AI: Trenton, I was excited to see the introduction of the all-new Alterra 600. Before I hit you with detail questions, can you paint a picture for those reading on who you are and what your job entails at Arctic Cat?
Trenton: Hey Kale, I’m stoked to hear you’re excited about the Alterra 600. I’m the Arctic Cat Director of Product Strategy for Dirt. My position works with many departments within Arctic Cat – Most frequently, I’m working with Engineering, Manufacturing and Marketing to layout our product plans for each model year, and what new products and technologies to focus on. I’ve got a background in engineering and have worked in customer care.
Personally, I’m an off road guy with an off-road loving family – we love trucks, UTVs and ATVs. We spend quite a bit of time together enjoying them. My son was about two weeks old when he got his first Jeep ride in our Wrangler. When I got the opportunity to take the Product Strategy position, it couldn’t have been a better fit for me, and one I really enjoy.
AI: Like many others at Arctic Cat, it makes me smile knowing the employees behind the products I love, use them. What does the heart of the current ATV market look like? What’s selling? Have ATVs been overshadowed with UTV sales?
Trenton: The ATV market has been interesting to watch, and it’s impossible to talk about without mentioning COVID. Over the last few years, the ATV market size has been flat to slightly declining as a lot of enthusiasts move to UTV’s. COVID has changed the ATV sales curve though as people have looked for ways to enjoy the outdoors while sporting events and their kids activities were cancelled opening up free time. Consequently, ATV sales have seen a big boost. We’re seeing a lot of the people looking at, and purchasing ATV’s, are new to the sport, which is great to see. As far as what’s selling, customers really focus on mid- and full-size 4 wheel drive ATV’s where units like our Alterra 450, and now our Alterra 600, play.
AI: I can relate to the Alterra 450, as I bought one last year and built it up. That unit was a great price point and has not disappointed. I’m not sure where to start on the Alterra 600 since its all-new? You and team had to look at the Alterra (Introduced in 2015) and know you wanted to improve upon it, so where did you begin? What were goals for this new 600?
Trenton: In the Alterra model hierarchy, are the 570 and 700 models as bookends to the all-new 600. Both are great products and a lot of fun to ride. Our focus was to take all the things we loved about them and amplify it. More power, more performance, more durability, more fun. A big part of our goals also revolved around our manufacturing processes. The team put a lot of effort into making it more efficient to build while also improving the fit and finish with less complexity.
AI: Tell us about the Alterra 600 – Chassis is new, engine and drivetrain are new, clutching and even bodywork! How is this improved over the current Alterra models we’ve come to know and love?
Trenton: Like you said, there’s a lot new here to talk about and I’ll give you the aerial view. Let’s start with the heart of the product, our new 600 engine. The team designed an all-new engine leaning out all the lessons learned from our past engine development, and it’s important to note this is built in our St. Cloud, MN engine facility. We brought a lot of technology into the engine, and then coupled it with a performance tuned CVTech Trailbloc clutch to take advantage of all the new power. The suspension guys worked on suspension geometry within the chassis and upped the size of the shocks to deliver great ride and handling. And like you mentioned, all new body work eliminates complex panel fitment, but retains easy access to the engine for cleaning and maintenance. To complement the bodywork, we also introduced some cool new colors for the brand. Personally, I’m really excited about how the styling turned out, especially the LTD and SE models with big 27-inch tires wrapped around a new set of 14-inch wheels.
AI: How would you describe the ride and handling? I’ve always thought the Alterra had predictable handling and was pretty comfortable, but to be honest, I always wished the engine (or clutching) provided a bit more reactive throttle response for play riding.
Trenton: I absolutely agree. The Alterra has characteristically had great handling and comfort, but when it came to play riding, they needed a little more punch. Remember what I said earlier about the 600 development – our goal was more power, more performance and more fun. I can’t wait for you to get on the new Alterra 600. After spending an ample amount of time behind the bars, I feel we’ve accomplished our goals with a unit that really feels a lot more exciting. The CG is lower, it’s more balanced, and you get that throttle response you were looking for. It’s really easy to ride and inspires confidence. One of our engineering staff is a die hard sport quad guy, and he continues to talk about how much fun he has riding the Alterra 600.
AI: I’m pretty sure I know who you are referring to, and that’s encouraging to hear! Thinking about the field test team, How long has the Alterra been in development?
Trenton: Like most product development, the timing is between 2-3 years. I need to give a huge shout out to the team who has worked so hard on this new Alterra. The engineering team has been focused, passionate, and exceeded expectations. Our sourcing team got the best partners on board to produce parts with. And our manufacturing and quality teams have pushed hard to make all of it come together.
AI: When can consumers expect the Alterra 600 in dealerships? With the “COVID sales surge” will the new ATV be readily available or limited quantities?
Trenton: We’ll start seeing Alterra 600s in dealerships in July. We’re going to produce as many Alterras as fast as we can, but I’m glad you brought up the COVID sales surge. Not only is demand high, but all of us in the industry are facing challenges to get parts in to build our products. Things most of us don’t think about, but on top of COVID related issues, things like a ship holding up one of the worlds busiest shipping channels creates all sorts of new hurdles to jump over.
AI: One last question…where’s your favorite place to ride?
Trenton: Kale this is the toughest question of the day. I’ve been lucky to ride at so many cool places. I’m going to be a little broad and say my favorite places to ride are the Appalachian mountain trails. Places like Brimstone and Hatfield and McCoy’s.
AI: I’ve ridden both general areas and would agree, those are great choices. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Trenton: You’re welcome. Thank you for sharing that Arctic Cat passion here.
I mentioned this in the first article Kale but why no Diff Lock? Is this part of the parts shortage as they are not showing up on the other Alterra models that used to have this feature. Not very important to me as my 2002 does not have it, but I have read a couple of other sites that some really want it.
JimR – Yes, parts shortage is part of the problem. My guess, you’ll see Diff Lock on some/all these models at some point.
I know we all ride different, in different areas, but thinking about it, of the many ATVs Ive owned with Diff Lock, Id be willing to bet I only used it a handful of times.
Why do companies insist on mounting oil filters in such a way that gets oil all over the engine when the filter is changed?
Johnny5 – I give up. What’s the answer?
I got it! Dealer can do his oil changes then they can clean it up.
Johnny 5 – It’s always about money, it would have cost to much to put it in a location that doesn’t cover the one side of the motor with oil when you service your wheeler. And maybe there was no room in the machine for it to be under the engine.
It’s really hard for a rock to poke a hole in the oil filter when it’s on the side of the motor.
Hehehehe, ok maybe I’m being a little picky. But things like that just bug the heck out of me. Another example, a few years ago, my family rented some ATVs on a vacation. One was a previous generation Cat. The machine ran hot so we stopped at a stream to put some water in. Well, the access door required a small socket that wasn’t in the tool kit. We had to tow it back and lost 1/2 a days ride. I couldn’t help but notice the competitor machine you could access the filler with no tools. It just seems that service isn’t even an afterthought, it’s not a thought at all.
That being said, I hope the new machines do well.
I think it was implied in the interview with Trenton, but maybe not made clear by me…one of the bodywork objectives with new Alterra was to make life easier with less complicated panels and easier access to areas of maintenance.
Johnny5,..I bought a Form-A-Funnel. A few years back. Works good on Bad placements of drain plugs ( 7000 motor ) and oil filters . On a lot motors . Like my JD ! Something to think about . And Kale . No, I’m not sponsored by them .
I would rather have the filter in a place where i can get at it and have a little mess then have to tear the machine apart to get to it or hanging somewhere low where it can catch rocks.
Great to see Arctic Cat looking at the heart of the ATV market and focusing efforts versus filling every niche hole in it. Im really hoping for a Polaris General type UTV from them. One with a focus on a cab enclosure that works well for noise, A/C and heat. I want Prowler Pro engine quiet but have something with some balls when you hit the gas.
That’s what I have been waiting for too Jack. I am ready to buy if AC can deliver. I need a side x side badly but don’t want the same machine (Polaris or Can-Am) as everyone else. Drove an XX but didn’t care for the loud motor and looking for something a little better for the work side of it.
I think the AC communicates badly. they do far too little advertising and do not talk about what is planned. the customer has no way of planning, many want to grow and do not know whether this is possible with AC. that’s how you lose loyal customers. even the dealers are becoming fewer and fewer because they don’t want to live in uncertainty. The new Alterra shows that AC is working on a future, but some behaviors don’t signal this. I think the customer should be able to participate in daily life at the plant. At the moment there is still a big fanatic, but this is also getting smaller and smaller if there is no communication on social media.
Jack I also agree. Maybe as simple as the prowler pro motor, but add a turbo! I currently have a havoc and love the machine for power, speed, handling, all of it. But I did put a full cab on it for northern Wisconsin winters and it’s loud! I really am not sure why the havoc didn’t sell very well, but other than it being loud, I love it. Especially having the extended cab. I have three thousand miles and haven’t had any problems yet. Cat is really missing the sxs market by the extremely limited line up. Looking to see something new coming soon. I love to see the new atv, it shows they still have have some people working hard at a new line up.
Robin – I have questions for you…
Advertising – Where do you want to see more Arctic Cat ads, and will it make you buy product? What content are you looking for in those ads?
Customer Planning – Im not sure I understand this one, so I ask, What examples from other OEMs give you a feeling that you know their future product offerings? (I cant think of one OEM that shares future product info)
Daily Life at the Plant – How would you like to be a part of the daily life at the Factory? Again, do you have other OEM examples?
Do you consider the Arctic Cat employee interviews I share here as part of a look inside the daily life of the Arctic Cat factory? Im pretty grateful Arctic Cat allows me access to those employees.
Dealers – The dealer base did shrink. I don’t know the reasoning why, those decisions are far beyond my knowledge or intel. I do know, the dealer base is growing versus a continual decline. It may not be a quick growth, but dealers are being added. Hooray!
Again, if anyone has suggestions for Arctic Cat stories they’d like to see on this site, please contact me. Its my goal to provide you accurate information about the brand we love and I appreciate the many thousands that come to ArcticInsider. Arcticinsider@gmail.com
Perfect comeback Kale! Some people cannot be made happy. I am really looking forward to seeing the 600 Alterra in person. I am more interested in a say a smaller version of the Prowler Pro like a 54″ wide but I am an ATV owner and I could really get used to a machine like the 600 is seeming to be. My 2002 500 Manual is a great quad but it is going on 20 years old. One way or the other, by next summer, I will be on a new Cat.
As someone who rides a 2016 Alterra 550 for the past 5 years this is the kind of stuff that gets me pumped up about arctic cat. My 550 is no slouch it’s a lot of fun to drive still. I have about 2000km on it now. I’ve never used the diff lock yet on the trail.
I would buy one of these if I hadn’t have snow checked my first sled ever this year.
Also I’m holding out that they make a mud pro again…Come on arctic cat, us boys in the swampy parts of the country need horsepower and 28’s at least! Lets kick some canned ham!
Keep up the good work arctic cat
KATDEN4 – I was looking at purchasing a Havoc until they quit making them. I didn’t want to sink my money into a discontinued model for obvious reasons. I also didn’t like how they kept changing the name on it from Cat to Textron and then back to Cat and the whole Stampede or Cat thing was confusing. I’m hoping they pulled the plug on it to re-work it a little and then bring it back as a Cat Badged Competitor for the General. Maybe re-work the styling and improve the fit & finish while reducing cab noise and heat. That would be a home run! I like the Prowler Pro but want something with more horsepower for trail riding.
Bulldog: You can still get the Havoc through Tracker!
Like the new 600, seeing something new gives me some hope for Cats future. Chassis and drive train looks like its designed for more power. Fingers crossed for an 850/1000 with a front locker in the near future.
I have a great Cat Dealer I buy all my sleds from. He treats me great and provides awesome service. Why would I buy a Tracker from a Bass Pro shop or a Cabelas?
Just saying they are available.
I’m in the same boat as many. Die hard cat guy forced to buy a 4 seater general . When will arctic cat make a 4 seater to compete with the general and pro xp? This has to be topic at every meeting Arctic cat has. If not it sure needs to be.