The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Polaris Industries Inc., of Medina, Minnesota, (Polaris) has agreed to pay a $27.25 million civil penalty. The penalty settles charges that Polaris failed to immediately report to CPSC that models of RZR and Ranger recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs) contained defects that could create a substantial product hazard or that the ROVs created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.

Polaris RZRs

Polaris manufactured and distributed approximately 133,000 model year 2013-2016 RZR 900 and model year 2014-2016 RZR 1000 ROVs (RZRs). CPSC staff charged that Polaris received information that the RZRs could catch fire while consumers were driving, posing fire and burn hazards to drivers and passengers. Despite having this information that reasonably supported the conclusion that the RZRs contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury of death, Polaris failed to immediately notify CPSC of the defect or risk posed by the ROVs, as required by federal law. By the time Polaris did report the defect or risk, it had received reports of 150 fires, including one that resulted in the death of a 15-year old passenger, 11 reports of burn injuries, and a fire that consumed ten acres of land.

Polaris Rangers

Between December 2013 and July 2016, Polaris received 36 reports of fires associated with its model year 2014 Rangers, and made two design changes to the Rangers to prevent the heat shields from becoming loose and falling off. Polaris manufactured and distributed approximately 93,500 model year 2014-2015 Ranger XP 900, XP 900 EPS and CREW 900 off-road vehicles. CPSC staff charged that the Rangers contained a defect which could create a substantial product hazard or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death because the heat shield could fall off the vehicle, posing fire and burn hazards.

Polaris reported the fires on model year 2014 Rangers to CPSC in July 2016 and announced a recall of 42,500 model year 2014 ROVs in September 2016.

After the recall, Polaris received reports of heat shields coming loose or falling off of the model year 2015 Ranger, including reports of fires. Polaris failed to immediately notify CPSC of the defect or risk posed by the model year 2015 ROVs, as required by federal law. By the time Polaris did report, it had received ten reports of heat shield incidents, including five reports of fires. Subsequently, CPSC and Polaris announced a recall of 51,000 ROVs in April 2017.

In addition to resolving the charged violations relating to the RZRs and Rangers, CPSC agreed not to seek civil penalties from Polaris for any failure to report a hazard or defect in a model year vehicle that Polaris had reported to staff by June 29, 2017. Polaris further agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act and a related system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure timely reporting in the future.

Polaris’ settlement of this matter does not constitute an admission of CPSC staff’s charges.

The penalty agreement has been accepted provisionally by the Commission by a 4 to 0 vote.

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