Yamaha: for when you want to buy a motorcycle, but also a top-end grand piano. It makes just about everything powersports too, but soon, it won't. That's because it's getting out of the snowmobile game after more than half a century.
Yamaha introduced its first snowmobile in 1968, the two-stroke SL350, using knowledge from its existing small engine businesses. Today, it's one of the biggest names in powersports, selling everything from motorcycles to UTVs, boats, golf carts, jetskis, and more—even EV crate motors. Its snowmobile lineup spans 18 models of varying levels of performance and specialties, and even includes models for children.
But that's all coming to a close after model year 2025. On Wednesday, the company stated that it is "difficult to continue a sustainable business" in snowmobiles, and that it will exit to focus on larger markets, particularly those with room for growth. Yamaha states it will continue to sell snowmobiles through model year 2025, and that it will still honor warranties, offer maintenance and service, and supply parts.
It's unclear whether Yamaha's statement refers to the snowmobile market exclusively, or whether it also refers to changing economic, environmental, and legal conditions. Small engines face blanket bans as climate change worsens, owing to their frequent lack of emissions equipment or muffling. Battery-powered alternatives are expensive and imperfect, but they're making inroads on the market nonetheless. Snowmobiles too may face an industry-wide decline in demand as temperatures and weather patterns become less predictable—or an increase that Yamaha doesn't foresee.
Even if they remain stable, worries of a recession may cause consumers to balk at paying $4,000 to $21,000 on a vehicle only usable during brief periods of the year. That's not stopping folks from paying even more for a UTV or side-by-side, but those are good to go any time of year with the right tires. Snowmobiles? Unless you're using yours for drag racing, it's for only winter wonderlands or the garage.
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