We’ve guessed, postulated and waited and so far we haven’t seen a hint that Polaris has any desire to begin offering a 4-stroke snowmobile any time soon. This doesn’t mean something isn’t brewing, however.
So far, Polaris has limited its market to only offering 2-stroke powered snowmobiles and has had pretty impressive success with that strategy.
The company continues to hold second-place market share in the industry and its SDI 2-stroke technology is fuel efficient and very powerful.
Here’s the rub: It’s questionable whether or not Polaris can grow its market share without dipping a toe into the 4-stroke market. Some authorities tell us that 4-stroke shoppers only comprise about 20-percent of the industry’s total sales.
This seems arguable as we continue to see more and more new-sled buyers at least giving serious consideration to 4-stroke sleds before buying.
Also, the Yamaha and Arctic Cat turbo-sleds have swayed a considerable number of high performance buyers over to the 4-stroke world.
Here’s the elephant in the room: Can Polaris sit out the 4-stroke market much longer?
We think the company has been building chassis prototypes and 4-stroke snowmobile engines for several years. So far there’s been no commitment to a final design but the engineering teams have the capability to pull the trigger on a new 4-stroke when the time is right – and do it on fairly short notice.
We’ve predicted an engine based on the very strong turbocharged DOHC twin used in Polaris’ off-road RZR 1000. This engine already delivers power in the 160-hp range and is CVT-friendly.
A twin would fit the AXYS front clip better than a triple – although considerable alteration of the engine bay would be required – especially if the engine were to be turbocharged.
Another twist would be an all-new engine using the RXR 1000’s head design but a 3-cylinder configuration instead of a twin.
We’re thinking MY 2019 might bring the answer we’ve been waiting for.