While predictions for the forthcoming riding season are not as upbeat for motorcycle dealers as many were hoping at this point in the year, there is one positive segment, however, and that has been SxS/UTVs.
Motorcycle sales have been relatively stagnant over the last few years with the numbers hovering around 500,000 units per year, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. Before the economy took a nose-dive in 2008, motorcycle sales saw a peak of more than 1 million units, and UTV sales were barely on the radar at the time.
Today, the roles have almost reversed with UTVs selling more than 300,000 units per year alone.
MPN columnist Seth Woolf, a research analyst who covers powersports for Northcoast Research Partners, says that the ORV market has been showing positive signs lately. “UTV demand was the strongest we have seen in quarters.” Even with the unfavorable weather in early spring, he says people are “feeling upbeat” about the market. And more crucially, the bad weather was not enough to slow down demand for these vehicles.
NADA says that the powersports industry was mixed in the first quarter, but UTV values were “solid.”
The sport segment brought higher values on average than any time in the past four years, according to NADA. The utility segment was not quite as strong but holding steady. Higher depreciation is something NADA says dealers will want to keep an eye on for the rest of the year.
On the accessory side, the aftermarket is starting to pay more attention to UTVs. Some traditional motorcycle aftermarket companies are moving into the segment to offer accessories for UTVs. With the current iteration of sport side-by-sides boosting the horsepower through the use of turbos, the need for stronger parts and performance work has increased exponentially. SxS customers are willing to spend money on accessories because the whole family can ride together.
Ron Seidner of Bert’s Mega Mall told SEMA News that more and more customers want a customized SxS and they are driving their sales. He says that some of these custom creations are very simple add-ons, while others are much more involved. Keeping the purchase and installation in-house has added to the bottom line for this dealer and can work for others, too.