BRP’s side-by-side vehicle engineering and design teams worked hard to create a vehicle that sets new industry benchmarks in performance, handling, comfort and convenience. From the Dual-Level™ cargo bed to the Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC™) system, BRP continues to deliver innovative and industry-first design features. We recently visited with Luc Bouchard, Can-Am Project Manager and Product Development to gain a more in-depth understanding of these features and a first-hand perspective on the design process behind the Can-Am Commander.
Q: With the new addition of the Can-Am Commander to the side-by-side industry, BRP continues to set the pace in product innovations. What were some aspects of the Can-Am Commander series that BRP focused on to fix or improve for side-by-side consumers?
A: We didn’t set out to necessarily “fix” anything that was wrong with the current side-by-side industry, but we did look at it from the perspective that it seemed a lot of compromises were being made. Why couldn’t you have a machine with 85 horsepower that is fun to drive on the trails and in the desert, yet has enough cargo capacity to make it a work-capable vehicle? That was just one of the questions in our minds when we set out designing the Can-Am Commander. Like any other project at BRP, during the development process our engineers and designers were encouraged to innovate and that is why you have features like our industry-exclusive Dual-Level Cargo Bed, and our Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) system, just to name two.
Q: What was the number one goal for the engineering team prior to creating the Can-Am Commander?
A: I would have to go back to the “no compromise” statement; it was the driving force behind the project. Design a machine that is just as capable for recreation as it is for working.
Q: What was the biggest challenge the engineering team faced in creating the Can-Am Commander?
A: For us, the biggest challenge was building a machine that would live up to the hype. Obviously the anticipation surrounding the Can-Am side-by-side was unprecedented in the industry, so we knew we had to make sure the final product would meet not only our internal expectations, but also the expectations of our customers and dealer network.
Q: Side-by-side enthusiasts seek performance, but they also demand a machine that is comfortable. What features were key to improving the driver and rider’s comfort level in the new Can-Am Commander?
A: This was an area our design team really focused on. We keep hearing it over and over, people describe feeling “one with the machine” when they are in a Commander. This is due to multiple ideas that were factored into the design. You aren’t sitting too high like you are driving a tractor, yet you aren’t sitting too low like you are in a child’s go-kart. The bucket seats with full bolsters and lumbar support, the seating position, the relation between the driver position and the gas and brake pedal position, the handholds for the passenger – all these things come together to make the Commander an extremely comfortable machine for driver and passenger.
But comfort isn’t limited to the body; it’s also part of the mental experience when driving a Commander. With this in mind, we added another innovative aspect of the Commander called the Intelligent Throttle Control system (iTC). As part of the iTC, the Commander comes off the showroom floor with two different keys that enable different performance levels. The normal key limits top speed 44 mph (70 km/h) and the performance key allows full power and no speed limitation. An optional third work key is available for purchase and this limits top speed to 25 mph (40 km/h). The Can-Am Commander offers different levels of performance for a wide range of uses.
Q: The Can-Am Commander series boasts some of the most powerful side-by-side engines on the market, so it may be surprising to know that Commanders also have the best fuel economy. What is it about the combination of engine and construction that gives the Commander its industry-leading fuel economy?
A: For us, having a powerful engine is one thing, but to have the most power and the best fuel economy represents the best of Can-Am and Rotax engineering. The superior fuel economy of the Commander is a combination of the following, to name the main ones:
• Optimized air intake system and exhaust
• Clutch calibration – ensures engine RPM’s are kept as low as possible
• Reduced overall vehicle drag in drive line
• Optimized fuel mixture efficiency at all RPM’s and throttle pedal opening – thanks to the iTC system
• Fuel completely cut when coasting ( throttle release )
• Optimized gear ratios
Again, this is a great example of our engineering team here in Valcourt working with the Rotax engineers in Austria to produce the best engine performance in the industry. Power, combined with fuel efficiency mean the best of both worlds for the customer.
Thanks for your time, Luc!
Can-Am Off-Road Team