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Engine Speculation: What Does "Some" Mean?


(8/16/2010)

Engine production at Arctic Cat's St. Cloud facility

I was listening to the Q1 2011 Arctic Cat Earnings Conference Call HERE, and at 7:20 during Question & Answer portion with analysts, someone asks Arctic Cat CEO Chris Twomey to clarify what the situation is with transitioning away from Suzuki as a snowmobile engine supplier.

Twomey starts by discussing why Arctic Cat first built the St. Cloud Engine Plant (answer: “strategic reasons,” which sounds like Cat and Suzuki had differing opinions on what ATV customers wanted for engines), then he talks about the plant as state-of-the-art four-stroke engine facility.

Then we hear the following exchange between Twomey and a stock analyst:

Twomey: We just felt now ready on the snow side to look at doing some of our own two stroke engines and so we’ve worked out a transition plan with Suzuki to continue to buy through the 2014 model year and then begin making our own in St. Cloud at that time.

Analyst: So you’re talking about across-the-board the full line-up of snowmobile side, transition fully away, because the press release was not very specific on that?

Twomey: We will transition fully away from Suzuki in the 2014 model year and we will make some of our own engines in St. Cloud in that year.”

Analyst: There will be other engines outsourced elsewhere?

Twomey: (There) could be, yes.

To which I say, “Hmmm….”

To me, the most interesting piece is this: “…and we will make some of our own engines in St. Cloud in that year.”

He doesn’t say, “We will make our own engines in St. Cloud,” rather, he inserts the word “some.”

It was the same word choice that stuck out to me when they first announced the transition-away-from-Suzuki situation.

Obviously Arctic Cat isn’t about to talk specifics here. But it sure sounds intriguing. And it gets my speculative juices flowing.

If, when Arctic Cat transitions FULLY away from Suzuki and begin making SOME of their own engines in St. Cloud, WHO might you guess will provide additional snowmobile engines?

How about Kymco, who already supplies some of the Arctic Cat ATV engines?

Maybe a domestic engine supplier who can offer both clean 2-stroke technology and 4-stroke expertise, such as Mercury Marine? They build some truly excellent engines.

KTM? Both 2- and 4-stroke engines!

A handful of years ago the company announced a partnership/relationship with Aprilia. I haven’t heard anything about that situation for a couple years, but maybe there’s something brewing? No 2-strokes though.

Perhaps they’ll tap into the technology brought to market by Redline snowmobiles?

Kidding.

Maybe there’s a wholly different possible supplier, or maybe Arctic Cat is playing coy and is planning to build all of their snowmobile engines in-house?

If Arctic Cat continues to work with Suzuki through the 2014 model year, and if there's going to be an additional supplier, this new source will come on board for the 2015 model year, if not before. Which means we'll know WHO in 3 1/2 years, if not sooner.

Any thoughts and/or ideas?



Comments (17):

250 Tigger says:
8/16/2010 5:33:00 PM

Correct me if i am wrong but didn't polaris buy into KTM a few years ago. I think Arctic Cat has done a excellent job on their ATV motors. Arctic Cat is going to all in house motors.
John Zanon says:
8/16/2010 7:02:00 PM

I was just going to say that I heard about Polaris/KTM also, and was wondering if that was true.
Also about the Arcitc Cat Prowlers UTV's... they guys who have them in my town beat the pants off them and they keep going. The problem here in Upper Michigan is the DNR constructed off road ATV trails and they made bridges over streams, creeks, and ditches that are only 50" wide, so I bought a Yamaha Rhino because the tires center to center are 48" and I'm able to cross the new bridges where the Prowlers and Polaris Rangers can't, because they are to wide. Sorry...I wanted a Prowler in the worst way, but I had to but what fits my trail riding area. ...John
Ryan Teach says:
8/17/2010 9:18:00 AM

John... you opened a can of worms with the suggestion of "Mercury Marine". Great company with a greater corporate philosphy... that still is performance minded to the n'th degree. E-tec flag wavers, I dare you to call the Evinrude side of things "performance" minded. I would love to see Pro XS, XS, and Sport XS, and Verado technology migrate over to the snowmobile side of things- my opinion... WAY overdue.

http://www.mercuryracing.com/ ... look at the potential.
Trevor says:
8/17/2010 6:27:00 PM

Mercury doesn't have any of their own 2 stroke tech. The opti-max engines all use technology licensed from orbital, BRP has/had an agreement to use that tech in sea-doo's, so its probabaly not even available for cat to use. Orbital requires an engine driven air compressor, and extra injectors on each cylinder. Ficht (the name was changed to e-tec because of the early problems giving it a black eye) is mechanically very simple. Having sold and worked on both outboards I wouldn't consider an opti-max.
As far as verado... its just an inline 4 or 6 cylinder 4 stroke with a super charger bolted on... nothing high tech there.

I honestly don't know where cat is going to go with their performance engines...
The 800 and 1000 where presented to dealers with a set of injectors in the boost ports, and another set in the throttle bodies, in west yellowstone spring of '06. That has never come though, one has to wonder if all of doo's sdi patents made the system unworkable (poo is still having problems working around them with CFI, and that has been on the market for 6 years)
Maybe yami will be willing to deal with the HPDI used on their 2 stroke outboards.
flintstone says:
8/17/2010 11:11:00 PM

I think cat really wants to build the bigger engines but might use some chinese manufacurer or something for the smaller sled engines...isn't that what they do now with their atv's or is that polaris that does that?

anyway, the impression I'm getting is cat and suzuki are not on the same page anymore when it comes to the ultra high performance engines
Jerry Devoulter says:
8/18/2010 4:11:00 PM

Trevor... take it from a first hand inside source (Merc).... althought you are semi-correct above... you're on the outside looking in. Merc has yet to unleash the next gen. of the opti... because they do not have to. Pull the warranty records on the e-tec... they eat power heads for lunch. Its the combo of pushing a sub-par outboard past its limits. We fond this out in the early optis... think of it this way... too much pressure in a pressure cooker. Think XS line of motors... 350 SCI. How dare you call my motor... that motor just an 'in-line'. Having not considered a opti.. one would get used to second place.
Brad_M says:
8/18/2010 4:28:00 PM

Do I dare comment or will Donn and Roger be upset?
Snowman764 says:
8/18/2010 9:21:00 PM

Brad_M should draw the curtain back and allow the world to see the man behind the curtain.....
Brad_M says:
8/19/2010 9:35:00 AM

Sorry Snowman764,
I have no hearts or brains to give out today so click your heals and head on back to Kansas, and take that damn dog with you!!

He he, I'm sure John thinks we're freaks :)
snowman764 says:
8/19/2010 10:05:00 AM

Great idea.... they could call the next super scooter a ZR Twister......
I think I will just head back to Minnesota and wait for snow......
John Sandberg says:
8/19/2010 1:17:00 PM

Yes, I think you're freaks. Freaks are good, and often a barometer for future "weather." Regardless, I love the input everyone here gives. Enlightening. I want Cat to have a cleaner 600 and 800 2-stroke, which would mean some form of direct injection. I also want them to be able to build (or buy) their engines at a cost that will keep them competitive with the other brands. As for 4-stroke engines... can someone please build a 100 - 130 hp engine that's 50 lbs. lighter than anything currently in the market, and that doesn't break the bank?
Greg says:
8/19/2010 7:55:00 PM

I herd JLO will be powering cat's 2 stroke line again
Mike F says:
8/20/2010 11:36:00 AM

Bring back the Wankel!
Oldcats says:
8/20/2010 1:09:00 PM

I propose the next generation of the Drone!!!
john ethelweisner says:
8/20/2010 4:33:00 PM

Greg,, In your JLO reference there,, is Cat seriously thinking about using J-unk L-eft O-ver from Polaris industries? Lol

J/K,, they would never do something as foolish as that (I hope!)
Allen Teach says:
8/20/2010 6:46:00 PM

Two comments:
While waiting for the rest of vintage group at Fish Tales during last winter's Snowmobile Hall of Fame Vintage Challenge I asked Ryan Hayes if we would ever see orbital technology in a Cat. Ryan is Doug Hayes' son and was responsible for the 800 two stroke's fuel map. He promptly responded "No."

Granted the Etec is a fine running engine, but if any of you want to see a opti run, come any weekend to the Three Lakes chain in northern WI and see if you can outrun my Allison 2003 with a little 200 Mercury racing XS. Only thing I have ever owned, just as fun as a 2003 F7.
Ryan Teach says:
8/25/2010 4:23:00 PM

...this orbital issue needs to be put to bed. John, I strongly agree with what you said above. I spend the better part of my days neck, not knee, deep in industrial distribution. Gentlemen, I think the move to St Cloud is more insight than any of us can speculate. Cat did this in order to be able to directly influence the future of Cat engine building. Step back... the former engine builders for sure had min. order qtys.... think of how min. order qtys. can delay new product introductions! I think the Cat of 2010, 2011... will be far different than the Cat of 2012... able to react, introduce, and forge ahead much more aggressively than ever before. I will vouch for Allen above, I was standing next to him. I will also add that the conversation with Ryan that day will stand out as one of the main reason I will ride Cats for as long as I am able to snowmobile- class act engineer. I'm glad he is on our side.

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