Known for its stealthy electric UTVs, Textron Off Road (formally Bad Boy Buggies) has its toe into the gas-powered side-by-side UTV market for a very obvious reason. E-UTVs make up only 1 percent of the UTV market. And while the BB brand has dominated this space and carved out a niche as a huge fish in a small pond, it hopes to capture a piece of the bigger pie with the introduction of its first-ever gas-powered UTV, the Stampede 900.
By Gordy Krahn
In recent years, hunters have been jumping on the side-by-side bandwagon in a big way and for good reasons. These machines are tailor made for hunting — capable of hauling multiple hunters and all of their gear across almost any terrain. On a recent turkey hunt in Texas a small group of editorial types, myself included, was introduced to the Stampede 900, and put it through the rigors of the hunt on the sprawling 20,000-acre Canyon Ranch. The take-away was that Textron is dead serious about carving out a piece of this market. And indications are that while Textron Off Road will continue to make electronic side-by-sides, the next several models it introduces will be gas-powered versions, beginning with the Stampede.
Phillip Jhant, Director of Channel Development and Recruitment for Textron Specialized Vehicles, including Textron Off Road, says the company’s deviation from its electronic UTV roots is also an opportunity to capitalize on a market that shows a great deal of growth potential — the reason Textron purchased the Bad Boy brand in 2010.
“We owned E-Z-Go, but our research showed that we needed a brand that transcended into the outdoor space,” Jhant said. “The outdoor industry grew at an 8 percent increase even during the weakest part of the economy [even in 2008]. It had positive growth even during those lean years. So it’s one of those moments when we stood back as a company and realized people in the outdoor industry find a way to spend money [on recreation] even when they can’t spend it on anything else. So that was the genesis of us acquiring Bad Boy.
“We’re the dominant player in the smallest segment of the side-by-side market, and that’s the electric UTV market,” Jhant said. “When you look at the growth rates and you look at what’s going on in the industry and where we are, we wanted to be in a 420,000 unit market, not a 4,000 unit market, and the only way to go there is into the gas space.” Jhant says the company spent about two years gathering data, examining those attributes users found most important in a UTV. “Coming to market really being a late entry known only as an electric four-wheel-drive we threw all the chips on the table. We knew we had to be better than everybody else just to get a look. We wanted to get beyond the spec sheet to the sex appeal that makes someone really want this thing.”
The result is an impressive machine that is sure to turn some heads. Here are some of the features hunters will like.
Power Train: German-engineered, precision-tuned 846cc liquid-cooled, 80hp engine with electronic fuel injection, producing 59 foot-pounds of torque. CVT transmission with a selectable locking rear differential. Fuel capacity/9½ gallons.
Suspension and Handling: The Stampede has 11¼ inches of ground clearance, high-quality springs, performance shocks and a four-wheel double A-arm suspension with 9½ inches of travel in the front and 10½ inches in the rear. Front and rear sway bars help to keep all four wheels on the ground when cornering for increased traction and handling.
Hauling and Storage: Customizable extended cab with 24 cubic feet of storage space. Two-inch receiver hitch, with up to 2,000 pounds tow capacity and a 600-pound bed capacity.
Hunter’s Package: The Hunter’s Package includes a hard-top roof, split windshield, plate brush guard, plate rear bumper, L-track seat back with gun mount and bow mount, WARN ProVantage 4500 winch with wire rope, hood rack, light bar mount, 42-inch LED curved light bar and two 6-inch flush-mounted LED light bars.