The nascent electric UTV industry is set to get another interesting offering later this week when Volcon (Nasdaq: VLCN) unveils its long-awaited Stag UTV.
According to the company, “Volcon, the first all-electric, off-road powersports company, will officially launch and open the door to consumer reservations via its website for its flagship, fully electric UTV, called the Stag, on Friday, July 1, 2022, at 1 PM EST (10 AM PST).”
The Stag has been nearly two years in the making after being announced at the company’s founding in late 2020.
Since the company’s debut nearly two years ago, most of its efforts have gone into the development and production of the Volcon Grunt.
The fat tire off-road electric motorcycle began making deliveries in late 2021, less than a year after the company’s founding.
With the Grunt’s development having moved at a blistering pace, the lofty goal of producing a four-wheeled electric UTV suddenly seemed within grasp for the young company, and the announcement of the Stag’s upcoming unveiling all but confirms it.
While Volcon has said the Stag was expected to be ready at some point in 2022, the company is working on an even larger vehicle known as the Volcon Beast that likely won’t roll out until the end of 2023 at the earliest.
The burlier 160 kW motor that was originally proposed would offer twice the peak power of the early Stag figures thanks to a pair of motors.
The power figures for both the Stag and Beast are around half the numbers originally touted by Volcon shortly after its founding in 2020, but likely represent more realistic figures that the company is more confident it can meet.
After a successful development and rollout of the Volcon Grunt electric motorcycle and a significant expansion of the company’s dealership network, the young powersports manufacturer is well positioned to deliver on its promises for the all-electric Stag UTV.
On a clear windy night, 22 miles south of Ridgecrest, California, amidst the Spangler Hills, 55 utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) lined up to run a 25-mile-long race in the Mojave Desert. These specially designed vehicles are also known as “SXS”, or side by sides, because the driver and co-driver sit side by side to manage their crafts through the challenging terrain. There were several local teams, including Kevin Self, Dylan Tharp, Austin Griffin, Jeremy Marsh, Shawn Stephey and Keith Thompson. Others came from Bishop, Anaheim, Salinas and as far away as Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington State.
The race was coordinated by the DP4 Racing organization, joined by the new west coast crew of On Mission Motorsports, led by Ridgecrest’s own Kevin Self and Mike Schatz. DP4’s co-owner Ryan Sanders was excited about the event and partnering with the On Mission folks. “We are an organization that fosters a fun, safe, family-friendly atmosphere,” Sanders said. “On Mission shares that philosophy and we will function as a team. We keep entry fees low so that everyone can afford to participate, and we always set up as “One Central”, with spectators and pit crews safely positioned so that everyone feels part of the event.”
It was one year ago that Kevin Self met Jeff and Melanie Goldsmith of Culleoka, Tennessee. Jeff co-founded On Mission Motorsports to connect veterans with off-road racing. The group’s mission is to “put American heroes (veterans, active-duty military, and first responders) in the co-driver seat of off-road SXS race cars for an experience that makes them feel included and important. This racing experience, coupled with a weekend with us, is provided at no cost to co-drivers. This provides outlets for stress by promoting connectedness with the communities of heroes and off-road racers, a key strategy in the prevention of suicide and substance abuse.”
Self invited U.S. Marine Corps 20-year veteran Andy Mrozik to be a co-driver, and Andy’s wife Athena, a former paramedic first responder, to be Dylan Tharp’s co-driver. “I think this is a great idea,” Andy said, with a nod to his wife, “especially supporting first responders. I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve. This is awesome.”
Mike Schatz is co-leader with Self of the west coast On Mission team. Schatz serves as the pit boss/crew chief. “My father was a police officer for 20 years and a military veteran. My brother is a police officer. We all like racing, so this is why I serve on the pit crew. As a mechanic, I want to make sure everything is working well for the participants.” Schatz went on to applaud the leadership of DP-4. “Ryan Sanders makes sure that everything is fair and accommodating for everyone. These are good people in a good atmosphere. My favorite thing is being here with everyone.”
After back in November, it announced the availability of the Pioneer 500 and 520, Honda now completes the picture by saying the 1000 and 700 will return as well, with improvements where improvements were due.
“When it comes to rec/utility side-by-sides, Honda has the needs of every powersports customer covered,” said in a statement Brandon Wilson, American Honda Manager of Sports & Experiential.
“The Pioneer 1000 is the most technology-laden flagship rec/utility platform on the market, and it’s even better now, thanks to important upgrades. Best of all, the new Trail and Forest versions deliver even more enjoyment for customers seeking specific experiences. Add in the returning Pioneer 700, plus the previously announced Pioneer 520 and 500, and you have an unbeatable lineup. For 2022, life is even better side-by-side.”
The Pioneer 1000 will be available in Trail, Forest, Deluxe and EPS versions, the first meant for “dynamic outdoor excursions with family and friends,” and the second ideal for hunting and fishing trips. All come in either three- or five-people configuration, making for a very extensive lineup to choose from.
Pricing for the upcoming range starts at $16,699 for the 1000 EPS and can go as high as $21,499 for the Trail and Forest variants meant for five people. All refreshed Pioneer 1000 models should be available in dealership as soon as next month.
The 700, on the other hand, is much cheaper than any of the 1000 members, selling for $11,099 for the standard version.
In the opening line of his breakout song, “Mama Said Knock You Out,” LL Cool J says, “Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years.” As we start to return to normal in this (at least partially) vaccinated country and new cases of Covid-19 are falling faster than a Mike Tyson TKO, the question facing powersports dealers and OEMs is: are we going back to pre-pandemic sales levels, or are we going to continue where we left off in 2020?
According to Scott Yarbrough, Senior Analyst for Black Book’s Powersports segment, powersports values were “on fire” in the first quarter, as strong consumer demand, combined with inventory shortages of both new and used vehicles, created “one of the most exceptional markets we have seen in decades.” He says the rise in prices that started last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic “shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.”
Aside from some supply chain bottlenecks that have affected most industries in the first part of the year, ATV/UTV manufacturers are sitting in a pretty good position right now. Most OEMs report that they’ve had positive growth in the first quarter of 2021, led by Polaris and BRP.
Polaris saw strong growth in North American retail sales for the first quarter of 2021. Sales of $1.95 billion were up 39% from year-ago sales of $1.41 billion. Off-road vehicle sales were up 50% year over year.
Much like the street bike segment, ATVs and UTVs did not see any drop in values during the winter months, leaving their prices elevated well beyond normal levels as we enter the spring selling season. In this case, values rose faster than “normal” spring. Notably, the ATVs have kept pace with UTVs, as they had been relative underperformers in recent years.
Read more: ATV-UTV MARKET UPDATE
Continuing a run of dominance that has now spanned multiple years and sanctioning bodies, Phil Blurton scored his second straight win to open the 2022 Best in the Desert season in Saturday’s UTV Legends Championship race from Laughlin. Coming off a victory in the season-opening Parker 250 last month, the No Limit RD Can-Am driver completed 10 laps of the 17-mile course in 3:18:30.533, more than six and a half minutes faster than closest Turbo Pro challenger Joe Terrana in second. Chase de Sousa Diaz completed the class podium at 51 seconds behind Terrana.
They were joined in the final race of the day by the NA Pro teams, where defending series champion Josh Row paced the field for his second consecutive podium finish and first win of the year. He was joined on the class podium by Max Eddy, who improved on an eighth place finish in Parker as the only other lead-lap finisher in the division. It was a youth movement behind them for the final podium spot, as 13-year-old Cash Shaleen edged out 15-year-old Ethan Groom by just 34 seconds for the honors.
Preceding the battle for the Turbo and NA Pro divisions, the second race saw the Trophy Unlimited, Super Stock, and Sportsman classes do battle, and the advantage to a less-used course was that the overall winner of that race actually posted the fastest time of the weekend. Chris Blais’ winning time of 3:18:11.441 in Trophy Unlimited topped all UTV race times in Laughlin by 19 seconds, beating Brayden Baker by nearly three minutes and Jamie Campbell by more than nine. Mitchell Alsup scored his second straight Super Stock victory over Chase Carr and Connor Maxwell, while Eric Maxwell’s margin of victory over Jason George was nearly 20 minutes in the Sportsman class.
Under the race’s Grand Prix finish rules, just six of the 34 Turbo Pro entries completed all 10 laps of the action in the third race. In the second race, the Trophy Unlimited racers paced the field, but only five of 22 managed to run all 10 laps, while four of 13 did in Super Stock. The top NA Pro and Sportsman teams won their respective races with nine laps completed apiece.
The performance side-by-side market has quickly become one of the most fiercely competitive segments in the automotive marketplace. These unique vehicles combine supercar power-to-weight ratios with the off-road performance of a premier-class desert racer. For the 2022 model year Polaris has taken the high-performance UTV class to another level with the introduction of the all-new 2022 Polaris RZR Pro R and Turbo R models. Polaris recently invited us to join them in the desert outside of Las Vegas for a chance to jump behind the wheel of both the 2022 RZR Pro R and RZR Turbo R. Both were two-seat vehicles, and both were top-tier Ultimate trims. Follow along as we dig into what makes these two amazing vehicles tick, as well as what makes them both strikingly similar and distinctly different. Let’s go!
Engine Power And Performance
One of the biggest differentiators between the 2022 Polaris RZR Pro R and Turbo R models is the engines that power them. For 2022 the RZR Turbo lineup has been reduced to just one model, the Turbo R, which now receives its motivation from the same 181 hp turbocharged two-cylinder engine that was previously only found in RZR XP models. The all-new 2022 RZR Pro R received the industry’s first four-cylinder engine, a 225 hp naturally aspirated 2.0-liter sourced from the company’s Slingshot on-road vehicle.
With a 44 hp disparity between the two drivetrains, to say that the difference is noticeable would be an understatement. The power delivered by the new 2.0-liter engine in the RZR Pro R is simply unbelievable. With more horsepower-per-ton than a 702 hp Ram 1500 TRX, the RZR Pro R is a rocket ship off-road. Helping to control all this power are a set of three drive modes: Sport, Rock, and Race. Sport mode works as a sort of “normal” driving position. We found the RZR Pro R to have very controllable throttle response in this mode, giving us a composed driving experience when powering out of a corner or navigating tight and winding terrain. Rock mode dials throttle sensitivity back quite a bit, allowing for precise engine control when crawling over challenging obstacles. Finally (and most fun) there’s the full-kill Baja mode. With the dash-mounted switch flipped to Race, the RZR Pro R feels like an unstoppable ball of acceleration. Throttle tip-in is incredibly sensitive and the full power of the 2.0-liter engine comes on fast and hard. We especially enjoyed this driving mode on long, straight stretches of desert trail and when pushing hard through large whoops. It also worked best during those situations where we needed to get the front end light in a hurry when navigating sudden obstacles. To say the RZR Pro R is an adrenaline rush would be putting it mildly.
After 10 years of UTV adventures in the rocks of Moab, Rally on the Rocks will not be held in 2022. The political climate there has caused organizers to look for another venue. They look forward to a time when they might be welcomed back.
Rally on the Rocks has been combined with the Side x Side Adventure Rally and this new jamboree is scheduled for May 11-13 in Hurricane. Be prepared to see a different and beautiful setting. UTVs are welcome here and an exciting event has been planned by joining these to rallies.
Side x Side Adventure Rally on the Rocks is a family-friendly event with guided trail rides, primarily rock crawling with some less technical scenic rides in and around Sand Hollow State Park. Fees for this event are $135 per person and include an event T-shirt, breakfast each morning (continental Wednesday and Friday, camp chef hot breakfast Thursday), three days of guided adventures and one raffle ticket per person. There is also an option to purchase a dinner ticket for Friday night at $10 apiece. Onsite registrations will be charged an additional $10 per vehicle and camping fees are not included.
One interesting thing about this rally is that Can Am, Kawasaki and Yamaha are bringing their 2022 models. They will be available for demo rides on these three days. You don’t have to sign up for the rally to take advantage of this rare opportunity to test drive these machines on real trails instead of dealer parking lots.
The average temperature for this time of year in May at Sand Hollow is a sunny 80 degrees. That is perfect riding weather and Washington County amenities will round out all the ingredients for a great getaway.
The rally offers a variety of trails to enjoy from wild to mild and, for safety reasons, no ATVs are allowed to participate. Ratings in the Hurricane Sands range from two to nine.
Those trails with easy ratings include the following:
Dino Tracks — This trail has mostly higher-speed, double-track dirt roads, with washes and sandy, whooped trails. The rating on this trail is one to two. Archeologists report that there are over 400 fossilized tracks in this area.
Top of the World — Rated three, this loop trail includes a visit to the Flintstone House and a climb to the top of a cliff with amazing views. I have been on this trail and although there is a bit of a challenge, it is a fun and beautiful ride.
The moderate list includes:
Razzle Dazzle — Rated four, this is a scenic trail that includes some views of Sand Hollow Reservoir, Zion and Warner Valley and into Arizona. There will be light obstacles in tight washes, some deep-sand travel, and additional rock and dirt climbs.
West Rim — Two rides are offered on this trail — one is rated four and the other is rated seven. There are some obstacles on the later ride that are avoidable. One section spiked my interest, it is called “The Squeeze.”
Milt’s Mile — Rated six, this trail offers some decent climbs and steps throughout. Most stock machines with a 64-inch width or wider will find this trail doable. It might be hard to remember with all its ups and downs that this trail is only a mile long.
Much as I love off-roading, I’ve never really been a fan of side-by-sides. You know, those little souped-up, golf-cart-dune-buggy-like things you see zipping around the desert and sailing off into the dunes. The truth is, my hate is a product of jealousy; right off the showroom floor, a side-by-side is faster and more capable than any off-road rig I could build myself. But a recent day with the Can-Am Maverick helped me see the light.
Actually, it was two days, and for the first, I only rode shotgun. Can-Am let me tag along with professional UTV driver Hunter Miller as he prepared for the infamous King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, California — a week-long event where every kind of off-road vehicle you can imagine gets its turn in the spotlight.
With 16 inches of ground clearance, up to 24 inches of suspension travel, a short wheelbase, 200 horsepower and low gearing, UTVs like the Maverick are nimble and pretty much unstoppable. Miller’s race rig wears 35-inch tires, meaning it has no problem climbing up over rocks that are legitimately taller than I am. Miller’s race line choice is precise, putting the Can-Am on two wheels more than once, and often pointing us straight up at the sky, straight down at the ground or sideways to the point where rocks are 3 inches from my helmeted head. This is some next-level capability.
We aren’t doing this slowly, either. In a Jeep, a course like this would take hours. But in the Can-Am, we make it through Johnson Valley’s Sledgehammer and Jackhammer trails in about 15 minutes. Miller goes around a few more times to try some other racing lines, doing his homework for the big UTV race a few days later.
Speaking of which, when the race was all said and done, Can-Am swept the podium, with Miller coming in second. His brother, Cody Miller, didn’t make the podium but earned an eighth-place finish in the Unlimited series, where his side-by-side was up against big trucks with 40-inch tires, V8 engines and ridiculous amounts of torque. He was the first UTV to finish that grueling race.
Soon after the race, it’s my turn to drive the Can-Am. The Maverick X3 has 16 different trim levels, but I’m in the X3 X RC Turbo RR, which is Can-Am-speak for a UTV that’s built for rock crawling. Buyers can also opt for trims that are specifically built for the desert, mud or dunes, with 64- or 72-inch widths and a choice of two or four seats. My two-seat tester is exactly like the one Miller used during the race practice, just without all the safety equipment and with smaller, 33-inch tires.
Read more: 2022 Can-Am UTV Goes Anywhere You Want
Polaris isn’t simply paying lip service when it talks about the future of electrification in powersports. The Minnesota-based leader in powersports vehicles has already unveiled its first next-gen electric UTV and now has shown off several test vehicles for electric Polaris ATVs, side-by-sides, and snowmobiles.
Last year was full of carefully titrated leaks and teasers surrounding the highly anticipated all-new electric RANGER UTV from Polaris.
The work was made possible through a partnership with Zero Motorcycles that saw Zero’s electric powertrain combined with Polaris’s vehicle expertise and is expected to result in even more models in the future.
Unveiled in December as the new RANGER XP Kinetic, the new model was described by Polaris as the most powerful UTV on the market, gas or electric. Polaris is set to begin deliveries this year after the new EV sold out within hours of its launch.
Polaris certainly sees electrification as part of its growth strategy, as the company explained:
We listen and learn directly from our customers to deliver high-quality products, experiences, and services that matter most to them. While innovation has been part of our DNA from the beginning, our electrification and connected vehicle initiatives represent an incredible opportunity to exceed customers’ expectations in powersports and the recent launch of the Ranger XP Kinetic is the first example of how we plan to lead in these areas.
But the company isn’t stopping there. At a recent investor meeting, Polaris revealed additional images of electric test vehicles that could represent the next stage in electrification at Polaris.
Despite making it clear that these were test vehicles and “not vehicles that Polaris has committed to bring to market at this time,” it’s quite obvious that Polaris is at least keenly interested in exploring the direction.
Dustin Jones Goes Back-to-Back in O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Race at 2022 BFGoodrich Tires Mint 400
After winning his first BFGoodrich Tires Mint 400 in the UTV Turbo class in 2015, it took S3 Powersports driver Dustin Jones another six years to add a second triumph in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Race. It would take him just over three months to add his third.
Jones and co-driver Dustin Henderson teamed up to win their second straight Mint 400 on Friday afternoon, piling onto an epic winter that has included multiple triumphs in some of the biggest races in the sport. Outlasting some of the biggest names in the sport as they faced attrition and mechanical gremlins, Jones’ unofficial margin of victory was more than 21 minutes over second place finisher Randy Romo.
“It’s crazy—they truly make this one of the roughest off-road races that we run all year,” Jones said atop the podium. “It was crazy, but it was a fun course and it was a rough course. We had a little wind in the morning, so we were able to make some good time. We had a strategy and we stuck to it, and somehow, it ended up working out!”
The O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Race boasts the most unique entry list of any Mint 400 event. Ranging from professionally prepared and factory backed UTVs, to stock cars and trucks, to even military vehicles, more than 180 entries of just about every imaginable specification took off from Primm on Friday morning. This year’s roster included former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Indianapolis 500 runner-up Davy Jones, Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath, and Zero1 Off-Road’s annual celebrity entry in the spec 5500 class for MMA fighters Dan Henderson and Ryan Bader, United States Olympian Shawn Johnson, and her husband, NFL player Andrew East.
Jones’ unofficial winning time of 7:54:22 was a record for this year’s course loop, which ran in the reverse direction from December’s previous edition of the Great American Off-Road Race. Despite the dominant gap, though, the Louisiana native was by no means out front all day; this year’s Limited Race was full of lead changes, and Jones didn’t take over the top spot for good until the final lap.