When the call came in from Rexburg Motorsports in Rexburg, Idaho, telling us it had a diesel ATV in stock, we were shocked-and very curious. In the diesel-magazine business, we're used to hearing about diesel engines being used in various applications-from land-speed cars to submarines-and we've seen just about every imaginable use for a diesel engine.
This concept is unique because most of the vehicles on the pages of Diesel Power use industrial diesel engines for their power and torque output, and for the most part, these engines are large and heavy. For a diesel engine to be used in an ATV, it must be small, light, and powerful. Naturally, diesel engines are built stronger and heavier than gasoline engines to withstand the pressure from the diesel combustion. Those aren't great attributes in the weight-conscious world of ATVs.
Lightweight Diesel Engine
The 700 Diesel ATV from Arctic Cat answered this power-to-weight ratio challenge with a 686cc (0.6L), inline-two-cylinder diesel made by the Italian manufacturer Lombardini. The Lombardini LDW 702 diesel engine features a 3,600-rpm redline and is typically used in small industrial equipment and generator applications. In the Arctic Cat ATV, the engine is naturally aspirated and fed by a Bosch indirect-injection mechanical fuel system. The 145-pound powerplant is rated at a modest 17.81 hp and 30 lb-ft of torque. At 823 pounds, the whole ATV weighs about 110 pounds more than the 700cc gasoline version.
Built For Utility
The weight and high torque rating will make Arctic Cat's 700 Diesel ATV more suited for utility use than recreation. Arctic Cat plans to market the 700 Diesel ATV for agricultural and industrial applications in markets where diesel fuel is more convenient than gasoline. It's likely these customers will use the Arctic Cat ATV because diesel fuel is readily available on the job site or the farm. Arctic Cat is hoping customers will see the appeal of the 700 Diesel ATV-plus, it will be legal to run tax-free red diesel as long as it's only used off-road.
Military sales are also high on Arctic Cat's agenda with the 700 Diesel ATV, so it's no coincidence the ATV is only available in Army green. Engineers worked closely with Lombardini to ensure the engine would meet all U.S. military fuel specifications. The two-cylinder diesel will run efficiently on six forms of the fuel, including jet fuel and biodiesel.