All Terrain Vehicle Facts and Figures
Although smaller companies made all terrain vehicles earlier, Honda really jumpstarted the popularity of the ATV when it brought out its first model in 1970. This was in response to their United States dealers’ desire for something they could sell in colder weather when motorcycle sales dwindled. The following year these vehicles appeared in the James Bond movie “Diamond Are Forever.” It was initially intended as a purely recreational vehicle, but farmers found them useful for agriculture. Many use them to check up on their livestock or see how their crops are doing. In a 2010 report, the Government Accountability Office reported that 79% of ATVs are used for recreation, and 21% for commercial purposes.
The early ATVs were all three-wheeled models. Suzuki introduced the first four-wheeled ATV in 1982, and other manufacturers quickly followed with their own four-wheeled versions. By the late 1980s all manufacture of three-wheeled ATVs had ceased due to the safety concerns of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Two types of accidents were of particular concern: (1) Tipping over when cornering too fast. Four-wheel versions with two wheels in front instead of one provide more stability. (2) Flipping backward when going uphill, especially when accelerating. Four-wheel ATVs have greater weight up front, which reduces the likelihood of flipping over. Average annual sales of ATVs in the United States were just under 230,000 units in 2012-2014. Safety is still a concern, and ATV training classes are now available.