A growing mini trend in car audio is the installation of sound systems in Utility Terrain Vehicles or UTVs. These vehicles are the work-horse version of the recreational ATV (All Terrain Verhicle). UTVs started out as agricultural vehicles for carting tools around the farm, and are now used for hunting, and sports riding.
UTV sales have grown steadily over the past 8 years, probably by about 10-12 percent annually, according to Dave McMahon, editor in chief at Powersports Business magazine. In the past year, retailers have begun to see more of them in the install bay, as owners seek to add sound systems to their vehicles.
UTVs can cost upwards of $20,000, and like motorcycles, their owners tend to load them up with accessories. There are no speaker cut outs in these vehicles and many don’t have room for a car radio. So a few companies are designing specialty audio products for them and some retailers are finding creative ways to add speakers and amplifiers.
“Yes, its growing. It’s not there yet but probably in another year or year and a half it will be booming,” said John Samp of ABT, Glenview, IL. “A lot of people are starting to get UTVs, it’s the fad.” Pictured at right is an ABT customers’ UTV used as a company vehicle for taking clients on hunting trips.
Tint World’s Paul Pirro says UTVs are creating an excitement similar to the “old days” of car audio, where dealers devised ways to create room for sound systems in door panels, before they were stock. “It began to get popular about a year ago…I think it has the ability to become bigger than marine audio,” he added.
Brands such as MTX, Kicker and Memphis offer ATV amp/controller systems that use a Bluetooth phone connection. MB Quart is readying a new powersports product and Bazooka (SAS) plans to show one at CES in January.
JL Audio offers custom Stealthbox enclosed woofers for several powersports vehicles including the Polaris RZR.
Polaris has a 43 percent share of the UTV market, according to Powersports Business.
Two audio companies also specialize in UTV audio including SSV Works, of Oxnard, CA and Audio Formz, Wills Point, TX.
SSV Works was launched in 2006 by two former Scosche managers, Trevor Kaplan and Nathan Perkins. It now makes hand-laid fiber glass speaker enclosures and woofer boxes for UTVs, which are model specific to certain vehicles such as the popular Polaris RZR. SSV Works also makes an all-in-one waterproof solution that lets users dock an iPod, iPhone or MP3 player. The system installs in 15 minutes. You can see it here.
Kaplan said UTVs attract an enthusiast market of people who want the latest, fastest, longest vehicle as each new model is introduced. “Dealers are starting to see these cars coming in because customers are looking to upgrade them.”
Audio Formz (top photo) offers 10 different custom rooftops for UTVs that include a built-in stereo system. The roof start at $1,399 for a radio with a USB port, four 6.5-inch speakers, an LED dome light and mounting hardware. The audio system delivers a total 180 watts. Higher end models add an amplifier, subwoofer or 6 by 9 speakers, ranging in price up to $3,000. Audio Formz offers a radio for its roof top that includes a compartment for an iPod or iPhone with a marine cover to protect it from the elements.