— By Joe Kosch —
If UTV manufacturers adopt flexible access programs like Cadillac and Porsche are testing, arrangements that allow access to multiple models for a set monthly fee, it could change UTV ownership as we know it. We’re all familiar with traditional UTV ownership. Owners often spend a great deal of time researching the vehicles in their favorite category. Once they’ve studied all the specifications, tests and shootouts they can find, they may visit several dealers to see their dream machine in all the available colors before they make their selection. After they choose their vehicle, they begin the process of customizing and personalizing it to look and perform the way they want. The customization process may begin at the dealer before the vehicle touches dirt, and it can continue for years as the owner shapes the machine, trying new aftermarket options as they appear. A dedicated owner likes to know their vehicle and is in no hurry to give it up.
Not all drivers want to spend years with one UTV. Some would like to experience every machine they can, and they aren’t bothered that they can’t spend a great deal of time with any one vehicle. Owning several machines at once, or one soon after another sounds great, but most enthusiasts aren’t ready for the costs involved. Flexible access programs aren’t cheap, but they’re less expensive than buying and owning a number of machines. The luxury car versions are $2000 to $3000 per month. UTV versions would be substantially less, because the vehicles are in the $10,000 to $30,000 range rather than $40,000 to $80,000.
Imagine if Can-Am had a program like that. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to drive a new Can-Am X3 X rs for a month and then try the X3 X ds or the X3 X rc? Maybe you have friends visiting and a four-seat X3 Max would be handy. Visiting a spot like Oregon that’s full of great 50-inch trails? Pick a Maverick Trail for that month. If chores start piling up, you could borrow a Defender. The Polaris menu of models is just as tempting, and so is Textron’s lineup.
Of course, it would be best if all the UTV manufacturers had flexible access programs, or an independent company started its own program offering access to machines from all the top brands.
There’s more to like about flexible access than being able to drive a bunch of different models. If the UTV versions of the programs are like the ones from the luxury carmakers, insurance, registration, maintenance, detailing and even delivery will be included in the price.
As neat as it sounds, UTVs may not be the best choice for flexible access programs. Some kinds of terrain and some drivers can be pretty rough on machinery, so it could be tough to keep the vehicles available in the program fresh- and new-looking. Anything’s possible for the right price, though.
Before you get too excited, let me remind you that, for now, only a couple of car companies are testing flexible access programs, and no UTV manufacturers have even hinted about similar programs.
I think we’ll survive until flexible access makes its way to the world of UTVs—and even if it doesn’t. There’s something satisfying about owning your own UTV, and flexible access is really a form of rental, not ownership. Having access to a bunch of new UTVs you’re basically renting is pretty cool, but so is driving a machine you’ve dialed in that you can truly call your own.