Q&A: Dave Longren, Polaris Industries
Dave Longren – Vice President, Off-Road Vehicles and Chief Technical Officer, Polaris Industries
When Polaris Industries added the Brutus commercial UTV to its off-road lineup of Ranger, RZR and Sportman last month, it was the latest in an impressive lineup of off-road vehicles from the Minnesota-based OEM. In fact, Polaris dominates the ATV and UTV segment to the tune of being 2.5 times bigger than its next competitor, and is bigger than its next three competitors combined in that segment. Powersports Business editor in chief Dave McMahon recently got an up-close look at the Brutus, and tried his hand at maneuvering a variety of attachments, including the snow blower, pallet lifter and scooper. He learned more about the Brutus launch from Dave Longren, vice president of Off-Road Vehicles and chief technical officer at Polaris. Longren joined Polaris in 2003 as director of engineering for the ATV division.
Polaris already offers utility vehicles well suited for work and play than anyone in the industry. What made the company decide the Brutus was a needed vehicle?
“We’re very strong at understanding who the customers are, as well as looking for opportunities and creating new segments. It’s not about going out into a market share fight. We’re not going to get into a competitive fight on price. We don’t do that. We go in and understand the customer needs and the customer value proposition and how to grow categories. That’s how we’ve been successful with our brands.
After using the Brutus, it’s easy to see that it’s user-friendly and would be a fairly pleasant tool for your day of work. What goes into determining that a product like this would be a good idea?
“We use what I call application engineering as a core competency. We listen to what people say, figure out the real problem and then figure out how to solve that problem. We’re very good at combining our ideas into very cost-effective solutions. We can develop a vehicle right now in about half the time that any competitor can develop a vehicle. Competitive advantage is one of the things that has driven us to this product.
How much does the mechanical PTO set the Brutus apart from other vehicles?
“It’s a game-changing capability. Having a mechanical PTO with separate control systems on it to be able to do all the work capability — no one’s been able to do that before. It will set the standard in terms of the work capability that utility vehicles can really provide.
How important was the relationship with Bobcat in seeing this product come to life?
“It was really important with Bobcat, from the beginning. They have certain skills — whether it’s part of their hydrostatic transmission and some of their attachment capability skills — that we didn’t have within Polaris. We understand vehicles and how to build vehicles.
How much of a role did the design of other recent Ranger models affect the Brutus design?
“It goes right along with the fit, finish and capability descriptions that we learned about when we developed the Ranger that we introduced last year. While that was being designed and developed, we transferred some of that knowledge back over to this vehicle, so we were co-developing two vehicles simultaneously.