By Motorhead Mark Lester
Arctic Cat has unquestionably pulled the lid off a boiling pot everyone else missed. It’s called the Mud Pro 700 EFI and we won’t mix any words here. The idea of building an out-of-the-box chocolate ride is genius.
It makes us wonder how everyone else missed the opportunity to be first to build a lifted, mud tired, geared down, snorkeled factory mud ride.
We’re entirely impressed with the Mud Pro’s execution. Arctic Cat has grafted some top aftermarket mud running accessories onto the Mud Pro at the factory. Don’t get us wrong here, this is not a toy for the faint of heart nor is this an ATV suited for every kind of riding condition.
The Mud Pro is strictly purpose-built for running deep mud and emerging unscathed. Don’t expect it to suit fire road trail riding or family picnic tours. We’re intrigued by the response we get everywhere we ride the “Pro”.
Arriving on it is like showing up in a Corvette, nude. People regularly approach us and want to know what the Mud Pro is all about.
Its killer metallic paint contributes to the eye candy effect while its superb 27-inch wheels and monster-truck ground clearance produce an imposing, if not somewhat overpowering, visual impact on the unwashed masses.
The best part of the Mud Pro story is the amazing sales success it’s enjoying after less than one year in the market.
Arctic Cat claims it’s among the best sellers in its 2009 line-up and is the best selling new model Cat has introduced this year. Clearly, the concept of offering consumers a model that will be taken to its limits, submerged in muck fifteen minutes after it leaves the showroom, might be considered risky turf.
Arctic Cat is among the most brazen OEMs when it comes to taking chances, whether it’s ATVs or the company’s other mainstay product, snowmobiles. We’re bowing deep toward Thief River Falls, Minnesota out of respect for the company’s bold move in this new segment. The spoils of victory often go to those taking the biggest risks.
Here’s another recession era innovative ATV just released at the 2010 Polaris new model intro covered elsewhere in this issue: The all-new Ranger EV (Electric Vehicle). Okay, don’t worry, we’re not going all green here at All-Terrain Vehicle magazine. In fact, when Polaris pulled the sheets off the EV Ranger we were underwhelmed at first look.
However, once we had the opportunity to get behind the wheel and sample it, we went through some kind of weird metamorphosis.
Seriously, all of us at the intro experienced this. Once we drove the EV our minds went wild with possibilities for a totally PC vehicle, environmentally sanctified and more palatable to the enviro masses than anything in the ATV market. The fact is, the Ranger EV can be used where gas powered UTVs will never tread.
Think about this: Inner city ATV trails. Can you imagine a sanctimonious bunny hugger’s reaction to a zero emission SxS? Okay, maybe inner city ATV trails are a stretch but there are thousands of applications for the Ranger EV in places gas power is not and will never be acceptable.
The bottom line on the EV for ATV enthusiasts is performance. Sitting down? It’s entirely acceptable! It can be trail ridden in deep woods and gnarly, rutted terrain with ease. Polaris’ best-in-biz 4-wheel drive system featuring turf/differential mode works exactly the same as gas versions.
The EVs top speed of 25 mph is totally acceptable on virtually everything but wide open fire roads or rail grade. A claimed charge range of up to 50 miles is good for about 90-percent of most riding in our books.
Needless to say, in the current economic situation, this is a gutsy move aimed at an untapped and largely inestimable market. We think Polaris is going to sell a load of these innovative electric vehicles at a time when conventional off-road sales have slowed.
Truly, when the going gets tough, in the ATV industry, the tough have gotten going. Furthermore, we don’t think innovation driven by necessity is over yet. Look for more moves into untapped markets with both ATVs and SxS vehicles.