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Dealers ramped up for Wildcat production

Liz Hochstedler, Associate Editor
November 28, 2011
Filed under Features

Showrooms nationwide prepare for side-by-side’s release

Most Arctic Cat dealers first laid their eyes on the Wildcat early this year at the company’s dealer meeting in Nashville, Tenn. It was a secret meant to be kept, but as most secrets go in this technological era, the “Cat” was out of the bag before most dealers even traveled home.

Despite few details being released initially and in the first public announcement about the Wildcat made a couple of weeks after the dealer meeting, riders, the media, dealers and industry members have been buzzing about it since. And that excitement has led many to their local Arctic Cat dealers’ doors.

“The first couple weeks after it was announced, there were a lot of inquiries,” said Tom Rowland, owner of Thomas Sno Sports in Ogilvie, Minn.

Though some of the initial exuberance has died down, dealers expect to see more traffic once the models are in their stores, which could be very soon.

“Because of the number of customer inquiries that we’ve had so far and the customer interest that has been shown, I think people are going to want to come in and see it, test drive it and eventually purchase it,” said Eddie Miers, comptroller and chief financial officer for Action Motorsports, which has three locations in Texas. Two of his stores — in Ennis and Athens — will be selling the Wildcat.

The latest entry into the sport side-by-side segment already has dealers talking about the buzz being created by the Wildcat. One dealer in Minnesota placed an order for 10.

As dealers take their turns riding the machine, their excitement for selling it is growing.

Tom Fucili, co-owner of Copper State Cycles in Wickenburg, Ariz., had the opportunity to test drive the Wildcat during a dealer event in Barstow, Calif., and he called the ride “mind-bending.”

“It takes a lot to impress me, and I was amazed,” he said. “The suspension is off the charts; it’s unreal.”

Rowland and all of his employees have each had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Wildcat, and he says the handling is better than he expected.

“I thought it was the best riding off-road vehicle I had ever been on,” he said. “I have not been exposed to a lot of super performance machines like this one is, but it is so far advanced to the utility Prowlers we have. I didn’t think an off-road machine could ride that well.”

Rowland usually sells a lot of Arctic Cat’s Prowlers, but he expects the Wildcat to be a welcome addition in his area. He has already ordered 10 units, Arctic Cat officials reported.

“I’m excited to see it added to our lineup. I don’t know here in Central Minnesota if it will quite be the biggest selling side-by-side in our lineup here, but we’re certainly going to sell a few the first year. There’s certainly interest in that,” he reported.

Arctic Cat’s hopes of becoming more dominant in the West are already moving toward fruition.

“It’s a sporty unit with a lot of speed and power, and we have a lot of customers that like to go to the mud runs, and they like to dominate when they’re there,” Miers said. “We’ve got some customers that bring them other places where there’s really hilly country. They’re going to have the power they want to climb the hills and the rough terrain.”

Fucili said his customers will be riding their Wildcats in the Arizona dunes, running alongside Polaris RZRs.

“I’m excited to see the first legitimate machine to dethrone the RZR, and I’ll be selling it, so that makes it better,” he said. Later, he added, “In our store, the Wildcat will be the only sport side-by-side. Polaris, to their credit, certainly created a new market with the RZR, and now we will have something to really compete in that market.”

All three dealers have begun taking customer orders for the Wildcat, though their models may not start arriving until December and most won’t arrive until early next year.

Fucili said despite having received some pre-orders, he expects sales to really pick up once he has a demo unit on the floor.

“Some people are hesitant,” he said. “You get the dedicated early adopters, but some people won’t lay down their money until they’ve seen it and touched it and rode it.”

And even if customers aren’t willing to lay down $16,599 for the Wildcat, at least the machine has created enough excitement that it will encourage more customers to walk through the door.

“Even for people that may not be into a sport side-by-side, it has created so much buzz that it will create floor traffic and potentially give us the opportunity to sell something else,” Fucili said.

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