The unveiling of 2014 Yamaha snowmobiles that will be built by Arctic Cat in Minnesota utilizing many Arctic Cat components (including the base chassis) has caused quite a stir this week in the snowmobile community. Whether it’s on social media, snowmobile site message boards or during pitstop conversations on snowmobile trips, many people seem to have an opinion on what this all means.
Even more people, however, seem to have more questions than answers.
To help shed some light, for this week’s Friday Fast Five here on snowgoer.com, we offer five quotes we heard at the Yamaha North American Dealer Meeting held Wednesday, January 20, in Minneapolis.
At the meeting, Yamaha had corporate executives and engineers from its U.S., Canadian and Japanese headquarters taking turns at the podium, trying to frame this information for the company’s most direct snowmobile customers: its dealers.
To those dealers, Yamaha officials talked about growing the staff at the North American testing and development center in Wisconsin, designing multiple new engines and chassis platforms and promising to grow Yamaha’s market share in the snowmobile business. But for now, we’ll get out of the way and let you read it exactly as it was stated to the dealers.
- Senior Executive Officer & Director of Yamaha Motor Company Japan Mr. Masahiro Takizawa: “Right now, I want to state clearly that Yamaha Motor Corporation is absolutely committed to the long-term snowmobile business in North America and to you, our business partners. Beginning with the 2014 model year, we are embarking on a new strategy, one that is breaking out of our old norm, and one that will make us more competitive in the near term and will ensure a strong future in the industry.”
- President of Yamaha North American Toshi Kato: “I’m very pleased to announce at this time that we are making a significant investment in the U.S. and Canada … We have also put in place new dedicated engineering and production resources for the North American snowmobile dealers by adding staff to our Minocqua [Wisconsin] facility. This will enable us to be closer to our two largest [snowmobile] markets and respond more rapidly to market demand and to continue to produce products beyond our customers’ expectations. Our new focus is on the largest and most profitable segments of the market. This is just the beginning of how we are doing that. Our North American team will continue to design and deliver new products for all segments of the market as we look forward to our 50th Anniversary that will take place in 2018.”
- Vice President of Yamaha Motor Canada & North American Snowmobile Leader Peter Smallman-Tew: “Today’s a very major turning point for Yamaha snowmobiles. In five short years we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary in snowmobiling. During that time, we’ve been innovators, we’ve been leaders, and lately things have been challenging, and we know that. … The North American snowmobile team has a very serious message, and we have a very serious mission. That mission is to reassure Yamaha as a force to be reckoned with in the snowmobile industry and let me tell you we will fight with everything we have to take back our fair share of the market. So how are we going to do that? We’re going to start with a long-term plan and a short-term plan. It all comes from what Mr. Kato said, Mr. Kato created the North American team and this team has a commitment, a commitment to engineering, a commitment to product development through our Minocqua plant, our mission in Minocqua is to develop a new snowmobile each year for the next five years. Partnering with YMC Japan, development is already underway on state-of-the-art four-stroke high-technology snowmobile engines, which will take us into a completely new dimension of performance, and new sled platforms. And did I mention that was engines, plural?”
- Peter Smallman Tew: “We’ve entered into a supply agreement with Arctic Cat, combining the best parts of each other’s DNA. We build the best four-stroke engines in the snowmobile industry bar none, they build arguably some of the best lightweight chassis in the market. Put the two things together and you have one heck of a snowmobile. Let me be very clear here. This is not a merger. They’re two totally separate companies; this is a mutually beneficial supply agreement. Two separate companies. Two independent product development teams, sales and marketing, dealer organizations – completely separate. Next, any product that bears the name Yamaha meets Yamaha’s quality, dependability, reliability [QDR]. Let’s just say that right up front. No matter where it’s built, what product, anywhere in the world, it must meet our QDR and that is the most essential part of Yamaha’s DNA.”
- Peter Smallman-Tew: “We’re fully aware and we deeply respect the challenges that our western, mountain and utility markets are facing, but let me tell you this: our North American team puts us in a much stronger position to develop products for all market segments going further, and like I said earlier, we will be developing snowmobiles and engines in the next five years, each year … We are committed to be a leader in innovation, performance, quality and customer appeal. What you’re about to see is only a small portion of Yamaha’s long-term vision.”