Two decades since the introduction of the very first Polaris RANGER®, the historic legacy continues with the launch of the RANGER XP® 1000 Heavy Duty.
RANGER XP® 1000 Heavy Duty is a model designed for Australian farming conditions and is the latest addition to a strong utility vehicle line-up, setting a new industry standard with over one hundred user-inspired improvements. It features class-leading power (82hp), industry-leading towing (1134kg) and ground clearance (33cm) – which make it is the hardest working, smoothest riding off-road utility ever built.
So what does it take to design the new RANGER XP 1000 Heavy Duty?
“The process of getting a new product ready for production involves research, sketching, clay modelling and then a full-size hard model is created. This is followed by A-side Computer Aided Design (CAD) data for tooling. During the early phases of sketches and clay development, a new model can take between 24-32 months to complete a ground up design, with several team members contributing up to 65 hours per week,” said Steve Wilcox, Senior Industrial Designer at Polaris Industries.
Wilcox was the Senior Designer of the RANGER XP® 1000 HD, and responsible for the creation of the 2D exterior styling concept that was chosen to go into production and also overseeing the development of the design in clay, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and production. “I love the RANGER line-up and I’d say that the new XP® 1000 HD is my favourite as it’s a product of my own blood, sweat and tears – and it turned out great,” he said.
The Industrial Design department can often have five to six major programs running simultaneously, each having their own designer assigned. Very often, Senior Designers like Wilcox can often work on more than one project at once. “Typically I have direct involvement between three and five major programs at any given time and frequently have a few smaller programs sprinkled in as well.”
RANGER XP® 1000 HD was tailored for the Australian market. Customer insight was used for the developments made to the RANGER XP® 1000 HD with 100 customer-inspired innovations being incorporated into the product. Engineers and product managers spent time in the Australian market talking to dealers and customers to understand what features and enhancements they would like to see on the Heavy Duty version.
The ‘Voice of Our Customer’ is always present and taken into consideration in the development of our products. We use online studies, dealer research, ride clinics, and focus groups to gather as much feedback as possible. This way we can make sure we’re delivering on what the consumer wants,” said Tiger Bracy, Manager of the Industrial Design team at Polaris.
Wilcox agreed and echoed similar sentiments. “Without the consumer, we have no product. As a designer, I am provided with lots of research by the product team but on top of this I always try to collect my own data by having informal and personal interviews with real people and asking very specific questions,” he said.
While customer demand is an important driving force for constant innovation, so is the desire to remain a global powersports leader. “We update models because our customers demand improvement and they deserve them, but we also do it so that we stay ahead of our very aggressive competitors. We aim to refine our models with new features and push the limits of design to maintain our position as industry leaders,” explains Wilcox.
With so much valuable feedback and data from owners as well as years of experience and knowledge, how does the team decide which improvements and changes are the most important?
“It’s a balancing act between functionality, performance and style,” said Bracy. “We rank the attributes that are most important to customer’s needs, and we turn them into characteristics that the vehicle must deliver on.”
Wilcox agrees. “It’s also a case of balancing what is feasible within the scope of the program. We use our own experience and creativity to solve problems and enhance the user experience. Sometimes the consumers don’t realize there are areas to be improved. We’re enthusiasts ourselves and scrutinize the experience – perhaps sometimes more than our users – this is where we have the opportunities to innovate,” he said. Both agree that working on a product, and then seeing it being used by customers is an extremely rewarding experience.
“I love seeing the products that we’ve worked on being used by customers. For me, the RANGER DNA is ‘Hardest Working, Smoothest Riding’ and it applies to all the RANGER’s I’ve worked on. I’d say the biggest challenge is always having to prioritize the most important styling features because during the engineering process, compromises will always be made. It’s hard to let some of the key elements go, but you must in order to balance other features. My favorite parts of the latest RANGER are the stance and the styling,” Wilcox said. Similarly, Bracy highlighted power, cargo capacity, suspension and towing as key elements in this process.
“For me, RANGER must have a powerful motor, large cargo capacity, smooth suspension, industry leading towing ability, and a comfortable yet functional interior. All these elements we have built into the RANGER XP® 1000 HD,” he said.
To view the Polaris Ranger range visit Polaris Melbourne www.PolarisMelbourne.com.au