Who Invented the ATV?

by Contributor

The ATV, or all terrain vehicle, is also commonly called a three- or four-wheeler. The American National Standards Institute defines an ATV as "a vehicle that travels on low pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control." ATVs were created in the mid-twentieth century to handle a variety of terrain and have evolved into a popular recreational vehicle.

ATV Beginnings

In the mid-twentieth century, the Japanese created early ATVs to aid farmers. Japanese farmers used three-wheeled vehicles to pass over rough, hilly and muddy terrain to enable them to take goods into town.

ATVs in the USA

In 1967, Honda in America wanted a product to sell during winter months when sales of motorcycles lagged. Honda R&D decided the perfect product would be a vehicle similar to the one Japanese farmers had been using.

ATV Production

In 1970, Honda introduced its first all-terrain vehicle to the United States. The US90 was a three-wheeled vehicle with a 7-horsepower, 4-speed engine. The US90 was sold in the United States for $595.

Four-wheeled ATVs

In 1983, Suzuki produced the first four-wheeled ATV. Suzuki called this new vehicle the QuadRunner LT125. The QuadRunner LT125 had five speeds and an odometer, along with reverse.

Safety Concerns

In the mid-1980s the United States government raised safety concerned for riders of three-wheeled ATVs. In 1988, production of three-wheelers stopped. In response, the industry begins to set safety standards and programs for ATVs and riders.

Four-wheel Production

In 1988, Honda began production of the FourTrax 300 and the FourTrax300 4x4. This became one of history's biggest selling ATVs with nearly 600,000 units sold.