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.