UTVs continue to grow in popularity, and an increasing number of manufacturers have entered the UTV market in recent years. To assist you with navigating the UTV market, OPE magazine, sister publication to Landscape Business, recently turned to UTV manufacturers for their insights and advice regarding the UTV segment.

 

OPE: What trends are you seeing in the market as a whole with regard to UTV design, manufacture, marketing and sales?

 

Photo provided by American LandMaster

A lot of the UTV manufacturers are focusing heavily on the UCV market. These are more crossover UTVs that travel between 35 and 50 mph. It is a very saturated, expensive and competitive space to be in.

Our focus at American LandMaster is to stay within the pure utility market. We want to be known as the most rugged, durable, and affordable UTV in the marketplace. If you need a UTV to get the job done and be reliable, we are that UTV. If you want to go 40 mph across the fields, our UTVs aren’t for you.

We’re seeing a lot of integration and other UTV manufacturers increasing their prices drastically. Adding more bells and whistles, gauges, heated seats, thick windshields, etc. We have received feedback from customers and dealers stating that they like the simplicity of our vehicles.

We’re seeing a lot more customers owning more than one UTV as well. We have customers that may buy three or four for their farm. They may want a crew unit and then a two-wheel drive and a four-wheel drive. This is why I press the importance of having a variety of product on hand.

David Piercy, marketing director, American LandMaster

 

After digging into the utility vehicle market, it is clear that UTVs have moved from just a recreational vehicle to a work-centric product – often replacing pickup trucks on jobsites, farms and ranches. Seeing what was currently available in the market, as well as gathering extensive customer and dealer input, we wanted to build a UTV that would better serve our customers. Cat UTVs were designed to deliver a combination of durability, stability, quiet operation, comfort and maintenance simplicity. These machines are built for work – offering unique features, such as an all-steel cargo bed and a four-wheel independent suspension system, as well as proven quality and performance in vigorous, long-term testing. Additionally, no other UTVs on the market come backed by the service and support offered by the Cat dealer network. Participating UTV Cat dealers can help with anything from simple maintenance questions to accessory selection to on-site support.

Amy Vincent, product specialist, Caterpillar Inc.

 

More and more, customers want additional features on UTVs like they have in their cars, making operator comfort, ease of use and add-on features their main priorities. We’re finding that customers want accessory ports, ergonomics and style of the UTV – including bright colors, full-coverage skid plates, front grill guards, and more – over many other features.

Joel Hicks, senior product support manager, Kioti

 

Photo provided by Kubota

Market research shows consumers want a multipurpose utility vehicle that delivers rugged reliability and speed. Trends in our design enhancements have been driven by this consumer demand. We conducted extensive research to design the Sidekick as a reliable workhorse in a powerful, fun-to-drive machine.

Roger Gifford, Kubota product marketing manager, utility vehicles

 

We are seeing more brands entering the UTV market through private label agreements. This is increasing the type and number of dealers offering UTVs, as well as trying to take advantage of potential growth into non-traditional UTV markets.

Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Excel Industries (Hustler)

 

The UTV market continues to grow, both overall and in the relevant applications where MTD competes. Average MSRP in 2017 for utility vehicles was $12,750 (up 4 percent over 2016).

Consumer preferences are maturing:

  • The average retail price is increasing.
  • The average engine displacement is increasing.
  • Vehicle sizes and capacities are increasing.

Buyers are moving up in the market for:

  • More comfort and convenience
  • More power
  • More payload
  • More overall capability

Allen Talley, business segment director for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet, and Mark Krakowiak, product manager for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet

 

Photo provided by Greenworks Commercial

The competitive landscape of utility vehicles only offers the customer a lead acid battery alternative to gas units. Greenworks saw a need and desire from customers to step up to lithium-powered UTVs for general use, hunting or professional landscape needs. The Greenworks line of UTVs is quiet, powerful, and designed to do what a gas UTV would be able to do within normal driving applications. Corporate customers and homeowners like the “no gas” option of being green and the ease of battery use.

Hunters and landowners like the silent running and true 4WD capability of a UTV and not a converted golf car. Greenworks feels that the time has come for an alternative to gas, and the feedback from customers and dealers has been exciting.

Tony Marchese, commercial business group leader, Americas, Greenworks Commercial

 

Three major trends we are seeing focus on durability, capability and comfort. Durability is key, as UTVs often are put to work in rugged conditions. Understanding this, manufacturers are focused on upgrading older models with newer components, and ensuring new models are designed to withstand the harshest conditions.

Understanding every customer has different needs, it is important to provide a full line of equipment with a variety of capabilities: terrain capability, cargo capability, and passenger capability. John Deere offers a wide range of vehicles with differing speeds, power levels, cargo boxes and seating configurations.

Finally, comfort has become a top priority for customers, especially on jobsites where employee retention is critical. Manufacturers have introduced a variety of new features to boost comfort, like cabs, air conditioning and heat, which ultimately result in increased productivity.

Justin VanderHeyden, product marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles, John Deere

 

 

OPE: What changes, if any, are you seeing with regard to UTV end users and/or how UTVs and related attachments are being utilized?

 

Consumers continue to be the innovators. They are the ones that help drive manufacturers to come up with improved accessories for the vehicles. We continue to get customers and dealers sending us pictures of how they have transformed their UTVs. I love seeing this, because it gives us ideas on how to build a UTV that the customer truly wants.

At American LandMaster our goal is to continue to stay ahead of the curve, and give the customer accessories they might not have thought they needed.

David Piercy, marketing director, American LandMaster

 

Photo provided by Caterpillar

Driving ease and comfort are becoming more desirable features to end users. Electric power steering provides superior handling and tight turning capabilities. Customers can easily customize their UTVs to meet specific work needs through accessory options. Cat UTVs have more than 30 accessory options available from the manufacturer that allow the end user to customize their UTV to their specific needs. Options range from an electric dump and winch to front and rear work lights to a machine with fully enclosed cab and heat.

Amy Vincent, product specialist, Caterpillar Inc.

 

UTVs are workhorses and are typically used to pull, tow and haul. So, the most important features continue to be payload and towing capacity, ground clearance, variety in attachments and implements, operator comfort and ease of use.

That said, over the next few years, we expect to see increased input from customers asking for more options on UTVs to fit a broader range of applications. Customers are prioritizing access to critical controls and functions on ergonomically designed dashes – from operating functions to in-dash storage to USB sockets and electronic charging stations. Additionally, more aftermarket companies are beginning to develop products that are compatible with UTVs in order to meet customer demand for comfort, ease of use and accessories.

Joel Hicks, senior product support manager, Kioti

 

Consumers are really looking for year-round versatility when it comes to attachments. Kubota has a wide range of accessories and attachments to choose from, all to make work or chore maintenance more manageable – from snow removal to storage, we offer all the add-ons needed to brush, sweep, plow and so much more.

Additionally, for our diesel-driven worksite utility vehicles, a very popular option is a gear-box driven PTO and quick-attach system, which allows operators to switch from one attachment to another in a matter of seconds. Kubota offers the 4-point K-Connect system, offering the ability to put down one implement and go to the next in less than a minute, without the use of any tools. This quick-change ability really saves time on the jobsite.

Roger Gifford, Kubota product marketing manager, utility vehicles

 

Photo provided by Excel Industries (Hustler)

As growth of the UTV market is starting to soften, manufacturers are starting to offer vehicles targeted at specific market segments. We expect to continue to see the development of jobsite vehicles and task-specific accessories to target specific market segments.

Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Excel Industries (Hustler)

 

This is definitely where you can enhance your profits by providing as many accessories and attachments as possible. This is a fun category, and users really like personalizing their units. Attachment and accessory sales supplement our ability to reinvest in our new product development.

UTV purchases stimulate the customer’s passion, unlike some other outdoor power equipment, which may be more utilitarian.

Allen Talley, business segment director for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet, and Mark Krakowiak, product manager for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet

 

Greenworks will be offering a full line of attachments to allow its customer base to fully accessorize their unit to meet their needs. We know that there will be a need for winter options, so we plan to offer soft side cabs and snow plow assemblies. In addition to our standard black-and-green color scheme, we will also be offering a camo color for the sportsman customer. We expect the camo units to be used in hunting applications, so we will also be offering front utility gear racks, LED light bars, tire options, and rear hunting equipment racks. For the landscape professional, we also plan to offer Bluetooth radio options and utility boxes

Tony Marchese, commercial business group leader, Americas, Greenworks Commercial

 

Diversification continues to be a key trend, as more landscapers add new services. For jobs like snow removal, hardscaping and yard cleanup, it is important to be able to transform current equipment to be used in these applications. Attachments like salt throwers, snow plows, tool racks, and tool boxes allow utility vehicles to be used in different applications, adding value to the equipment.

Justin VanderHeyden, product marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles, John Deere

 

OPE: What is your overall outlook regarding the UTV industry?

 

The UTV industry continues to grow upward. There is huge white space across the U.S., which poses large potential still in this space. My recommendation is to make sure you do your research on UTVs, and not just follow the crowd. Know the demographic around your area, and find a UTV manufacturer that will fit those customers well. Selling one UTV at $15,000 at 5-percent margin is not that great. Selling five UTVs at $8,999 at 20-percent dealer margin makes the customer and dealer happy.

David Piercy, marketing director, American LandMaster

 

Work-centric UTVs is definitely a growing market. Often, customers are replacing ATVs and pickup trucks with new utility vehicles. UTVs combine the benefits of ATVs and pickup trucks into one easy-to-maneuver vehicle, merging the load hauling and towing capabilities you want with the lightweight off-road vehicle you need in the field. From hauling tools and people across large jobsites or trudging through muddy acres to fix a fencepost, the Cat UTV is up for any hard work.

Amy Vincent, product specialist, Caterpillar Inc.

 

Photo provided by Kioti

The UTV market is one that has continued to grow over the last five years, mainly because the product fits well within a multitude of business needs within the broader green industry and the consumer market. If you’re considering entering the market or broadening your presence in the market, it’s a great business growth opportunity.

Joel Hicks, senior product support manager, Kioti

 

As the multipurpose utility vehicle market grows, the demand for work-capable utility machines will grow in this segment. Simplicity, durability and speed will be a consumer demand, and the Kubota Sidekick is delivering on this today.

– Roger Gifford, Kubota product marketing manager, utility vehicles

 

The UTV market is starting to soften after a decade and a half of exceptional growth. Future sales will be dominated by customers who have previously owned UTVs and customers in smaller market categories.

Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Excel Industries (Hustler)

 

Our outlook is great. The market is growing year-over-year, and allows dealers to have products to sell in the off-season. It’s a business with good margins and great opportunities to cross-sell attachments and accessories.

Our advice is to:

  • Establish yourself as the expert in your area.
  • Look like you’re in the business (you can’t sell if you don’t have products on your lot).
  • Help your customers imagine what’s possible, and prominently display accessories and attachments.

Allen Talley, business segment director for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet, and Mark Krakowiak, product manager for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet

 

A recent comprehensive industry study performed on the data, statistics and trends observed in the all-electric UTV market concludes that the industry is expected to deliver substantial future growth. We believe this is the right time for the outdoor power equipment dealer to embrace this battery change and open up a new sales and profit channel for them. Their current customers are buying gas products from ATV/UTV dealers, and we think that our dealers can, and will, keep their customers by offering our new Greenworks lithium-ion line of utility vehicles.

Tony Marchese, commercial business group leader, Americas, Greenworks Commercial

 

Photo provided by John Deere

We have an optimistic look about the future of the UTV industry. The UTV market is a growing segment, and there is increased interest from our customers. As a leading manufacturer, we are committed to offering our customers innovative and durable solutions. From rolling out features to introducing new attachments, we are committed to serving our customers, and providing them with the tools they need for their daily jobs.

Justin VanderHeyden, product marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles, John Deere

 

 

OPE: Please tell us about your latest UTV offerings.

 

American LandMaster

Our 2019 UTV brings three new configurations across the entire line.

The FTX series includes a thick steel flat bed with full dump capability.

The Pro-Series includes pre-installed accessories including the new, patented TAC utility cargo rack, six tool clamps, LED light bar, winch, front receiver and front hood rack. This is an incredible value to the dealer and consumer.

Our final configuration is the Cruiser models. These models are designed to be fitted for leisure/rec consumers – perfect for cruising around the neighborhood. This vehicle comes with an upgraded seat, mirrors and our new integrated turn signal package. The turn signal package includes front turn signals, rear taillights, rear turn signal, rear cargo light and interior dome light.

In addition to the new vehicle offerings, we have two new hood colors (Fierce Blue and Magnetic Gray) and two new body paint options (Oxford Blue and Slate Gray). The body paint colors are available on select units at no additional cost.

Finally all our vehicles come standard with a top and windshield. Across the industry this averages to be a $620 value that we provide free on all our vehicles.

Our four-wheel-drive UTVs start at $7,799 and our average margin for the dealer is 20 percent across our entire line of UTVs. One of our biggest selling points is that our vehicles are built from frame to finish all in Columbia City, Ind. We’re not just assembled in the U.S., we are built from the ground up.

David Piercy, marketing director, American LandMaster

 

Caterpillar Inc.

In 2017, Caterpillar announced the introduction of its first-ever Cat utility vehicles – the gasoline-powered Cat CUV82 and diesel-powered CUV102 D. To expand that offering, the product line now includes the gasoline-powered Cat CUV85 and diesel-powered CUV105 D. The CUV85 and CUV105 D both feature a spacious second row to accommodate a total of five people. The Cat UTVs feature a rugged steel cargo bed and offer 1,000-pound total rear cargo capacity and 2,000-pound towing capacity for outstanding performance in a variety of applications. These Cat UTVs deliver a premium experience at a competitive price.

The Cat utility vehicles boast a four-wheel independent suspension system with a front sway bar to provide unmatched stability at full load. A long swing-arm suspension, custom-tuned springs and shocks deliver a balance between a smooth ride and hauling loads. Ample ground clearance ensures these vehicles navigate rough terrain with ease.

Features such as smooth acceleration, clear sightlines and engine braking capability make the Cat UTV well suited for hauling and towing. The intuitive column shifter allows the driver to easily maneuver through all the gears. All models feature a continuously variable transmission, tuned specifically for work applications, offering smooth transitions and the ability to handle loads. The choice of two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive or four-wheel drive/lock modes permits the driver to match vehicle drive to ground conditions.

Cat UTVs are built for quiet and comfortable operation all day long. The design minimizes noise and vibration during operation for a quieter ride. Driver and passenger seats are both sewn for comfort as well as durability, plus the driver’s seat position and steering wheel adjust to ensure a comfortable fit. Ample behind-the-seat storage and document holder provide space for personal items and gear. Passenger seat bases can be removed and stowed behind the rear seat back to create floor space for hauling oversized items.

Amy Vincent, product specialist, Caterpillar Inc.

 

Kioti

A fully featured, tough and reliable companion, the Kioti K9 2400 is a landowner’s best friend. The 24-hp., three-cylinder diesel engine – which makes way for ground speeds up to 31 mph – allows operators to tackle any task, on any terrain, with confidence and efficiency. The K9 2400 offers an abundance of storage, an ergonomic design and contemporary styling. It also has one of the largest all-metal beds in its class, with an impressive 1,102-pound capacity, a standard spray-in liner, and an optional hydraulic dump kit – allowing for a full range of towing and hauling capabilities. Access to critical controls and functions has never been easier with the K9 2400’s ergonomically designed dash. It comes standard with in-dash storage, as well as power and USB sockets, meeting a variety of operator needs – from housing tools to charging electronic devices. Full-coverage skid plates, a front grill guard and a contoured bench seat add to the overall look and feel, matching the K9 2400’s appearance with its powerful performance.

Joel Hicks, senior product support manager, Kioti

 

Kubota

Kubota offers a full line of utility vehicles that are ready to work, wherever your work takes you. Kubota started manufacturing utility vehicles in 2004 when we introduced the first RTV. During the last 15 years, Kubota’s utility vehicle line has evolved and expanded to include diesel, gas, general and worksite models.

Kubota has been the best-selling diesel utility vehicle manufacturer in North America since 2004, according to Power Products Marketing, North American Utility Vehicle Markets Report. Each year, Kubota RTVs set the standard for ruggedness, daily dependability, efficiency and technologically advanced performance. Each model serves a purpose for the everyday worker.

Most recently, we introduced the new Kubota Sidekick, which is where durability meets speed – up to 40 miles per hour of speed with cargo. This new model is our fastest gas-powered utility vehicle yet, and really blurs the line between work and fun, with best-in-class handling and acceleration with cargo.

Roger Gifford, Kubota product marketing manager, utility vehicles

 

Hustler

The Hustler MDV is a dedicated work vehicle designed for the professional user. The patented LeveLift Technology provides the functionality to allow one person to perform tasks that would take two or more people with other vehicles. This feature reduces stress on an employee by reducing the lifting required to load the vehicle.

This feature also crosses over into the small farm and ranch environment where there may not be multiple people or equipment available to support heavy lifting and carrying tasks required for the operation. This is mounted to a vehicle, which is easy to get in and out of and operates with an automotive feel where acceleration is smooth and controlled for operating in close environments. Every design trade-off during the MDV development was focused on making the vehicle easy to service and easy to operate. Each component in the Hustler MDV, including the Kohler diesel engine, was selected for durability to provide a vehicle that will last through years of professional service, resulting in lower overall cost of ownership.

Brad Unruh, director of new product development, Excel Industries (Hustler)

 

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet has been in the UTV business since the early 2000s with the launch of the Big Country UTV. In 2006, the next-generation Volunteer platform was introduced. After many successful years of selling the Volunteer, we are removing it from the portfolio in favor of more profitable growth categories like the mid-sized crew and full-sized platforms. We are nearing the launch of the mid-sized crew later this year, and are contemplating entry with full-sized crew units in the near future. Entry into this category will require a more powerful V-twin or three-cylinder engine in order to compete in the full-sized space.

Our latest entrants are the newly designed MX 550 and MX 750 EPS mid-sized two-seaters. These units come fully accessorized with improved noise and vibration quality for an enhanced user experience. Other design elements have been introduced in order to improve overall quality and performance and increase user enjoyment.

Allen Talley, business segment director for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet, and Mark Krakowiak, product manager for utility vehicles, Cub Cadet

 

Greenworks Commercial

Greenworks is very excited to launch the first true lithium-ion line of commercial utility vehicles. The new Greenworks CU 500 and the CU 800 are the first two models to be offered within this new model lineup. They both carry the commercial 13.8Kwh battery from our commercial zero turns that is tested and certified to meet UL approval. The Greenworks CU 500 is the base unit with CU 800 being larger and offering more ground clearance. Both units have 1,500 pounds of towing capability and 500 pounds of cargo bed capacity, and a two-year bumper-to-bumper and a three-year battery warranty. The range of these UTVs is an impressive 81 miles with a top speed of 30 mph. Each of the family includes a dual A-arm front and rear suspension system with 2WD/4WD capability with direct-drive motor to transaxle with low noise transmissions.

Tony Marchese, commercial business group leader, Americas, Greenworks Commercial

 

John Deere

The John Deere Gator utility vehicles were designed to tackle a wide range of jobs. With a lineup of 19 models across three categories – Work, Crossover and High-performance – there is a solution for any application.

Two of the latest additions to the line are the XUV835 and XUV865 models. Boasting 54 hp. and 23 hp., respectively, the gas-powered XUV835 and diesel-powered XUV865 models feature a quiet cab, three-wide seating, improved ergonomics and available heating and air conditioning, ideal for operators working in a variety of weather conditions.

Justin VanderHeyden, product marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles, John Deere

 

 

[Editor’s note: Responses were presented in the order in which they were received.]

Top photo provided by Cub Cadet