Over the past couple weeks we’ve seen a new Yamaha with electronic power steering; an expansion of the Polaris RUSH plastic; a new 800 E-TEK and 60-hp 4-stroke from Ski-Doo, and some other line-up changes.
The question of what Arctic Cat is going to show will be answered next Monday, when they lift the information embargo on their 2011 snowmobile model line.
Until that point, it’s all speculation.
Here is mine:
Let’s get the dead horses out of the way right now so that we can quit beating them… there will be no Sno Pro 800. Although we all want it to be true, the fact is that the 800 H.O. doesn’t fit in the Sno Pro chassis. So no matter how bad we all want this sled to exist, I don’t for a moment believe it will happen in the chassis’ current incarnation.
Nor will there be a non-race 600 Sno Pro, because the 600 EFI engine doesn’t fit in the Sno Pro chassis either.
The only race-chassis Sno Pro I expect for 2011 is the Sno Pro 500, sporting a few tweaks that address its first-year gremlins.
I snapped the spy photo of a disguised sled a few weeks back, which generated a lot of speculation in this thread. Though some “see” a new chassis here, I see some color changes on the current Twin Spar platform.
If indeed this is a Twin Spar, which I’m almost certain it is, it looks much smaller than “normal.” I attribute this to the upward sweep of the hood’s shape being eliminated via the faux cover.
No doubt many of us want to see a new sled, whether it’s because we already have a current Twin Spar, M or Crossfire, or because these models didn’t appeal to us. What is a realistic timeframe expectation that Cat change up its Twin Spar platform?
The Twin Spar was introduced for the 2007 season, which would make 2011 the fifth year of that design. Back in the salad days of snowmobile sales – the late 1990s – when the industry sold twice as many new machines as it’s selling now, Cat could retool the plastic on its sleds with greater frequency.
The first-gen ZR hood lasted from 1993-1997 (four model-years), the second generation from 1998-1999 (two years) and the third generation from 2000-2002 (three years).
During the ZR era, Cat often made meaningful chassis updates and significant engine offerings, leaving us to feel like there were big changes even during model years when the plastic stayed the same.
Next, Arctic Cat first unveiled what would become the Firecat as their Sno Pro race sled for the 2002 race season, then as the production model Firecat from 2003-2006 (four years).
That history lesson is my way of saying that, if Arctic Cat sticks with the Twin Spar on its high performance trail line for 2011, it will have been five models-years with that chassis and hood design, just one year longer than the first-gen ZR and the Firecat.
The current sales environment suggests this might be a prudent strategy, even if many of us (me included) want the “next” Arctic Cat chassis now.
But beyond pure dollars and sense, there’s another significant factor that’s in play: a 50th Anniversary.
The 2012 model year will be Arctic Cat’s 50th. I see Arctic Cat unveiling a new chassis/plastic to commemorate the occasion.
If that’s the case, then I don’t expect any major chassis or tooling changes for 2011.
What I do expect for 2011 is some minor spec changes on a few models. Things like tracks, seats and such, essentially filling small gaps in the product line.
I’m hoping for a stripped down, price-point 500cc Twin Spar sled, similar to what Polaris has tried with their Shift models. Non-gas shocks, tiny windshield, non-adjustable seat, no reverse and maybe even without a carbide runners or swaybar. Something that’s under $7,000 U.S. msrp, and perhaps around $6,000 for a “street” price.
As others have noted in comments on this site, 2012 marks a new threshold in EPA emissions requirements. History suggests that thresholds will be met with some new strategy. Whether that’s new engines (or engine management systems), or greater reliance on existing “clean” engines, is just a guess?
Beyond consumer sleds, I wonder if we’re going to see a new race sled for 2011, which will preview the 2012 consumer sleds, much like the 2002 race sled that became the Firecat.
The argument against unveiling a new race sled a year prior to it becoming a production sled, is that doing so will halt any purchases of the current sleds. I’m sure there’s some truth to that.
If I’m to believe the speculative comments I’ve read here at arcticinsider.com, there are some Cat riders who are ready to jump ship unless Arctic Cat offers a new high performance sled in 2011.
If indeed there isn’t such a sled for 2011, maybe Cat will show a next-generation race sled early next fall, as a means of saying, “Look what’s coming!”?
That would be my strategy if were the grand wizard at Arctic Cat.
We’ll know some of the answers in a few days.