11 Facts You Never Knew About Arctic Cat [Video]

Arctic Cat is a familiar name in the world of powersport vehicles. Widely recognized for its snowmobiles, the company began its ATV production line in 1996. Today, Arctic Cat is a large manufacturer of snowmobiles, ATVs, and UTVs (for all kinds of purposes). 

How did Arctic Cat come to be? Why did its line of manufacturing expand to include ATVs and UTVs? Who were the brains behind the company’s founding? These are just some of the many questions that will be explored here at PowerSportsGuide.

Who Invented Arctic Cat (Brief History)?

Edgar Hetteen founded Arctic Cat in 1962 in the Minnesota town of Thief River Falls. Over the years, Hetteen saw to it that Arctic Cat developed vehicles that can be driven on snow or trails and bring family and friends together. 

However, Arctic Cat’s roots go back to the 1950s, when three friends became partners – Allan Hetteen, Edgar Hetteen and David Johnson – at Hetteen and Derrick Shop in Minnesota. The trio developed a vehicle capable of driving over snow, which led to its company name Polaris Industries. 

In 1960, Edgar Hetteen broke away from Johnson to begin a company of his own, first naming it Polaris Manufacturing before it was changed to Arctic Enterprises. In June 1988, Suzuki became the company’s major shareholder, which led to its new name Arctco. However, in 1996, a name change occurred once more. This time it became Arctic Cat. 

When Did Arctic Cat Start?

Arctic Cat was originally Arctic Enterprises that Edgar Hetteen began in 1962 upon his leaving of Polaris Industries. Hetteen was seen as a leader in the craft, with the development of the Boss Cat line all during the 1960s and 1970s. It was Hetteen who was responsible for the U.S.’ first front-engine snowmobile.

What Year Did Arctic Cat Start Making Snowmobiles?

It was 1962 when the first Arctic Cat snowmobiles were produced, and since then, the company has seen its popularity rise with avid snowmobile enthusiasts. However, the first snowmobile of the Boss Cat line was produced in 1968 at its 15,000-square-foot winter wear factory in Ontario. 

What Is Arctic Cat Known For?

Arctic Cat is most known for its M Series line of snowmobiles, which is ideal for mountain riding. It’s a one-of-a-kind brand that its competitors have been unable to match. Arctic Cat is also known for its snowmobile ZR series. It also produces utility ATVs and sport ATVs. 

Who Owns Arctic Cat?

Textron, Inc. bought Arctic Cat in 2017. Textron, Inc. is a family of brands that includes Cessna aircraft, Bell helicopters and others. 

Since its purchase, Textron Specialized Vehicles have developed and manufactured Arctic Cat products. The company adopted most Arctic Cat’s ATVs and other models under another name or stopped some manufacturing completely. 

That doesn’t mean Textron isn’t listening to its customers. They recognize the enthusiasts’ passion for the Arctic Cat brand. In 2019, off-road vehicles – snowmobiles, UTVs and ATVs – would once again be dubbed Arctic Cat. 

Who Makes The Engines For Arctic Cat?

Arctic Cat uses its own in-house manufactured engines but also engines produced by Kymco, Suzuki, and Yamaha.  

Since 1976, Suzuki has been supplying Arctic Cat engines, but this means Arctic Cat designed the power sources even if Suzuki manufactured them. 

 Arctic Cat brought its engine manufacturing line back to Minnesota without affecting its profit margins. 

What Year Did Arctic Cat Stop Using Suzuki Engines?

Arctic Cat stopped using Suzuki snowmobile engines in 2013, moving its manufacturing to the St. Cloud plant. 

Does Arctic Cat Use Yamaha Engines?

In 2009, Arctic Cat and Yamaha agreed to purchase Yamaha’s 123cc 4-stroke engine for its line of youth snowmobile. The agreement would later include Yamaha’s four-stroke engines for the 2014 Arctic Cat line.

Brad Darling, Arctic Cat Snow Division VP/GM, said the Yamaha agreement, in conjunction with the in-house designed engines, will ensure consumers get a plethora of engine choices in terms of horsepower, reliability and technology. 

The agreement with Yamaha went beyond the engine supply. Arctic Cat would manufacture certain snowmobiles for Yamaha at the Thief River Falls factory in Minnesota based on the specifications Yamaha provided. This agreement began in 2012 and applied to the Yamaha SRX 120 youth snowmobile model and later included full-size performance snowmobiles, beginning with the 2014 models. 

Does Arctic Cat Still Make Side-By-Sides?

Arctic Cat still builds and manufactures side by sides and ATVs for the young and young at heart. At first, the company focused on snowmobiles, but its foray into other lines began in 1996 with the utility ATVs. It would later include the side-by-sides in 2005.

The last side-by-side model Arctic Cat produced was in 2017 before Textron took over. Today, the line is offered under the brand name Textron Off-Road. Due to widespread demand for Arctic Cat, the name was restored to the side-by-sides and ATVs.

What Is The Diamond Drive?

Arctic Cat came up with a simple idea – to develop a drivetrain that was lighter and more efficient for the power transmission from the track to the belt. After conducting a lot of research and development, the company came up with its Diamond Drive (D-Drive or DD) in 2004. The instrument would replace the stand chain and chaincase of a normal snowmobile.

Its moving parts are much lighter than the chaincase, and it doesn’t need a jackshaft and increases the lifespan of the belt. 

What Year Did Arctic Cat Stop Using Diamond Drive?

Most models no longer used Diamond Drive as of 2012, but some models continued to use it for several years afterward. 

Final Words 

Arctic Cat is a leading powersport vehicle manufacturer in the U.S. With the help of numerous dealers throughout the U.S., Canada, Middle East, Asia and other markets, the company has been able to stay a popular choice for snowmobile, ATV and UTV enthusiasts. While Textron took over in 2017, the Arctic Cat name still resonates with the enthusiasts ensuring vehicles are manufactured under its name. 


Arctic Cat



Magazine Motoneiges


Recent Content