the company’s marketing manager. “We know that customers will justify buying the Bobcat for work but will use it for play,” she said. That’s why the 2300 comes in a camo package as well. In fact, designers had a camo package ready to go but noticed they hadn’t removed the standard Bobcat orange wheels. Camo-colored wheels were added later.
Helges said the UTV is not meant to compete with Bobcat’s skid steers. “The 2300 just adds versatility to the utility line,” she said.
While the 2300’s frame is made of aluminum, the RapidLink system and attachments are made of steel, which can hold up to 500 pounds. The rear box has a hydraulic lift and an 800-pound capacity. There is a two-inch receiver hitch on the back of the vehicle. Cab amenities include tilt steering, adjustable drivers seat and glove box storage.
The 2300 (MSRP: $1,590) is powered by a 20 hp Briggs and Stratton engine with a top speed of 25 mph. psb

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