You must understand: simply reading about the outdoor thrills that await you within the Polaris and Arctic Cat line of ATVs is simply not enough. Until you’ve strapped on a helmet, turned the key and jammed down the throttle on a snow trail or sand dune on an open strip of wilderness, you can’t fully understand the term "call of the wild." You’ll definitely enjoy it, because inside every commuting rat-race patron and chic stylized glamorazzi is a suppressed wild animal suffocating in the manufactured world and dying to get out.
Excitement? Adventure? Deep inside everyone craves these things. Arctic Cat and Polaris are two of the chief purveyors of outdoor thrills, and have been for some time now. Both developed in the frigid north of Minnesota. Though both companies have deep roots in the snowmobile industry, it’s their evolution and impact in the ATV market that makes them stand out. The companies have been in bitter competition since their beginnings, which are inextricably intertwined, so once you understand their evolutions and what each offers, you’ll be far more ready to make your decision between the two.
Evolution of Polaris
Though Polaris is now best known for some of its amazing all-terrain vehicles, understanding its history is vital to recognizing the competition that led to the ATV market being what it is today. Polaris started making its way to recognition when Edgar Hetteen, the father of snowmobiles and head of Polaris, created the first snowmobile. He eventually would leave the company due to conflict with the board of directors over his spending so much time away to promote the new machine, but Polaris would continue in his absence and become a national force through their vehicles.
Polaris was able to successfully move outside of the snowmobile industry due to its release of the very first ATV made in America in 1985. This vehicle was called the Trail Boss. Polaris would continue releasing ATVs that broke the mold, including the Polaris Rocky Mountain King, and because of their ability to think outside of the box, they’ve had seen nearly $2 billion in revenue through 2010.
Evolution of Arctic Cat
The reason Arctic Cat and Polaris have always been stark contrasts of each other is the fact that Edgar Hetteen, the founder of Polaris who had to leave the company, was also the founder of Arctic Cat. This occurred in 1960, and Hetteen jumped right into snowmobile competition with Polaris. Of course, the company would evolve into selling ATVs and watercraft, much like Polaris, but today it is mostly known for its production of ATVs, snowmobiles and side-by-sides.
The Rivalry Heats Up the Market
It’s easy to understand just why there was so much competition between Polaris and Arctic Cat. It’s the typical tale of the jilted lover, doing whatever they can to get back at their estranged former flame. Except in this case, the story involved companies, chief executive officers, boards of directors and a healthy competition that would lead to ATVs and side-by-sides getting progressively better in an effort by each company to achieve supremacy in the market.
Competition between the two companies is so intense, in fact, that it’s sometimes difficult to tell their vehicles apart by vision alone. An individual standing about 30 feet away from a 2014 Polaris RZR 800 and an Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail, for instance, may not even be able to tell the difference. When it comes down to vehicle specs, though, such as differences in wheel bases and brake types, the connoisseur will see variances.
It should be noted, though, that the vehicles are exceptionally similar as well. Their dry weights are within three pounds of each other, fuel capacities are within .15 of a gallon of each other, both have electronic fuel injection systems and their towing capacities are the exact same. Yes… the competition is very real.
The Market Benefits from Competition
No one in Polaris or Arctic Cat invented the first ATV. In fact, it wasn’t until 1985 that Polaris threw its hat into the ATV arena. It was a full decade before Arctic Cat would start producing these vehicles. Their goal of beating each other, though, created some of the most marketable, versatile and utilitarian ATVs on the market.
This, in turn, made other ATV manufacturers step up their games. Yamaha and Honda have had to put out increasingly great models due to the Polaris vs. Arctic Cat feud. New technologies, such as electronic power steering and fully independent suspension on ATVs, have come from this increased focus on success. Other manufacturers, such as John Deere, even had to step down from their spot of making these vehicles.
There’s no doubt that Polaris and Arctic Cat played a key role in making the ATV industry what it is today. Even though there are other manufacturers out there, many people still opt to only compare Polaris and Arctic Cat. After all, with a blood feud that’s this intense and long-lasting, there’s no doubt that some of the best ATVs on the market will continue evolving from their ongoing rivalry.
This information was presented by Vegas Off Road Tours, Las Vegas best and most down to earth ATV tours company