News

Honda joins Polaris and Yamaha in withdrawing from Australian quad market

Neil Lyon, 28/05/2020

HONDA has become the latest manufacturer to announce it will withdraw from the Australian quad bike (ATV) market on October 10 next year, claiming it can’t meet the new standards applied by the Australian Government in October 2019.

The new safety standards require that by October this year all new quad bikes display a warning label alerting riders to the risk of rollover.

They also require that by October next year all new quad bikes must be fitted with an operator protection device (OPD) at the point of sale.

The regulations followed the recommendations of a report into quad bike safety by the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC) and were supported by numerous health and safety entities and farmer groups, including the National Rural Health Alliance and the National Farmers Federation (NFF).

But they were opposed by a number of ATV manufacturers who argued that rollover protection devices would not improve safety and the focus should be on better operator training.

Honda’s move follows earlier announcements this year by Polaris that it will withdraw ATVs from the Australian market in October this year prior to stage one regulations coming into force, and Yamaha that it will not sell ATVs after the October 2021 deadline.

NFF standing firm

National Farmers Federation (NFF) chief executive officer, Tony Mahar, said it was disappointing that established manufacturers would rather leave the Australian market than adhere to new safety standards for quad bikes “that will without a doubt save lives”.

However, he said the decision was up to the manufacturers.

“The new safety standard requirements are not an attack on manufacturers, they are everything about saving lives. The fact is that many people are killed each year in quad bike accidents and we simply can’t stand by and let that happen,” he said.

“There is no doubt these multinationals have done well out of Australian farmers for many years. Despite this, they aren’t prepared to wear the extra cost of adding OPDs to all new quad bikes, in the interests of saving farmers’ lives. They also oppose the new safety standard that requires all new quad bikes to display a warning label alerting riders to the risk of roll over by September this year.

“To be blunt – it’s shameful. There are about 15 deaths per year attributed to quad bikes, and over 650 hospitalisations. An estimated six people per day attend emergency departments due to quad bike accidents. While the personal cost is unquantifiable, the cost to the national economy is estimated at $208.1 million per year.”

Mr Mahar said farmers would still be able to purchase quad bikes from other manufacturers.

“The demand for quad bikes isn’t going away and other manufacturers will no doubt fill the demand left behind by those departing the market,” he said.

“We’ve had positive discussions with other established manufacturers who tell us they are committed to the Australian market and to make the changes necessary as of September 2021.”

Mr Mahar said like all changes, there had been differing views.

“The NFF’s support for operator protection devices is based on the best available science and medical advice. Our priority is protecting the lives of farmers, farm workers and other quad bike riders. Operator protection devices have been proven to do just that,” he said.

“The new regulation only applies to new bikes – there is no requirement for farmers to retrofit OPDs to their existing bikes. Although for enhanced safety, it is recommended.

“Honda made a similar threat when Israel introduced mandatory OPDs and while they ceased selling quads in their franchisees they remained available through private retailers.”

Honda

Honda Australia Motorcycle and Power Equipment managing director, Robert Toscano, said the company had decided to exit the ATV market because the regulations could not be entirely met by any ATV on the market today, and were unlikely to be met by anything in the future.

“The new standard is extremely disappointing for farm safety and the countless farmers who rely on quad bikes every day. The safety of our customers is paramount, we will never compromise on this. Now that the rules have changed, it means we have to say goodbye to our ATV line up Down Under,” he said.

“Safety standards must be evidence-based, in both criteria and testing methods, to internationally accepted standards. Honda has provided research to show the negative outcomes of the governments’ proposal but unfortunately it was not considered and we are here in this position today.”

Mr Toscano said Honda would continue to support ATV parts and servicing for at least the next decade, and would continue to offer its range of purpose built SXS (side by sides) and ag bikes.

Polaris

In announcing in February its decision to vacate the quad market, Polaris said it had the capability to comply with the testing and labelling requirements, but deemed the process of complying to be unviable considering the rapidly reducing size of the ATV market.

Polaris had actively opposed the fitment of OPDs, citing the lack of reliable evidence to support the safety claims made of such devices, and research indicating the devices would likely cause as many injuries as they prevented.

The company said it would now focus on the 30 models of side by side vehicles (SSV) it already offered on the Australian market.

“Over recent years the Australian off-road vehicle market has experienced record levels of transference as farmers transition en masse from quad bikes to side by side vehicles,” Polaris Australia and New Zealand managing director, Alan Collins, said.

“Polaris has led this transition with its industry-leading range of 30 vehicles with ROPS, and the market shift has been helped along in no small part by the safety rebates offered by SafeWork NSW and WorkSafe Victoria.

“Considering the vast contraction of the quad bike market over the past five years as customers flock to side by side vehicles with properly engineered ROPS and factory integrated safety technologies, Polaris maintains its view that the market itself would end up signalling the end for quad bikes over coming years anyway through sheer lack of demand driven by the availability, benefits and range of side by side vehicles.

“Polaris has publicly stated numerous times that we believed within 24 months the quad bike market would be minimal at best, as the market shift away from ATVs (quad bikes) and towards side by side products was in full force long before any government mandates or safety standards were enacted – obviously this shift will now accelerate even further over the coming two years as the Consumer Goods (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019 takes effect.”

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reported that the ATV/SSV segment contracted in its overall share of the total motorcycle market last year from 20.6pc in 2018 to 20.1pc in 2019, showing a segment decline of 8.5pc for the year.

However, FCAI first quarter figures for this year show the ATV/SSV segment had an overall increase in sales of 8pc over the corresponding quarter last year.

Polaris topped the segment with a 27.9pc share, followed by Honda with 21.6pc and Yamaha with 19.6pc.

Yamaha

Yamaha said while its customers would not be able to purchase a new Yamaha ATV in Australia after October 2021, its sport and youth models would continue to be available.

“This is because new sport and fun ATVs do not need to be fitted with OPDs. In addition, side-by-side vehicles are not affected by this ruling, so Yamaha will support our utility ATV dealers and ease the transition from ATV to ag bike and SSV business,” Yamaha director Brad Ryan said.

RELATED: Sales of side by sides overtaking quads in Australia

RELATED: Is improving quad bike safety a design or rider behaviour issue?

 

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Comments

  1. Sam Gladman, 28/06/2023

    If Quads kill people, spoons make you fat.
    95% of accidents on quads are people who shouldn’t be riding one in the first place.
    Don’t take away the bikes, regulate the inexperienced people use of them.

  2. Wayne, 06/05/2022

    Next we will ban ,on and off road bikes, all cars and knives, because knives are very dangerous in the hands of wreckless humans too. I’m going into the push bike business to make a dollar before they ban them too.🤣🤣🤣🤔

  3. Duane Thomson, 27/10/2021

    Take the big nobs out of the office and put the pen pushing politician wankers on a dairy farm for a month without a quad and let’s see how they go!

  4. Stephen Watt, 16/04/2021

    Yes a very good article Marcus Clark wrote, it’s very sad that operates die in any field but if you’re not component in operating or driving a machine accident or death may or will occur
    I for one have been using a quad for more than ten years now and rely on it daily for my work horse in doing stock movements and weed management.
    So I’m very disappointed that, once again the few dictate to the many !
    Training/ education/ discipline will go a long way to resolving the problems
    Maybe bike design. ie ridge rear axle also may help !

  5. Emi Agulto, 29/09/2020

    Hi I would like to get a quote for (2) polaris (2 seater with back rack ).

  6. Robert Cowan, 31/05/2020

    “This is because new sport and fun ATVs do not need to be fitted with OPDs.” So is this only targeting ATVs for agricultural use? Are recreational ATVs therefore exempt from the fitting of an OPD?

  7. Marcus Clark, 30/05/2020

    National Farmers Federation CEO Tony Mahar’s claim “that (OPD’s or operator protection devices) will without a doubt save lives”. without credible, scientifically proven evidence is just another example of how left-leaning organizations use the media and scare tactics to push an agenda that not doesn’t work, but will actually hurt all Australians who purchase ATV’s.

    I teach ATV/UTV operator and safety training for federal agencies, and have been doing so for over 2 decades, while ROPS (rollover protection systems) for UTV’s and Agricultural equipment have saved lives and reduced injuries, such a system for ATV’s would make them more prone to rollovers than they are now. In order for such a system (OPD’s) to actually work, their strength, that is the thickness of the metal used to make them has to be able to withstand not just one rollover, but multiple ones. Such an OPD system would add substantial weight to a vehicle that is already prone to rollovers by inexperienced and unsafe operators.

    For such a OPD system to actually be beneficial towards reducing fatalities and/or injuries, it would need to be more like a cage than ROPS systems on UTV’s, and in doing so, reduce the visibility of the rider, but more than likely, be something the operator removes or never uses. I’m not an advocate for ATV/UTV manufacturers, there are several things they can do to make their equipment safer and easier to operate, but they absolutely cannot be held accountable much less responsible for operator error. In over 2 decades of teach ATV/UTV classes, and having seen or made aware of many fatal accidents involving them, in every occasion, the ultimate cause of death was operator error, PERIOD.

    You can require manufacturers to build them like tanks with almost zero chance of injury or death, and I guarantee you someone will find a way to show their ignorance and prove it wrong. Bottom line, you can’t fix stupid, but you can educate and train an uninformed person, the latter will save more lives than any supposed safety system hands-down.

    Here’s a thought Australia, instead of some almost useless required training course before juveniles can operate ATV/UTV’s, how about a real course, one that covers the operation triangle, operation, safety and maintenance, but also make it mandatory for Joe Farmer/Rancher as well regardless of their age, NO EXCEPTIONS! Also, make it mandatory to have completed the course before you are even allowed to purchase one, people go nuts over guns, but hardly give a seconds thought to other things that kills frequently, you know, vehicles, motorcycles, ATV/UTV’s.

    Give me a call, I’ll teach your first one for free, you just pay for my travel, room and meals, it will be infinitely cheaper than losing ATV/UTV manufacturers and revenue because of some idiotic OPD system, and guaranteed to save more lives!

  8. Alice Wonder, 30/05/2020

    Smart vehicles just puts stupid people behind the wheels! Not a very smart idea.

    Better training is the most logical way to go. Should never ever rely on your vehicle to protect you from yourself!

  9. Bob randall, 30/05/2020

    It would help if you could show the anti roll over equipment in question. Does it actually mount on the ATV or is it a warning sound/light. Training wheels???

  10. Daniel Kaufman, 30/05/2020

    Bully for those companies to pull out! So sick of every politician and regulator expecting a business to manufacture products that are unable to injure anyone and overcome the stupid factor in most people.

    These politicians are only attempting to appear as though they give a crap when actually they do more harm than good.

    Why doesn’t the Australian government just supply everyone with a bubble suit and force their citizens to lie down on the couch all day.

  11. Troy, 30/05/2020

    Good for the manufacturers for standing up to government bull , education is the best safety tool. Accidents will happen no matter what. Why don’t they go after the popcorn company for a the kernels not Poppin.

  12. Darryl Greer, 30/05/2020

    I raced motocross most of my young life. It is not up to the manufacturers to be responsible for irresponsibility on the driver’s behalf. It is the operators knowledge and training on the safe operation of the vehicle that should be in question.

  13. Robert Parker, 30/05/2020

    If people would ride with respect and not so crazy on them they would never have no problem they tried to use them for boats and everything else it is unreal when I seen people try to use those ATVs for I have a 2003 Rancher love it does what I need haven’t had any problems at all with it if I could afford a new 1 it would be a new honda nothing else

  14. Robert Parker, 30/05/2020

    Honda is one of the best ATVs I’ve ever owned if anyone gets hurt on them 99% of the time it is the riders fault they need to learn to respect their vehicle and watch how they ride

  15. Marc E Schultz, 29/05/2020

    What device exactly protects the operator? The sticker seems reasonable, but what “device”, so importantly, can protect riders.








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