Suzuki makes change on ATV utility brand – October 16, 2006
October 16, 2006
Filed under Features
LAS VEGAS — Suzuki’s recently unveiled 2007 KingQuad 450, with its fuel injection and ability to offer two- and four-wheel drive at a touch of a handlebar button, is the wave of the future for the company — in more ways than one.
Suzuki officials announced at its annual dealer and new product show in Las Vegas that the company’s utility ATV lines, currently including KingQuad, Eiger, Vinson and Ozark, will slowly transform into a single line of models carrying the KingQuad model name.
“When we reintroduced the KingQuad in 2005, we were constantly looking for a new name,” said Rod Lopusnak, Suzuki’s ATV operations manager. “And the more we went out and did focus groups on names and surveyed our dealers and customers, they’re like, ‘You had the best name. Bring the KingQuad back.’ So we did that.”
Suzuki will over time convert its Eiger, Vinson and Ozark models into KingQuads when those particular ATVs undergo a significant update or feature change. Lopusnak said Suzuki won’t just make a cosmetic change and slap a new name sticker on the ATV.
When these significant changes are made and the Eiger, Vinson or Ozark models are converted into KingQuads, the vehicles will feature common styling. They won’t all look the same, Lopusnak said, but “they’ll definitely have key characteristics where you’ll say, ‘Oh that’s a KingQuad.’”
The idea of having just one model name associated to a particular vehicle segment is not new to Suzuki. The company made the same move with the Boulevard cruiser line in June of 2004. Then, Suzuki had four models associated with its cruiser line.
The reason for the cruiser switch — and the current one with the ATV utility line — is the belief that a single model name will result in a stronger and more effective marketing and advertising push.
“We’re communicating a mixed message now,” Lopusnak said of the company’s efforts to market four ATV?utility model names. “We’re trying to tell people four different things.
“We’ve proven it with Boulevard that if we concentrate and just push one name, we’ll make a much, much (bigger) impression.”
For now, Lopusnak said Suzuki will continue to market the Eiger, Vinson and Ozark lines as well as look at updating those models and converting them into KingQuads. “As this family grows, we’re going to put more and more dollars, more and more emphasis on KingQuad the brand,” he said.
Besides announcing the future KingQuad brand emphasis, Suzuki also revealed the newest member of the KingQuad family, the 450 4x4. The ATV features fuel injection, something the company says is unique to its class, and several shared components with the KingQuad 700. One of those shared components is the placement of the engine cylinder, which is pitched forward 48 degrees. That, Suzuki points out, allows the ATV to keep a low center of gravity for better handling on the trail.
The KingQuad 450 also features an automatic transmission, full floorboards, a built-in winch mounting area and a front, water-resistant storage compartment. The 450 comes in three colors, Tarra Green, Flame Red and Solid Black. MSRP is $6,499 and $6,799 for Camo and the new quads are expected to be shipped to dealers in mid-November.
What the KingQuad doesn’t have, nor any of Suzuki’s ATVs, is power steering, a feature that Yamaha and Honda unveiled this year.
“We’ve been testing it for some time at the factory,” Lopusnak said of power steering. “So we’re definitely looking at that,” but there’s no current timetable as to when those could be on Suzuki ATVs.