Big changes for the Arctic Cat brand
Like most of you, we were surprised by the announcement that Arctic Cat was acquired by Textron, Inc. over the winter. The news meant a much-needed infusion of funding for the Cat company, and a whole new level of market share for Textron. Good news for both companies. But what does it mean for the consumer? That news seems to be pretty good, too. Recently, Textron held a meeting of select dealers and press near Dallas, Texas, to let…
The Cat Out of the Bag
For the ATV and UTV side of life, The Arctic Cat brands are being folded into the Textron Off Road banner. This means that going forward, with new model introductions from here, Wildcats will now be Textron Off Road Wildcats. The same goes for Prowlers and Altera ATVs. This rebranding will take place over the next six-plus months.
With this, there comes news of a couple new entries. The Wildcat XX, which we’ve all been hearing about. The big question has been, when is it coming out? Textron Specialized Vehicles Vice President John Collins said that they are taking their time.
“With this being the first Wildcat vehicle launched under the Textron Off Road badge, we want to get it right,” he said. “We’re saying spring of 2018, and we want to over-deliver on our promises to our customers on how well the XX will perform.”
The XX will have a 998cc three-cylinder engine putting out at least 125 horsepower. They are boasting 17.5 inches of race-inspired suspension travel from King shocks. Collins said that the suspension will not have the most wheel travel in the pure sport category, but the suspension action will be the best in the industry. Current Wildcats do have a reputation for outstanding suspension action. The XX will also feature 30-inch tires riding on 14-inch custom KMC wheels. It will also have full doors and a race-inspired ROPS system. Like you, we’re eager to get our hands on this beast.
But you notice we said a couple of new entries. Before the acquisition of Arctic Cat, Textron was already working on a follow-up to the Stampede. Collins was somewhat tight-lipped about the new machine that will be fully unveiled this fall, but it looks to take on the Polaris General head on. It will have “over 100 horsepower,” Collins said. The new ride will share the addition of King shocks, long wheel travel and features that will carve out a new spot in the recreational category. It will share the extended cab feature of the Stampede. Look for more information on this new ride as it becomes available.
Why the Name Change?
This was a question on everyone’s mind. We all knew the original Bad Boy Buggies from the electric UTV market. Last year, Textron announced the change to Bad Boy Off-Road with the release of the Stampede. Why change so soon? The reason, according to Textron Specialized Vehicles President and CEO Kevin Holleran, is strength. Textron’s other businesses include Cessna airplanes, Bell Helicopters and more. They produce many of the vehicles that carry our soldiers into battle with the Osprey and more. They are planning to tell the story of the company to consumers, and position the Textron Off Road brand as one of strength. It makes sense.
And it’s not just an association with military might that positions the company as a strong brand. Textron spent significant capital investing in becoming a leader in the powersports industry. Adding Arctic Cat, making advancements and rebranding under that banner certainly helps.
What Becomes of Arctic Cat?
For this model year, not much changes for AC. The ATVs and UTVs they currently make will still be AC models available through Cat dealerships. The snowmobile line will remain the same, under the Arctic Cat banner. They are transitioning the dirt products to Textron to capitalize on the story they are telling with that brand, and to hopefully expand the reach of those machines in southern areas, where dealerships are fewer apart thanks to the lack of winter. A dealership in Alabama has no need for snowmobiles on the sales floor, so that dealer might have less of a reason to carry the Arctic Cat brand. Again, it all makes sense when looking at the big picture.
Textron will gradually combine Arctic Cat and Textron Off Road’s side-by-side and ATV product lines under the Textron Off Road brand, with the first products being rebranded this summer at model-year change for 2018, and other products following over the course of the next year. The transition will be complete at the introduction of model year 2019. There will be some consolidation. For instance, on the ATV side the Textron Off Road Onslaught will be phased out.