Stories about an international shortage of semiconductor chips have been flooding the airwaves in the past month, as a supply-vs.-demand push and pull has affected everything from the automotive industry and smart phones to personal computers and household appliances.
And, yes, powersports including snowmobiles are affected as well.
In a story on Yahoo Finance Canada, the president and CEO of BRP – maker of Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, Can-Am and more – admitted the challenge last week. At the same time, his words were intended to sooth concerns.
Jose Boisjoli said BRP is continuing to manufacture Ski-Doos and Sea-Doos at the company headquarters in Valcourt, Quebec, but said some of the vehicles are assembled without a key component or two, and then stored in the storage yard while they await the last few parts.
In an era when manufacturers prefer “just-in-time” manufacturing processes – where deliveries of components are timed for when the specific machines that utilize those components are going down the assembly line – the process is not ideal. But the concept of late arriving parts is also not foreign to the company or to snowmobiling — especially within the last year.
Last fall, in fact, many Ski-Doos were shipped to dealers without batteries – the batteries followed later. More notable was the situation Polaris had with its primarily shock manufacturer for its snowmobiles last fall and early winter. Walker Evans got far behind schedule after a pandemic shutdown, and thousands of Polaris snowmobiles were assembled without their front shock absorbers. The shocks were later delivered to dealers for final assembly, but some folks didn’t get their pre-ordered 2021 snowmobiles until well into January.
In the Yahoo Finance article, Boisjoli says, “This case is more complicated than say a plastic part, because we would need to do a technical change that takes a lot of time and requires testing… So we decided to build everything that we know we have an order for and try to deliver the vehicles on time for the riding season… We’re targeting to honor every order that we have from consumers and dealers, but making our life a little bit more complicated with the retrofits.”
As snowmobiles have gotten more complicated, semiconductor chips have become vital to their operation, thanks to their use in everything from the ECU to the gauge. The squeeze on semiconductor chips is expected to last for some time, as the demand remains high but efforts to start new semiconductor facilities takes a lot of time and money.
See information on the 2022 Ski-Doos here.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.