Yamaha Exiting A Segment Where It was Dominant

It is isn’t motorcycles so get alarmed yet. Yamaha has announced that it is leaving the snowmobile business as of just about now. In fact in Japan, the 2022 model year was the last to hit showrooms. In Europe it will be the 2024 model year which is about to be released and in North America it will be the 2025 model year. Whether that model year will consist of only remaining 2024 stock was not announced but that is the situation that the Japanese market finds itself in. Why is this significant to any but snowmobile aficionados?

It is because Yamaha was no recent player in the snowmobile market. Their first snowmobile was introduced in 1968. With the arrival of the 2024 product, that history represents 56 years of continuous innovation and technological advance within all segments of the snowmobile market from sport to leisure to work. Yamaha was a force behind the offering of four stroke engines in snowmobiles.

Yamaha's first snowmobile in 1968

But after all that and commanding a sizeable share of the market, the company states that “it will be difficult to continue a sustainable business in the snowmobile market”. There would be factors that lead to such decisions. Some might include the fact there is simply less snow than there use to be in many places, another is that many folks realized they could ride their four wheel atvs in the snow and once the snow was gone they could keep on riding. Not so much with a snowmobile.

a 2016 performance snowmobile from Yamaha

Yamaha states  the company will focus on “current business activities and new growth markets”. Does that mean a big new push on motorcycles? We doubt it. A big new push on urban mobility perhaps – electric bicycles and scooters. That we can see happening in the short term but particularly in Europe for the scooters with a little more attention on electric bicycles in North America. If you haven’t noticed, some of those electric bicycles sell for the same price and some motorcycles. ATVs and SxSs will likely get some attention in North America.

We don’t know if this is a shifting of tides, … but it does kind of feel like it.


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