In the market for a new side-by-side? If so, we hope you’re prepared to wait. Empty showrooms, months-long waiting lists, and frustrated customers are a common sight at dealerships across the country as consumers and retailers alike are faced with an off-road vehicle shortage.
The fact that there seems to be an ATV and UTV shortage is no secret. Customers trying to buy new machines have had to exercise patience as dealers struggle to keep them in stock.
But what exactly is the holdup? Let’s break it down.
When the world first shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot was up in the air. Businesses closed their doors, students finished the school year from home, and factories brought production to a sudden halt. Nobody expected sales of anything to remain steady—let alone to flourish.
Dealerships began cancelling orders and manufacturers put everything on hold. With record numbers of people out of work, nobody expected consumers to be, well, consuming.
And for many vehicle distributors, that was the case. Sales did come to a grinding halt. But shortly into the nationwide shutdown, it became apparent that not every industry reacted in the same way.
In a phenomenon dubbed the “pandemic paradox,” ATV and UTV dealers reported an unexpected surge of business. Even despite the entire world being shut down, people were flocking to the off-road community.
In 2020, the off-road and powersports industries experienced a surge in popularity like never before. Many big industry names reported record-high sales, particularly from new customers. This was great for many companies, but a sudden increase in demand made keeping up with supply difficult.
And now, over a year after the country’s first wave of lockdowns, the global supply chain is still reeling from the effects. As a result, ATV and UTV dealerships across the US are reporting exceptionally low inventory counts.
This is usually the time of year when dealers are advertising Memorial Day blowout sales, trying to clear inventory to make room for next year’s models. But due to the off-road vehicle shortage, many are still selling new machines at higher-than-MSRP prices.
Just talk to anyone who has tried to purchase an off-the-lot machine in the last year. They’ll tell you how rough the process is. Side-by-side forums are loaded with stories of people who put money down in January or February of this year, all for a machine that still has no ETA.
In some cases, dealerships are reaching out to customers with news that the 2021 model they ordered will never arrive. Some are offering refunds. Many, however, are placing new orders for 2022 machines. It’s all in hopes that these supply chain issues will have corrected themselves by next year.
But will they?
Nothing brings manufacturing and commerce to a grinding halt like a global pandemic.
Obviously, closing offices and assembly lines across the US is bound to have an impact on production. But now that most businesses are back in action, consumers and retailers alike are realizing that a return to full capacity doesn’t mean things will magically go back to normal.
So what’s with the delay? Why does purchasing a new ATV or UTV seem to be getting more difficult, instead of the opposite?
One of the most highly-publicized incidents impacting production was the recent blocking of the Suez Canal. On March 23, the Ever Given container ship became lodged at an angle during a sandstorm. The vital waterway was completely blocked for six days while workers raced to free the massive ship.
With 15% of the world’s freight passing through the Suez Canal, this blockage placed even more strain on an already struggling global supply chain.
Yamaha, for example, reportedly had “several thousand” products on the ship. This holdup, on top of material shortages, has made it even more difficult for the off-road vehicle manufacturer to keep up with demand.
Even without taking the Suez Canal incident into consideration, freight delays and holdups at shipping ports seem to be the norm these days.
According to Russ Banham of CFO Media, the lack of activity at ports all over the world is “a symptom of a peculiar side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The problem of supply not lining up with demand, a problem that Banham refers to as “supply pain,” is causing many US manufacturers to wait months for the components needed to assemble their product. So while consumer demand may be alive and well, with shipments being delayed all around the globe, suppliers still aren’t able to keep up.
Polaris Industries is one of many companies reeling from the effects of shipment delays. Last year, they temporarily closed 20 US and international factories based on weak demand signals.
Now, Polaris plants are back in operation and the company has been slammed with orders. But due to supply chain and shipment issues, they’re struggling to meet that demand.
According to former CFO and interim CEO Mike Speetzen, Polaris just “can’t get product in fast enough.”
“Our global supply chain is struggling to get production back up to speed.”
Shipping is a nonissue for companies who have no finished products to ship. Many manufacturers are having trouble sourcing the components they need.
If you have access to any type of news outlet, there’s a chance you’ve heard people talking about the global chip shortage (and no, we’re not talkin’ about Lays).
The chips in question are also known as semiconductor chips or microchips, and they’re a vital component of just about any modern device you can think of. They’re like tiny brains that power everything from cell phones to hospital equipment to fighter jets—and, you guessed it, ATVs and UTVs.
Without these chips, vehicle manufacturers can’t ship the finished product to dealers or customers.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Yamaha are among those impacted by the global microchip shortage. According to Yamaha’s President and CEO Eric de Seynes, it’s all “a waiting game.”
The company reached out to customers and dealerships to explain what’s happening and offer reassurance, even though “it could be months—dragging into 2022—before the crisis is ultimately resolved and the entire industry is aligned.”
It’s not just a semiconductor shortage that’s holding up production. A shortage in plastic supplies is paining many manufacturers, as well.
This problem first reared its head last summer, and unfortunately, things haven’t improved much. With so many companies trying to kickstart production at the same time, the demand for plastic has gone through the roof.
The auto industry, including manufacturers of side-by-sides and ATVs, are being hit hard as a result.
According to Derrik Ellingson of Ellingson Companies, which installs drainage tile and relies heavily on plastic materials, “we’ve seen about a 25% to 30% increase in costs…of what we were paying a year ago.”
And if it isn’t the higher prices of material giving manufacturers fits, it’s the cost of shipping.
As business owner Anthony Jones said in April, “We’re seeing shipping rates double, triple, even quadruple in some areas. That’s just going to cause everything to skyrocket. And it’s also going to cause shortage.”
As a result of these issues, manufacturers are struggling to source the materials needed to produce finished machines. According to the Wall Street Journal, Polaris isn’t immune to the global shortages. They are reportedly changing their production schedule frequently—sometimes daily—based on what materials they have on hand.
For example, one type of material that Polaris is struggling to get their hands on is foam padding for seats. When less padding is available, they shift production to focus on two- or three-seat vehicles. When more becomes available, they turn their focus to machines with four or more seats.
“If you’re mixing and matching, eventually you’ll attain a good product mix,” said Kenneth Pucel, Operations Chief.
Despite the disruption to the norm, Polaris is confident in their ability to roll with the punches and keep productivity as high as possible. As Pucel says, “You pivot away from parts shortages. Our team is good at building what we can.”
Until the roots of the supply chain issues are addressed, Polaris—and all other manufacturers—are exercising flexibility and doing the best they can.
The first step to solving a problem is to diagnose the root causes. But just because we know what’s causing the off-road vehicle shortage, doesn’t mean it’s an easy fix.
And as soon as these issues have been resolved, we can’t expect things to go back to normal right away.
“There’s a time lag,” said TSMC chairman Mark Liu, whose company is the leading supplier of microchips used in American vehicles. “The supply chain is long and complex. [Correcting supply chain issues] takes about seven to eight months.”
So just because you see factories back to full capacity and working hard to catch up with demand, doesn’t mean everything will instantly be fixed.
It will take time for things to go back to normal, and ATV/UTV dealerships (and customers) are certainly feeling it.
According to Justin Warren, sales rep at Lone Star Powerstore in Amarillo, demand is still higher than ever. Lone Star has continued to sell several machines each month, but their inventory remains low.
Warren says they hope to be caught up by this fall, but with so many moving parts at play, the off-road vehicle shortage could continue until next spring.
It’s easy to get frustrated when what you want isn’t readily available. This is especially true when that thing is keeping you from hitting the trails. From customers to dealers to manufacturers, everyone is feeling the growing and shifting pains that come with exiting a pandemic and nationwide shutdown.
And SuperATV isn’t exempt from the off-road vehicle shortage—we’re feeling it, too. In order for us to develop parts for new machines, we need to have those machines in house for fitment. The fact that it’s so difficult for us to get our hands on new models is impacting new product development.
As tough as it is—especially for those who already paid for machines that are yet to be produced—the important thing to remember is that we’re all in this together.
Are you looking to purchase an ATV or UTV at this time? Our recommendation is to get your name on a list as soon as possible. Call around to multiple dealerships, as some have more inventory than others.
And, of course, be prepared to wait a little bit.
ATV vs. UTV—Which Off-Road Vehicle Is Right for You?
What to Look for When Buying a Used UTV
UTV and ATV Insurance—Do You Need to Be Covered?
Adventure Awaits on the TransAmerica Trail
A (Somewhat Brief) History of the UTV Industry
The Pandemic Paradox: Off-Road Sales Surge During Lockdown
Since supply of new ATV’s/UTV’s is low why don’t manufactures work on improving older machines even more ? I own a 2014 CAN-AM Maverick 1000 XRS – DPS and would like to see aftermarket Heads, Cams, Turbo, and Exhaust kits to bump up performance. Also it’s a known problem with the older Mavericks that the CVT Belt overheats and breaks, it would be nice to see the aftermarket come up with a cure to keep the belt cool , be it with better CVT Clutching, or air flow intake and exhaust with a inline cooling fan and snorkel kit or something. I’m using the CAN-AM Maverick for example because that’s where my experience is from. It just seems there is still room to grow the after market while the industries are waiting on new product to trickle in.
Hey David, thanks for tuning in! You make some great points! Unfortunately, manufacturers aren’t the only ones struggling with inventory. Aftermarket manufacturers like us are struggling in all the same ways. We appreciate the support!
Hey I have a great idea go back to old school and put carburetor back on them.
Or just do what should have always been done, make the parts here in America then we wouldn’t have this bad of a problem. First thing to do is do away with unions. That’s the only way America can compete with foreign markets. Think about it this way we can buy for penny es on the dollar from overseas and the freight alone to get it here isn’t cheap but yet the certain item from overseas cost $20 and American made cost $50. Now the raw material I would think cost the same everywhere but thanks to unions we gave to pay some lardass $75 an hour to put a flat washer and one nut on a bolt as it comes down assembly line then you have to hire 200 more just like him for the other bolts, where killing our own selves. Well not as fast as Biden is killing this country but the unions aren’t far behind him. Just imagine the millions of jobs that would create. There would be no need for unemployment and all families would be well finance.
Absolutely correct. Thank you for calling it like it is!
Millions of jobs that no one will work. Everyone has help wanted signs out currently and hardly any Americans want to work. MAGA doesn’t work when the people aren’t willing to help out. MAGA cult is out for themselves. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country (and fellow Americans)
yes, lets do away with unions and then we can all work for 5$ an hour, 75 hours a week and pay 5800$ a month in rent. There is a reason unions exist. We proved again and again we can not trust big business. If you believe a corporation will do the right thing then you are naive. I agree as well with competing with foreign markets! i am looking forward to the day my kids get to work in an iphone factory where they would rather jump out the window to their death then work there anymore. Where they are not allowed to leave because they are slave labour. Yes, lets do away with unions and bring back child slave labour like foreign markets do. I do not understand how you think we would all be well financed. That to me is a massive leap in thought. We have millions of jobs now that go unfilled everyday. We had millions of jobs before COVID that went filled everyday. Lowering wages wont fill those jobs. We need to remember UNIONS built the middle class in America. The minimum wage should be 27$ an hour and we should stop importing manufactured goods from countries that have low wages.
No company that doesn’t have product should advertise or take deposits. I ordered a new pro Xperia in early 2021 it came in December. Should be a 2022 then . Corporations just screw their customers and really don’t care about the buyers, they want your money and they want to jerk you around afterwards
Same here… I ordered a new, 2022 1000cc UForce-XL from the CFMoto dealer in September 2021. It is now March 2022, and the dealer says it may be July before it arrives. Guess what? The new 2023 models will be out (or at least advertised) by then, and no, I likely won’t be offered any discount for buying last year’s model in July…. Meanwhile, my deposit is earning interest for the dealership, NOT ME!
I’m not waiting for a “trail-toy” either… I have a farm to run, and my older Yamaha and Honda UTV’s just aren’t up to the task after 15 and 22 years of service, respectively, but I have to keep them running, because what choice do I have?
It is crazy that customers have to wait 6-10 months for an advertised product. It isn’t like we’re special-ordering a limited-edition, or some hand-assembled, exotic sports-car.
I have 15g into a Maverick Sport that I have no idea when I am going to get, dealer playing dumb so they can keep taking peoples deposits knowing there is a shortage. My delivery day was originally May, it came and went. First week of May my delivery date changed to June. As of today it is still saying June and I am finding articles of the chips holding back these off road vehicles. Very dirty on the dealers part to hold out on telling people…..
I ordered a Polaris General 4 seater almost 5 months ago. So far nothing. The dealer doesn’t even want to talk about it anymore. This is crazy.
Much like B above, I put money down in January for a Maverick X3 Max with pending delivery of April/May. That switched to May to early June in April. July 6 and I am told by the dealer June delivery date is still showing. I asked my sales guy if they meant 2021? Thankfully he said yes, but I’m losing confidence.
Hey, Cary. Sorry for the late response. Hopefully you got the machine, and all is well now!
CF Moto !!! Are they really that BAD? everywhere you look there are CF Motos . No one wants them. Why ???
I have a Zforce 950 and really like it. Is it perfect?…no..but for a low cost entry point and fun factor it is really worth it…Not a lot of aftermarket for it but some…AND NO! they arent that bad! I ride really difficult and steep rocky terrain and it has held with the polaris’s and can ams and others no problem…If you are after plain speed then its not for you even tho it will do over 70mph!
Made in China. That’s why.
I ordered a Polaris General XP 4 1000 Deluxe with ride command in March, I put down my deposit and ordered and paid for a windshield, back panel and a light bar – was told it should be in around the end of May… fast forward to Monday of this week, I checked in on the machine and it was in route to the dealer, they had the VIN – I squared up paying for the machine in full, went to parts and they confirmed that all of the parts I ordered were there and ready to be installed… Showed up again today and my machine is on site and they are telling me that it is scheduled to be assembled and have the parts installed on 8/16 – when asked why it would take so long I was told that they have to prioritize machines that don’t have accessories – basically because I spent more money with them buying accessories I’m put at the back of the line. I was not very happy and said that I just want the machine assembled and that I will take the accessories with me and install them myself, even then I was no 10th in line – considering this machine has been or order since March does this make any sense or are they just screwing with me?
Thanks for reading and I’d love to know your thoughts.
I’m not sure I’ve heard of specific scenarios like yours, but I have definitely heard of many people that have ordered at the same time (or earlier) and still have seen no signs of their machine even reaching the dealership. So, I’d say you’re in a better place than most. Unfortunately, it’s just how it is right now, and I’m not sure there’s a good solution other than continuing to play the waiting game. Dealerships are definitely getting a lot of heat right now, so I’m sure they’re working to get everyone their machines as quick as possible. Appreciate you sharing your experience with us, Jason! Hopefully you get that new ride soon.. and be sure to check us out for any extra accessories you’re after! We’ll be happy to fix you up! https://www.superatv.com/shop/polaris/general/general-xp-4-1000
Currently we dealers have no recourse except to play the manufacturers game. I have been called every name under the sun. Liar, thief, etc. and much worse. Consumers might not be able to get the off road machine that they want in the time frame that they want. What is sad is the consumers blaming the dealers. We have no way to solve the problems of the world. So in closing, please be kind. The person on the other side of the phone or the desk cannot make your machine any faster by belittling them. We face the same issues everyone else is. High demand and low supply. If we come to understand that we are all in this together in one way or another and take deep breaths before we speak and mainly just treat people like the human being they are. Thank you!
Hey Jason, thanks for the feedback. We definitely know where you are coming from, and hope that we don’t have to deal with these issues much longer. Thanks for all you do!
thanx for your input on delivery dates.. ordered a 2022 x3 RS RR on Aug 15th.. not a single person will even comment on delivery dates at can am or my dealer. but hopefully it will be worth the wait.
We’re sorry to hear that, Charles. It’s disappointing for sure. Thanks for reading, and we hope you hear something soon!
I ordered a Can Am 570 Outlander and was going to pick it up and got a call from the dealership saying that all the new 4 wheelers they got in did not come with a speed sensor, not on at their dealership but nation wide. And that’s after putting a $500 non refundable deposit down so now I have to sit and wait who knows how long for a speed sensor to arrive in. 🙁
Hey Bryan, I’m sorry to hear this. Hoping these issues will soon be a thing of the past! Sending good vibes in hope that you get that sensor ASAP!
I ordered a 22 Can Am Defineder on Sept 2 2021. $500 non refundable depoist I was told I should see it in Spring 2022.
Hey Russell, thanks for tuning in with us. Sending good vibes your way that you get your ride soon!
Still waiting in my 2021 defender max limited. Was told it was on the road to the dealer on the Jan 6. Let’s hope that’s reL. they said it was a confirmed delivery date instead of the usual estimated date.
My local Can Am dealer wont even take a deposit until he finds out when and what he can order.
Right now ( Nov / 13 / 2021 ) Can Am has their ordering system closed to the dealers, opens it up when
they are ready to receive orders ( once every 4 – 6 weeks ). And when he can order, Can Am tells him
WHAT he can order. All dealerships are on an allotment fulfillment system. In other words, Can Am
” might ” open up their ordering system in 5 – 6 weeks and tell him ” Sorry you cant order any
Renegades at this time. Try again in 6 weeks.” And even if he can order this week, He believes it will
probably be June or July 2022 when the Renegades arrive at his store. Until then, all he can do is
take my info and call me WHEN he can actually place the order and ask for a deposit at that time
if Im still interested.
You know its bad when a salesman encourages you to try other dealers.
Hey, Brian. Thanks for sharing. That’s wild. These supply issues are really putting everyone into some tough waiting games. I hope you’re able to get your hands on a machine soon!
I like how you mentioned that the lockdown affects the supply for motorsports. My cousin mentioned to me last night that he is hoping to find a motorsports dealer as he is planning to buy a side by side for our family vacation and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if we consult a trusted motorsports dealer as they can answer all our inquiries.
Thanks for tuning in with us, John! And we hope you enjoy your ride! Let your cousin know to check us out when he’s ready to make some upgrades to his new machine. 🙂
i’ve been trying to get a rear bumper for my 2020 850 touring since i bought it i’m going to buy the steel and a welder and make my own . To hell with the dealers !
Sounds like we need more made in the USA and don’t count on things made overseas
We have been a Powersport dealer since 1963 and I have never experienced anything like this. Dealers often have no more information than the consumer. I have one manufacturer who has pushed back delivery of side by sides a month 3 times. A good friend who has been a single line dealer called me to say that he was going to go out because he can’t get product. He runs a good honest business. In our area I don’t know any dealers taking large non refundable deposits. In our dealership it’s pretty straight forward. Put down a 100 dollar deposit. When the machine comes in we will call you. If you decide you don’t want it or are tired of waiting we’ll refund and move unit to the next buyer on the list.
Dealers need to deliver units and if this keeps up until 2023 you will see closings.
Thanks for sharing some insight on this, Davem. We’re hoping the end is near, and everyone will be back to riding soon enough!
Ordered a 2022 Can Am Maverick X3 Max on April 15, made a 500 dollar *Non Refundable deposit, Dealer told me that they would get me weekly updates on the unit. The unit was suppose to be delivered the las week of April and now the unit has a 4 week delay. At this point I’m loosing hope because they try to sell me other vehicles, and feel that they’re just doing it to shut me up.
Hey Rudy, I’m sorry to hear about that. You’re definitely not alone in this. Sending you good vibes that you really do get it at this new timeframe!