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Behind the scenes at ATV and UTV manufacturer Can-Am

To get an insight into how Can-Am goes about designing, developing and building its agricultural-focused ATVs and UTVs, James Rickard delves into the various departments that make up the process.

Arriving onto the quad (ATV) and utility vehicle (UTV) scene in 1998, Can-Am has gone on to create a large line-up of vehicles for the agricultural industry.

 

Part of the Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) family, Can-Am produces about 200,000 vehicles globally per year, of which a large percentage are sold into agriculture.

 

But while we are all familiar with the ‘big’ names in the business, such as Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Polaris, what is Can-Am? Where did it come from? And how does it go about designing and building quads and utility vehicles fit for the ag market?

 

To get a behind the scenes look into the company, we spoke to the engineers, designers and commercial managers involved.

Company background with Richard Gregg, district commercial manager for BRP

  • When was BRP/Can-Am established?

Bombardier Recreational Products was founded in 1942 in Quebec, Canada by Joseph-Armand Bombardier. Later, the company entered the off-road market with Can-Am Off-Road in 1998.

Can-Am off-road now has a global footprint, with all of its ATVs and UTVs built in Juarez, Mexico.

 

  • Where does Can-Am fit in the BRP family?

The Can-Am off-road brand sits as part of a large portfolio of products within BRP which includes Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft, Can-Am on-road, Evinrude and Rotax marine propulsion systems as well as Rotax engines for karts, motorcycles and recreational aircraft.

 

  • How long has Can-Am been present in the UK and Irish market?

Bombardier was introduced into the ATV market in 1998 and has been present in the UK market since 1999. At the beginning it was under the Bombardier brand name and in 2006 it became Can-Am.

Research and development with Richard Eck, design team leader, Can-Am Off-Road

Rickard Eck
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  • When developing a quad or utility vehicle for agriculture, where do you start?

Firstly, we need to take many considerations into account when designing an ATV or UTV. Depending on what segment the vehicle is developed for we will prioritise certain requirements.

 

If the ATV or UTV is in the utility segment we will definitely put more emphasis on its capability for work and agricultural applications. In addition, most of our on-road vehicle line-up, besides the pure sport segment, will also see the customer do some work with it and we need to make sure these offer rugged functionality.

 

  • What is more popular in agriculture these days – quads or utility vehicles?

It really comes down to the size of the farm, the tasks that need to be done and available budgets, all of which play a key role in what type of vehicle works best.

 

If you have heavy tasks mixed with long work hours, you are really going to see a big advantage with an SSV. For lighter-duty work, maybe where speed and agility is required, but still capable of carrying and hauling, then an ATV might be the better option.

 

  • How does Can-Am decide what models it needs in its portfolio?

The models we have in the showroom represent what is needed in the marketplace and is periodically refreshed based on research. One way that we do this is by having the team leave the workshop floor and visit customers in various markets, including the UK, to interview them and observe how they are using ATVs and SSVs. We do this because we want to find out what they want from a vehicle, including what their requirements are now and what they will be in the future.

 

Technology with Matt Tandrup, director of design, Can-Am Off-Road

Matt Tandrup
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  • When designing a new model, how often will you start with a blank sheet of paper?

It depends on the need from the market. We do both ‘clean sheet of paper’ designs and we also do partial redesigns.

 

Time to market is always a big challenge. We want to make sure we are always giving the customer the latest product.

 

  • What are some of the standout innovations which Can-Am has developed for quads and utility vehicles over the years?

Top ones would be technologies like our Smart LoK front differential system.

 

Our LINQ accessory integration system also stands out. This lets customers easily change parts on their vehicle, depending on usage.

 

We have also created new vehicle categories such as our new Pro Traxter long box, which brings more capability to the customer.

 

  • Currently, Can-Am is a big user of its own Rotax petrol engines; what are the benefits of using this kind of engine?

For BRP they are the backbone to its products. We have investigated diesel before, but after a lot of feedback from our customers we are satisfied with petrol propulsion. The performance a petrol engine can deliver over a diesel counterpart is also another factor.

 

  • What is the future for quad and utility vehicle powertrains; would Can-Am ever go electric?

Electric is definitely an option for the future. There are many benefits to that technology, but we are always investigating other alternatives as well. For us, we will look to bring the most appropriate technology for the application.

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