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A half-century of success for Polaris

A half-century of success for Polaris

Polaris has kicked off several months of worldwide celebrations, marking its 50th anniversary.

In New Zealand the brand is introducing a number of milestone models, including its winners of the ATV and PWC of the Year awards.

In the US celebrations will be held at the brand’s birthplace, Roseau, Minnesota and a worldwide extravaganza will take place in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in July.

Best known in New Zealand for its ATV quad bikes, RANGER utilities and PWC personal watercraft, Polaris is recognised around the world as a leader in its industry.

“Our ATV, Ranger and ATP models cover the field of riders, not just the familiar farm users but also weekend fun riders and all-out racers, contractors, horticulture and vineyards, local bodies, hunters and fishermen,” explained Marketing and Sales Operations Manager Stephen Harvey.

“Worldwide Polaris ATV sales are second only to Honda and for the past 20 years Polaris has led the industry in innovation,” he said, pointing to an ongoing list of firsts:

the first ATV made in the USA, the world centre of ATV production the first automatic transmission (PVT) the first MacPherson strut front suspension the first full floorboards the first on-demand true 4-wheel drive the first all-wheel disc brakes the first single lever braking the first on-demand 6-wheel drive the first quartz-halogen headlights the first composite racks, bumpers and floorboards the first independent shaft drive, long-travel rear suspension (IRS) the first electronic throttle control (ETC) the first sport model with true 4-wheel drive (more firsts…) the first dual-sensing engine braking system (EBS) the first lifetime belt warranty the first electronic fuel injected 4x4 ATV

Today ATVs make up approximately two-thirds of Polaris' total sales, or nearly US$1 billion annually.

It was 50 years ago when Edgar and Allen Hetteen and David Johnson started a small machine shop in the rural town of Roseau, manufacturing such utilitarian creations as mechanical electric pole hoists, weed sprayers, and straw choppers.

Then in 1956, Johnson built a machine designed to speed up travel over snow and in doing so created an entire new industry: the snowmobile.

In 1960, Edgar Hetteen led a 1,200-mile (1600km) snowmobile journey across Alaska, proving the new machine’s merit and reliability.

Since then the innovation, improvement and leadership which have become hallmarks of the company’s success enabled Polaris to survive multiple economic recessions and a blizzard of competition.

Polaris has become the number one manufacturer of snowmobiles in the world.

In the 1980s Polaris created the first ATV with automatic transmission; by year 2000 the company had produced more than one million automatic models, six times more than any other manufacturer.

In the early 1990s Polaris introduced a line of stable, reliable personal watercraft. It was hard work but diligence paid off recently when the all-new MSX Watercraft was named PWC of the Year.

In the late 1990s came the very successful Polaris RANGER off-road utility vehicle.

Now the ATP 330 All Terrain Pickup has won the latest ATV of the Year award, giving Polaris models the accolade three years in a row.

Today Polaris is a $US1.6 billion company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and noted as a Fortune 500 Company, has had recorded profit growth records for the last 23 consecutive quarters.

Polaris has dealers the length of New Zealand, part of a worldwide network covering 126 countries with more than 50 distributors and five subsidiaries. Polaris Sales Australia & New Zealand is a fully-owned subsidiary of Polaris Industries, which totally designs, engineers, manufactures and markets its own machines.

Today Polaris’ marketing slogan promises The Way Out, not just for recreational and lifestyle riders but also to help out at work.

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