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Sales of Larger, More Expensive ATVs on the Upswing

LTHOUGH IT IS A TROUBLING TIME for new ATV sales, larger and more expensive models have been weathering the storm and providing stability to the market. Sales of side-by-sides, special edition models, 2-up machines and big bore ATVs have all shown healthy gains recently.

Arctic Cat has seen increased sales of its big bore ATVs with displacements of 650cc and greater. According to Arctic Cat marketing and communications manager John Tranby, the models are popular with older and more affluent customers who have not been affected by the slowing economy.

Although 500cc machines represent the best-selling displacement category in the industry, the big bore segment (600cc and above) is only about 20 percent smaller, while side-by-side sales are estimated to be over 100,000 units annually.

"Big bore sales have definitely been a bright spot for us," says Steve Nessl, Yamaha marketing manager for the ATV and side-by-side group. "Despite the economic reasons behind the turn, and the industry-wide reasons, we're still moving along and doing fairly well."

Reggie Poe, sales manager of Hillbilly Cycle Sales in West Virginia, attributes strong big bore sales at his store to the demanding local terrain and the increasing popularity of the class. "If it's 500cc or bigger, it sells a lot better than anything else," he said.

According to Poe, big bore customers spend more on accessories and modifications, including wheels, tires, winches and exhaust systems. "The guys who normally come in looking for the smaller ATV', or just mid-size...are more your hunters and farmers looking for something that's a piece of equipment for them," he says. "The guys looking for the big bores are jacking them up and putting [big wheels and tires] on them, some bling-bling, and are going out in the middle of a mud hole. It's a different attitude."

Limited edition models, with expensive painted plastic and cast wheels, have been another industry bright spot. "It's an odd thing...when you're talking about a somewhat depressed industry," says Nessl. "The most expensive ones are selling well while the price-point friendly [units] are sitting on the floors a little longer than they should."

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