Sales of side-by-side vehicles overtaking quads in Australia

James Nason February 6, 2018

SALES of side-by-side vehicles are on the verge of overtaking sales of quad bikes in Australia, according to a major manufacturer.

US based Polaris says its 2017 sales figures confirm that consumers are actively moving away from ATVs (quad bikes) in favour of SSVs (Side-by-side vehicles, Utility Vehicles (UTVs) and Recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs) and single-seat SSV’s, such as Polaris ‘Ace’-type vehicles.

Polaris is Australia’s and the world’s largest manufacturer of dedicated off-road vehicles.

In 2017 sales of Polaris SSVs overtook sales of Polaris ATVs in Australia for the first time, the company said in a submission to the ACCC’s quad bike safety investigation, as indicated in the chart below:

Polaris adds that the same trend is happeing industry-wide.

“Being the industry leader, the observed sales trend in Polaris vehicles provides a likely bellwether for how the rest of the industry’s sales will follow in the future,” the company said.

The following chart generated from Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) sales data shows a similar, industry-wide trend away from ATVs and towards SSVs.

It suggests that industry-wide sales of SSVs are likely to exceed ATV sales within the next two years:


Polaris says the speed with which the trend has happened has been driven by a number of factors including:

  • Increasing model range options and availability and decreasing price options of the Side-by- Side (SSV, UTV, ROV) and Polaris “Ace”-type vehicle range.
  • The perceived relative safety of Side-by-Side (SSV, UTV, ROV) and Polaris “Ace”-type vehicles versus ATVs (quad bikes) by consumers and regulators

ATV sales forecast to drop to ‘negligible levels’

Polaris also forecasts that ATV sales will drop “to negligible levels” in around a decade if the current sales trends continue.

The company says the trend toward SSVs and away from ATVs is so pronounced that the question of if and how ATVs should be modified, which the ACCC is currently considering, is becoming “potentially irrelevant”.

“Polaris believes that much time, effort and (importantly) taxpayer funds are being squandered in well-intentioned but misguided efforts to redesign ATVs to be more like Side by Side vehicles and Polaris’ own unique single seat ‘Ace’,” the company told the ACCC.

“These single and multi-seat off-road vehicles (SSVs, UTVs, ROVs, Aces) with Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS) and restraint systems integrated into their core designs, are already freely available in the marketplace and are being actively sought by consumers in preference to ATVs (quad bikes), a belief which the above graphs clearly confirm. “

Polaris says it in the process of commissioning independent researchers to verify and validate its forecasts, and will provide the results to the ACCC when complete.

“It is Polaris’ position that the significant financial resources currently being spent trying to test, redesign and retrofit ATVs (quad bikes) would be better spent incentivising consumers to move to ROPS-equipped vehicles: Side-by-Side (SSV, UTV, ROV) and Polaris “Ace” type vehicles.

“This could be done through mechanisms such as rebates, ATV (quad bike) trade in allowances, primary producer grants, “dollars-for-dungers” or any number of programs which promote the purchase of a ROPS and restraint-designed and equipped vehicle over a non-ROPS- equipped vehicle.

A single seat Polaris Ace vehicle.

“Evidence of the efficacy of this approach can be seen in the very successful subsidy/rebate programs run by SafeWork NSW and WorkSafe Victoria which indicate higher rates of conversion to ROPS equipped Side-by-Side (SSV, UTV, ROV) and Polaris “Ace” vehicles than other states since their programs were introduced.”

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries notes that in 2017 the ATV/SSV segment grew its share of the total motorcycle market (from 19.9pc in 2016 to 21.8pc in 2017), with Polaris the overall 2017 leader with Honda in second place and Yamaha third.

Single-seat SSV’s should be a stand-alone category

Polaris’s submission also calls for its single seat Polaris Ace range to be considered a unique stand-alone class of its own.

The single-seat vehicle comprises a Roll Over Protective Structure and a passenger restrain system incorporating seat belts, side netting, side bars, and has a price range, performance and footprint similar to an ATV.



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