UTVs a growing trend at Lawn & Garden Expo
Louisville event draws several powersports players
Run simultaneously in one central location at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America are two annual trade shows that offer the latest in outdoor power equipment and products for landscapes, hardscapes, light construction, gardens and outdoor leisure.
Although attendees at the Louisville event are apt to see more zero-turn mowers, trimmers and excavators than powersports vehicles, it’s interesting to note the crossover in exhibiting suppliers and their target customers, as well as the growth in the number of UTVs on display over the past few years.
UTV suppliers attending GIE+EXPO this year included Bad Boy Buggies/E-Z-GO/Cushman, Bobcat, BV Powersports, Cub Cadet, Deere, JCB, Kubota, Sunright International and Polaris.
The 2013 event marked Polaris’ first time displaying at GIE. Interestingly, despite their annual appearance with small engines and generators, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha continue to pass on the opportunity to showcase their UTVs to the general contractors, lawn and landscape professionals, golf course superintendents and equipment managers, and municipal and institutional purchasers in attendance.
Consumer, Prosumer and Commercial
UTVs can be segregated by three user segments: consumer, prosumer and commercial applications. While the fast-growing consumer segment of the UTV market has garnered many of the headlines over the past few years, it is the more utility-oriented prosumer and commercial segments of the UTV market that together remain responsible for the lion’s share of sales.
Approximately 323,000 UTVs were retailed in North America in 2012, according to Power Products Marketing (PPM), a market research firm based in Eden Prairie, Minn. PPM found consumer models (for example: Polaris RZR XP900) accounted for around 35 percent of total sales; Prosumer models (example: Deere XUV825i) garnered around 55 percent share, and commercial models (example: Bobcat Toolcat) were responsible for about 5 percent of sales.
Looking at those numbers, it’s easy to understand why Yamaha and Honda positioned their latest offerings — the Viking and Pioneer — as prosumer models.
On the other hand, while Polaris already leads overall UTV market share with top-selling consumer (RZR) and prosumer (Ranger) models, the Minnesota-based company continues to battle Deere and Kubota for lead market share in the much smaller commercial segment, and is using the Brutus line as a direct salvo across the bow of the competition.
Deere, Polaris and Kubota lead the commercial segment of the North American UTV market. Here’s a closer look at what each of these companies offered their hard-working clientele at the GIE+EXPO.
Deere offers 22 UTV models. Long a supplier of commercial-oriented Gator work vehicles, the company completely changed its emphasis in the UTV market in 2010 when it introduced new and improved XUV series prosumer models: the 625i, 855D and 825i.
Then, in 2012, the company went a step further into the consumer market with the RSX 850i that was intended to capitalize on the growing recreational segment by satisfying Deere consumers specifically asking for a more sporting product.
New for 2013 are the diesel-powered XUV 855D S4 ($14,999) and gas-powered XUV 825i S4 ($14,199) — both four-door prosumer models. The 855D features an 854cc Yanmar engine developing 23 hp for a 30 mph top speed; the 825i features an 812cc Chery three-cylinder engine developing 50 hp and a top speed of 44 mph. Both models offer a back seat that lifts up for additional seating and folds down to convert into extra cargo space.
On display indoors at the GIE+EXPO were the standard Gator XUV 855D ($12,599) and Gator TX (both outfitted with a full array of lawn maintenance equipment); outdoors, visitors were able to experience the 625i ($10,499) and 825i ($11,799).
Kubota is a leading manufacturer of compact tractors with an estimated one-third share of the North American market, well ahead of second place Deere, and is looking to capitalize on its compact tractor and mower products customer base to generate sales of UTVs. In fact, the majority of Kubota’s sales go to the commercial segment, utilized by contractors, municipalities, etc.
Kubota in early October unveiled three new diesel-powered RTV-X UTV models — the RTV-X900 ($13,345), RTV-X1120D ($15,981) and RTV-X1100C ($20,833) — to augment its returning RTV400Ci ($8,499), RTV500 ($9,475) and RTV1140CPX ($16,470) models.
The company showcased the three-model RTV-X line indoors and outdoors at the GIE+EXPO. The RTV-X900 is equipped with a 21.6 hp Kubota D902 three-cylinder diesel engine, while the RTV-X1120D and RTV-X1100C are powered by a 24.8 hp Kubota D1105 three-cylinder diesel. All three feature Kubota’s exclusive Variable Hydro Transmission (VHT-X), standard four-wheel drive, are available in Kubota Orange and Realtree AP Camo, and are offered with a wealth of optional accessories.
The three-model commercial-oriented Brutus UTV line — Brutus ($15,199), Brutus HD ($17,999) and Brutus HDPTO ($23,999) — was the star of Polaris’ display at the 2013 GIE+EXPO, complimented by the new Ranger 570 EFI.
Polaris began shipments of the Brutus line in April, and it is now offered by approximately 400 retailers.
Ranger models represented about 58 percent of Polaris’ UTV sales in 2012, with commercial buyers responsible for a large number of those sales, according to research firm PPM.
“While the commercial portion of the market hasn’t always been the focus of our company, it has become more of a focus primarily because we’ve already sold so many vehicles into that space,” said Aaron Stegemann, business development manager for ORV and Adjacent Markets at Polaris.
Powered by a 24 hp Yanmar diesel engine mated to a hydrostatic transmission, the Brutus line represents Polaris’ first true commercial vehicle line, specifically engineered for work duty by combining in-house expertise in ride quality and durability with Bobcat’s experience in hydrostatic transmissions, attachments and integrated joystick controls.
Other UTV suppliers at the GIE+EXPO included three Textron-owned brands: Bad Boy Buggies, Cushman and E-Z-Go. In addition, the show included Bobcat, Cub Cadet with its four-model Volunteer line, JCB with its Workmax supplied by China’s Linhai, BV Powersports and its Taurus 400 made by Linhai, and Sunright International and its Bighorn 40 by Linhai.