ARCTIC CAT’S NEXT BIG THING

The development cycle for new snowmobile platforms is generally five to seven years. We’ve been frankly surprised, that Ski-Doo has stayed with the super-light XP-XS chassis since its intro in 2009 (8 model years) but, hey, why argue with success?

Polaris jumped all over the market’s expectations when it issued a re-done version of the RUSH last year and challenged Ski-Doo’s low-weight dominance. What was surprising was that the AXYS rollover was only about 5 years. Now that we’ve seen it, we’re glad they did it, though.

We’ve been wondering how long Cat will stay with the ProCross. Truthfully, we love this platform in all its variations and its handling, ride and performance are exemplary. We’re guessing Thief River Falls will still be rolling out PCs for the next two or three years but we’re also wondering – then what?

Changing everything is more of a big deal for Cat than it is for other OEMs. Why? Now Yamaha is marketing Cat-made snowmobiles and if there are major revamps to the ProCross series, can they be adaptable quick enough to Yamaha’s model demands?

We strongly suspect that any new Cat chassis will need to account for more Yamaha-specific technology as well as AC-specific features. Like what?

We suspect Yamaha’s new SingleShot lightweight skid is a strong contender to be utilized in either the Viper chassis or in an all-new chassis that can also accommodate the Apex’s big 4-cylinder mill.

We also think Yamaha would like its Vipers to have more distinctive styling and looks compared to Cat models and starting fresh with a new platform could help that happen.

Last, Cat needs to do the AXYS thing and utilize every production concept to shave weight from the new-Gen ProCross. This is especially important to Yamaha (using only heavier 4-strokes) and to keep up with the super-lightness of Polaris and Ski-Doo.

The other driving force is the fact Ski-Doo is pretty much long overdue to come out with something new, top to bottom. Such a new snowmobile could put the existing ProCross into the fossil category.

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