Polaris Industries leads the off-highway vehicle industry with a significant global market share. That top ranking is a distinction that their competitors envy. Yet, their stranglehold on dominance in ATV and ROV sales is in question thanks to another “first place” designation.
The Minnesota-based company is leaving its competition in the dust (or snow) when it comes to recalls.
Problems with Polaris
A report by the Consumer Federation of America identified 110 recalls for vehicle defects since 2010. Polaris had 35, significantly outpacing all other companies. Five of those actions took the form of “stop sale/stop ride” notifications, effectively taking those transports out of the marketplace.
Polaris already has a history of fire-related recalls following four fatalities and dozens of riders suffering burns. Two years ago, the company was penalized by failing to notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about the hazards, resulting in a $28 million fine.
As recent as late 2019, Polaris posted four more “stops” over fire hazards that covered nearly 80,000 vehicles with nine reported incidents. However, that data never reached the CPSC website to notify the public of these hazards.
The Difficulties in Disclosures
The consumer group mandates all companies disclose product defects that put consumers at risk. Yet, with limited authority to issue mandatory recalls, they instead encourage manufacturers to make voluntary disclosures. Many are proactive in taking products off the market without any negotiation with the CPSC.
More than another type of notification, formal consumer recall notices get the word out to off-road vehicle enthusiasts who are shopping or have already made a purchase. However, when a company takes it upon themselves to voluntarily notify their customers, the information sees limited publication for public consumption and decision-making.
According to FairWarning, the CPSC was taking steps to mandate safety standards. However, power brokers in the off-highway vehicle industry convinced Congress not to take action. One company led the charge with their contemporaries as they do with their industry, blocking any and all actions.
Polaris. The company that touts safety as their top priority.