Shiny Side Up: Market share and makers

Mark Boncher Editor
This column is going to get me fired one day, but I will continue to say that WE NEED to have 4 manufacturers! The snowmobile biz is not big, and the rise of Ski-Doo as the top manufacturer over the last decade is great news. But over the long haul, a small market like ours needs support from healthy manufacturers, especially when it comes to things like events and trail systems. When the manufacturers are thriving in a healthy, competitive market it gives consumers, aftermarket and gear companies, snow destination areas, and all the ancillary entities that depend on snowmobiling more options. For the longevity of the sport we need new ideas, new blood, and more equal competition to spur investment.

On the bright side, I see some new ideas and gainful competition happening, helped by savvy business, and with a little help from a solid economy. Polaris in particular is poised to challenge for the top OEM spot by making smart products that target a broad range of snow-loving consumers and by focusing on re-involving the family. The Polaris lineup has something for everyone and they are embracing the market on a peer-to-peer level like no other OEM.

In addition, with Textron taking over Arctic Cat I see some positive synergies happening with more resources available and a rekindled passion for focusing on what the rider is doing and saying. The joint venture between Cat and Yamaha has also paid off as we have seen the unveiling of the ZR200 / Snoscoot, and the addition of the hypersled Thundercat / Sidewinder. Both of these and the efficient 7000 motor (built by Yamaha) rounded out Cat’s lineup quite nicely.

Yamaha is still clawing at the high performance 4-stroke segment, and still has the most reliable sled lineup, but the distance between the #4 manufacturer and the top is a big jump now. Having 4 OEMs who are all relatively equally engaged in the market is obviously the best case scenario. We’ve seen lots of ups and downs in this market over the years and 2019 model year is no different.

As always, keep riding folks and it is only a little over a month now until most of us start to hit the snow!

Mark Boncher, Editor
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