Owning the market, and aiming for more of it
Addition of YFZ450R gives Yamaha four 2014 SE sport quad models
Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A.’s dedication to the sport quad market in a less-than-invigorating economy chalked up another victory in early March when the company unveiled a new Special Edition YFZ450R, completing a 2014 model lineup that includes four SE sport ATVs with enhanced color schemes and graphics: the Black and Crimson YFZ450R joins existing models Midnight Blue Raptor 700R, Metallic Grey/White Raptor 700R and a Crimson Red and Black YFZ450R.
The 449cc YFZs include a GYTR front grab bar while the bigger Raptors get GYTR front grab bars and GYTR heel guards. Each 2014 SE model is being assembled at Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America (YMMC) in Newnan, Ga., for worldwide distribution.
With the sport quad market slowly inching its way back to positive year-over-year growth trends, Yamaha figures to be sitting pretty in the market while the U.S. economy rights itself.
“The sport quad market had a rough time with the economy,” said Travis Hollins, product planning manager for Yamaha’s ATV and side-by-side categories. “We’re just trying to kickstart it as much as we can and give guys a little bit different take [with the 2014 SE lineup]. The sport guys have always been a little more unique. They don’t want what everybody else has. They want something a little flashier — the tribal patterns, the dark blacks with reds and the aggressive image. So we’re playing into that market and giving them more of what they’re looking for.”
The new 2014 Black and Crimson Red YFZ450R SE and the Crimson Red and Black color combination both have an MSRP of $8,949. As the first YFZ model year to be produced in Newnan, the new production home has been an asset for the 2014 lineup.
“We want to always keep the YFZ as that pinnacle, top-of-the-line, nobody-can-really-touch-it sport machine, so we add things to it that are functional vs. cosmetic,” Hollins said. “The team in Newnan can definitely respond to the market for us and make some real good improvements.”
Meanwhile, the Raptor 700R SE is powered by its 686cc, four stroke, liquid-cooled engine with quick-revving capabilities. The Raptor’s powerplant features a forged lightweight piston and aluminum cylinder with ceramic composite coating, which provides reduced weight, increased cooling ability and additional wear resistance. Roller rocker arms reduce friction in the valve train, allowing the engine to rev more freely leading to better overall performance and improved throttle response.
The all-new 2014 Midnight Blue and Metallic Grey/White Raptor 700R SE are currently available with an MSRP of $8,799.
An OEM unveiling sport ATVs for MY2014 is certainly an anomaly. And that’s just fine with Yamaha officials.
“So much of the sport ATV market is tied to the economy,” Hollins said. “We’re seeing the housing market improving and getting better, new housing starts are picking up. I don’t think it’s going to be huge growth, but we’re seeing things stabilize and working their way back into the right direction. We’re definitely optimistic about it.”
As such, Yamaha has long said that when the economy turns, the company will be well-positioned in the sport quad market. “That’s what we’re seeing,” Hollins said. “It’s a positive trend.”
The sport quad market is unabashedly owned by Yamaha, with Powersports Business data showing Yamaha securing about 50 percent of the sport ATV market. Nessl says that’s a function of a variety of things.
“Not only with what we’re doing as far as moving production to Newnan, but also how well the units perform and how they’re purpose-pointed for the end user,” he said. “It’s not a market that we’re going to be relinquishing anytime soon, regardless of the ebbs and flows of the sport ATV market. Guys aren’t leaving the sport, and it’s looking like they’re a little more willing to part with their discretionary income than maybe they were in the past, so we’re hopeful, for sure.”
Dealers have heard Nessl say for years that the continual improvement of Yamaha’s sport quad lineup — which saw retail sales increase in 2013 compared to 2012 — will be fruitful as the economy strengthens.
“And that’s not lip service,” Nessl said. “We want them to be in the best possible position. When better times come, and they will, we want the dealers to be the ones looking pretty. I like our position. The sport ATV market loves our stuff, so it’s not a bad spot to be in.”