On June 28, 2023,Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announced plans for an eventual withdrawal of the snowmobile business. The 2024 model year will be the final for available production in the European market, while North America’s final production will be the 2025 model year. Yamaha shared some talking points with the media, which may clear up any “speculations” and help all who read it to have a better understanding of their tough decision. (Included below)
Personally, it bums me out to see Yamaha leave, as I’ve been a lifelong fan of all their products, and many of their snowmobiles stirred my imagination as a youth and drew me closer to this industry.
I’ve been hit with a fair amount of questions (Some thoughtful, some completely ridonculous) on what this will mean for Arctic Cat going forward given the two companies have had a relatively longstanding relationship.
Digging through my archives, I found a press release I had written in 2013 when working for Arctic Cat, which outlined some of the milestone relationship dates with Yamaha. Ive also included that below, and think you’ll enjoy re-reading the release like I did. At the very end of this post, I’ll give you some of MY thoughts (strictly my opinions) to answer some of the general questions I’ve received/heard/seen.
YAMAHA’S TALKING POINTS SHARED WITH MEDIA
1. History of the Yamaha Business and Reasons for Withdrawal
In 1968, Yamaha released its first snowmobile, the SL350, by applying small engine technology which it developed in the motorcycle business. Over the past 55 years, Yamaha developed snowmobiles for sports, leisure, and business use as a means of transportation mainly in snowy areas found in North America and Europe. Yamaha also aimed to grow the business through the early introduction of environmentally-friendly 4-stroke models and alliances with other companies. However, Yamaha has concluded it will be difficult to continue a sustainable business in the snowmobile market. Going forward, Yamaha will concentrate management resources on current business activities and new growth markets.
2. Future Actions
Yamaha will ensure parts availability, service, and related customer satisfaction now and after the snowmobile final production run occurs. Production of the recently introduced 2024 models is underway and scheduled for fall delivery. Yamaha distributors will be working closely with dealers to minimize impact and best position their business over the next 12 – 36 months.
3. Impact on Business Performance
Due to the exit schedule outlined above, the effect on consolidated business results will be minor.
Yamaha snowmobile dealers and customers throughout the world have proven to be among the most passionate. Yamaha thanks and cherishes all for their years of loyalty and shared enjoyment of this special winter pastime.
Why is Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd Japan (YMC), exiting the snowmobile market?
After careful consideration, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. regretfully made the business decision to focus on higher volume product groups and increase investment in identified growth markets.
How long will Yamaha Motor continue selling snowmobiles?
The 2025 model year will be the last year of Yamaha snowmobile sales in North America. The season will follow the traditional snowmobile schedule through the winter of 2024, at which point there will NOT be a 2026 model year or Spring Power Surge.
Where does a customer get their Yamaha snowmobile serviced?
Yamaha dealers will continue to provide service and parts for Yamaha snowmobiles.
How long will Yamaha supply parts for current or future year Yamaha snowmobiles?
Yamaha Motor is committed to an advanced parts procurement to supply customer demands for years to come.
What about existing deposits for Spring Power Surge?
There is no change to the 2024MY Spring Power Surge. 2024MY deliveries are scheduled to start in the fall of 2023.
How will Yamaha handle warranty fulfillment, either factory or extended?
Yamaha will honor all warranty for the entire term period which was agreed upon at time of purchase.
Will Yamaha ever get back into the snowmobile business?
With this decision, there are no future plans to return to the snowmobile business.
How is Yamaha supporting their dealers during this transition?
Each dealer’s business situation is unique. Yamaha will work with dealers to best position each dealer for continued success in the next 24 – 36 months while focusing on existing product groups and expansion of new opportunities.
How is Yamaha supporting their customers during this transition?
Yamaha’s direction is to continue offering sales, service, parts and warranty up to and including the 2025 model year line of snowmobiles. Current customers can expect the same level of customer support they have traditionally received.
Will Yamaha continue to offer industry support and attend snowmobile events and consumer shows?
Promotional activities are reviewed, planned and budgeted for annually. Yamaha will make decisions about support for these activities on an individual basis.
Arctic Cat Announces Engine and Co-Brand Agreements with Yamaha Motor Corporation
Combining Arctic Cat’s snowmobile chassis and suspension with the leading 4-stroke engines lead to an exciting future
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 20, 2013
Plymouth, MN – Arctic Cat Inc. has entered into an engine supply agreement with Yamaha Motor Corporation to expand its purchase of snowmobile engines starting in the 2014 model year. Arctic Cat initially entered into an agreement to purchase the Yamaha 123cc 4-stroke engines for their youth snowmobile in 2009. This agreement has now been expanded to include select 4-stroke engines from Yamaha.
Arctic Cat’s Snow Division VP/GM, Brad Darling said, “The engine purchasing agreement with Yamaha, combined with the engines we plan to manufacture in-house, will provide our consumers with the most well-rounded engine choices when it comes to technology, reliability and horsepower.”
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Claude Jordan, stated, “Our current Arctic Cat snowmobile chassis is renowned for its lightweight, bump control and precision handling. Combine that with our performance engine options from Yamaha, as well as our state-of-the-art engine manufacturing facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and we guarantee there will be exciting years ahead for Arctic Cat enthusiasts.”
In addition to expanding the engine supply agreement with Yamaha, Arctic Cat has also entered into an agreement to build select Yamaha snowmobiles in their Thief River Falls, MN factory per Yamaha’s specifications. This agreement started in 2012 with Arctic Cat building the Yamaha SRX 120 youth model snowmobile and will now be expanded to include full size performance snowmobiles starting with model year 2014. These snowmobiles will be built to Yamaha specifications using Yamaha 4-stroke engines.
Regarding Yamaha, Jordan goes on to say, “We are very excited how this relationship continues to grow and the opportunities that lie ahead for both companies. Going forward we believe this relationship will provide tremendous value to Arctic Cat, our customers, our dealers and our shareholders.”
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR ARCTIC CAT – ARCTICINSIDER’S OBSERVATIONS AND OPINIONS SHARED
WHY HASN’T ARCTIC CAT SAID ANYTHING?
The big news shared from Yamaha is THEIR corporate information and messaging to share, NOT Arctic Cat’s. Business continues as usual for Arctic Cat.
DID TEXTRON PULL THE PLUG ON YAMAHA?
Based on the information presented from Yamaha, I’d say No. Yamaha pulled the plug on Yamaha. “After careful consideration, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. regretfully made the business decision to focus on higher volume product groups and increase investment in identified growth markets.”
WILL YAMAHA SUPPLY ENGINES TO ARCTIC CAT AFTER 2025?
That answer is unknown. Anyone following this site, or the industry through other sources, knows Arctic Cat (and other OEMs) historically haven’t shared plans for future product information. Not a shocker.
I’ll insert my personal opinion again – I’m a believer we can learn from history, and Arctic Cat has navigated these waters before. Let’s take a look at what we know.
Arctic Cat had a longstanding engine relationship with Suzuki (2- and 4-stroke engines). When the Suzuki relationship ended, everyone thought it was the end of the world (like some of you are right now) and Arctic Cat shifted to designing and building their own C-TEC2 engines in St. Cloud, Mn. Then the Yamaha relationship was introduced to supply four-stroke engines. Now, Yamaha will be leaving.
Will another four-stroke engine supplier come along or will four-strokes disappear from Arctic Cat line-up? Again, none of us knows. With four-strokes occupying a strong percentage of the market, I doubt they’ll disappear.
More of what we know – Textron owns an engine company and a state-of-the-art engine manufacturing facility. They recently designed and built the all-new 600cc 4-stroke engine for the Alterra line of ATVs, a new 600 2-stroke for the CATALYST snowmobile platform, and we’re all expecting a bigger-bore 2-stroke for the CATALYST in the near future.
Past Arctic Cat CEO, Chris Twomey was told, “You’ll never be able to manufacture engines cheaper than Suzuki.” He chuckled and replied, “You’re right. But we can manufacture them cheaper than buying from Suzuki.”
I always loved that response, and time will tell if we are entering a similar “Control our own destiny” situation for all Arctic Cat engines.