Photo courtesy of Polaris Industries
The evolution of utility vehicles (UTVs) designed for work brought on new possibilities for vehicles that were once thought of as purely recreational. With side-by-side riding, payload and towing capabilities plus maneuverability through narrow and tight spaces, UTVs can increase efficiency, safety and profitability on virtually any job site.
That means more industries — from construction to event logistics to grounds maintenance — can benefit from putting these work UTVs to use.
The use of UTVs for more applications also creates an opportunity for rental companies to add these vehicles to their rental inventory. However, not all UTVs are the same and to maximize your return on investment (ROI) from adding these workhorses into your rental company’s fleet, consider the following elements:
Avoid accidents and injuries. No matter the industry or the application, safety is crucial to any job site. Reducing accidents and injuries, avoiding mishaps and enhancing situational awareness are key focus areas for customers and should be the first thing to consider when determining the UTVs to add to your fleet.
While features can be added on to a UTV, look for vehicles with standard safety components already built in, such as:
- High-visibility, three-point seat belts. These can help keep drivers safe, while also getting noticed by surrounding crew and vehicles.
- Backup alarms and/or horns. These increase vehicle awareness while traveling throughout worksites.
- Speed limiting capabilities. This feature will help crew members to continuously meet job-site driving requirements.
Depending on the needs of a target customer, UTVs can be equipped with additional options. For example, lightbars and/or rear and sideview mirrors help maintain job-site compliance.
Bypass breakdowns. Durability is key to helping prevent UTV breakdowns, which in turn, drives productivity and profitability. This is done by decreasing vehicle downtime, lowering the cost of replacement parts and reducing maintenance labor. Look for features that can withstand the increased wear and tear of rental customers while cycling through various job sites.
- Heavy-duty, nondirectional tires. These are designed for longer life on hard-packed, rugged surfaces.
- Kevlar®-backed vinyl seats. These can resist punctures and tears from job-site abuse.
- Heavy-duty sealed driveline components. These increase resistance from corrosive conditions.
- Heavy-duty suspension. This can improve ride comfort, while allowing for better handling on rough terrain.
While durable components help decrease breakdowns, when coupled with routine maintenance, your rental operation and customers can further maximize UTV runtime. Maintenance also can prevent unexpected — and often lengthy — repairs that can lead to lost rental opportunities. Look for UTVs that have:
- Easy access points to efficiently conduct regular maintenance checks and limit unexpected downtime.
- Extended maintenance intervals to increase vehicle uptime. For example, the Polaris Pro XD provides up to 200 hours certified maintenance intervals for less in-field maintenance and reduced service costs.
- Fault alarms to notify operators when something is wrong, allowing operation to be paused before a costly repair is required.
Know your customers and what they want. Before adding UTVs to your rental fleets, it’s first important to understand your target audiences and how the UTVs would be used. From there, you can determine if one model fits the majority or if you should offer a variety of UTVs. For example, some UTVs are available with both gas and diesel options. Some are available in a standard full-size profile or a more compact, mid-size version for customers who don’t require the cab size and payload of the standard UTV.
In rental scenarios, having all the bells and whistles typically is not cost effective or necessary. Instead, focus on the essentials that are both universally desired by rental customers across industries and your rental branch locations. For example, basic cab components such as doors, windshields, roof and lighting are important for working through adverse conditions and keeping environmental elements out of the cab. UTVs with climate control options further allow vehicles to comfortably work across U.S. locations with varying temperatures. In addition, UTVs that are durable and simple to operate will benefit customers, while also decreasing the total cost of ownership for your rental business.
All UTVs are not created equal. In the rental realm especially, there is a fine balancing act of providing equipment that is simple to operate and maintain while withstanding the heightened wear and tear of the market. Renters typically don’t want the extra flare that owners may desire, but they still want equipment that gets the job done without worry of breaking down. These features, coupled with components that benefit your rental business — low maintenance, durability and all-weather cab components — will help you provide a product your customers will continue to come back for, while decreasing total cost of ownership and boosting your rental profitability.
Questions to ask if you’re considering a UTV for your rental fleet:
- Do they need to haul more than two people?
- If I expand to a crew UTV for more passenger seating, am I losing cargo bed space? What is the towing, payload and bed capacity? For example, can it fit a pallet?
- What fuel will my customers have on site? Gas or diesel?
- Are the key components engineered to withstand the abuse of rental customers, such as heavy-duty, longer lasting tires, puncture-resistant seats, and durable brakes and driveline?
- Is there a speed limiter and/or speed calibration?
- Is there a back-up alarm, horn and parking brake?
- Is the cab fully sealed to prevent dust?
- Is there an engine braking system that eliminates acceleration when going downhill?
- Are there operator alarms to alert customers before they overuse the UTV, possibly causing damage?
- How quickly are common maintenance checks performed? For example, does cargo need to be emptied to check the oil?
- Are the tires all the same size so I can stock one spare vs. multiple?
Kyle Crosley is a director, Polaris Commercial, a brand of Polaris Industries, Medina, Minn. For more information, visit polaris.com.