Yamaha Shifts More Focus To Canada-Based Snowmobile HQ

2022 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX GT snowmobile
2022 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX GT with power steering

More control of Yamaha’s global decision-making related to snowmobiling is being shifted to the brand’s Yamaha North America Snowmobile Division offices in Ontario. The move will result in less influence from the Japanese Yamaha headquarters and also an eventual closing of the brand’s R&D Center in Wisconsin – Yamaha announced in a press release on July 15.

The press release – posted in its entirety below – cites a desire to streamline operations of the snow group while also de-centralizing some of the personnel who currently report to the Minocqua, Wisconsin, facility.

In a followup email, Yamaha National Marketing Manager Bryan Hudgin confirmed that the Wisconsin R&D center – long the hub of snowmobile development and testing for the brand – “will undergo a gradual winding down of operations” that would conclude at the end of the first quarter of 2022. “Some of these functions will move to Canada, but we aim to maintain U.S.-based personnel. They simply wouldn’t be working at the actual facility,” he said.

Meanwhile, folks from the Japan-based parent Yamaha Motor Company (YMC) who had previously worked on snowmobile products here in North America (often times on assignment to Minocqua) will now either be based out of the Toronto-area office or will work remotely throughout Canada and the U.S., we were told.

“The North American Snowmobile Division will take on more authority and decision-making with respect to the product group and future direction,” Hudgin said.

Many on the Internet who have long predicted a Yamaha exit from the snowmobile market should take note that the press release stated that Yamaha “will continue working with OEM suppliers to invest in the snowmobile industry and explore opportunities to expand its presence in the supply of durable and reliable Yamaha powerplants” and said the brand “looks forward to the launch of the 2023 models” after particularly robust spring orders this past year.

Here’s that Yamaha press release.


July 15, 2021 – Yamaha Motor Co., LTD. has announced that additional snowmobile product line responsibilities will be transferred to the Yamaha North American Snowmobile Division, effective July 15, 2021.

The majority of functions handled by Japan’s Yamaha Motor Co., LTD. and its Research & Design Facility in Wisconsin will now be undertaken by Yamaha’s North American Snowmobile Division, offering further in-market calibration, maneuverability and efficiency.

The objective is to streamline Yamaha’s snowmobile business operations and fully utilize the flexibility offered by technology and remote work. As the Wisconsin facility transitions, key personnel are invited to remain with the company, working remotely across the US and Canada as part of the North American Division.

“I’m proud of the progress the North American Snowmobile Division has made since our inception in 2014. Yamaha Motor Co., LTD. has witnessed our growth and is now entrusting us with the complete management of the global snowmobile business,” commented Peter Smallman-Tew, Team Leader for the North American Snowmobile Division. “The last year and a half has shown that business can and will need to adapt to a remote working model. We will have the appropriate people in the right places – the hotbeds of the snowmobile market – to ensure our future success.”

The Yamaha North American Snowmobile Division will continue working with OEM suppliers to invest in the snowmobile industry and explore opportunities to expand its presence in the supply of durable and reliable Yamaha power plants.

Yamaha is preparing for a busy and exciting 2021/22 season after a record-breaking Spring Power Surge early deposit program, and looks forward to the launch of the 2023 models.

9 thoughts on “Yamaha Shifts More Focus To Canada-Based Snowmobile HQ

  • Avatar for James Metko

    I’ve long been a Yamaha owner of waverunners and snowmobiles. The Power plants are second to no-one.
    The development of the watercraft over the years has been most impressive. However the near and dear to my heart snowmobiles leave a totally different perspective. Since the introduction of the Viper and Sidewinder models, the overall innovation has been almost non-existent. The model line-up for 2022 is to say the best is lack luster, not to mention colors and graphics are plan ugly. Has anyone been seeing what the other brands are producing?
    Based on attending this year’s snow show, where has been the leadership for a once industry leader?
    You claim to being committed to snowmobiles however there really isn’t any proof of that. It will be a sad day if Yamaha drops out of the mix.

    • Avatar for Michael J Payeur

      Been a yami guy since MY 1999.
      Quality build/reliability/durability/day to day consistency of operation is second to noone! Ergos and ride compliance however was always their weakness.
      Owned many diff models. I’m def a 4 stroke guy. Currently ride a 2011 apex xtx. Still runs like its brand new. However, next sled will not likely be a yami. Have never mounted a yami-cat but was told by several people it does not have the quality feel of a Japanese-made yami. Ski doo is where its at now.
      They have a good selection of models/engine choices, etc. However, you won’t get the jap made yami build quality. Expedition SE with ace 900 non turbo in my sights. Renegade adrenaline with ace 900 non turbo for grandson.
      In closing, there needs to be a serious discussion with manufacturers/dealers businesses and other significant organizations to re-energize this sport and offer a convenient/affordable way for people (especially city folk) to get out and ride. It can and needs to be done.
      I have some ideas but this mssg is getting long.
      Mike Payeur

  • Avatar for mervyn jennett

    yamaha snowmobiles have been at the top because they are built to last ski-doo & polaris build their sleds for glamer colours & you don,t have to stand up all day to keep the light weight sleds right side up the sled i own 2015 viper orange & blue the engine is indistructable most owners will never wear them out , yamaha sleds are the best spent money far more for the dollar.

    • Avatar for Caramatkid

      A long time Polaris rider but want to try 4 stroke.Hopin my 22 Viper LTX GT comes in before all the snow melts.Yamaha is being very hush hush on delivery dates.

    • Avatar for Guy

      They are not a snowmobile maker, putting a sticker on an artic cat doesn’t make you a snowmobile company.

  • Avatar for Brian Dennis

    I’ve a long time Yamaha fan, started snowmobiling around 1969-70 and rode all the brands till 1993 when I purchased my first Yamaha Phazer II. To be honest in 1991 I purchased a A/C and there was a Phazer II sitting along it, I thought it was the ugliest machine out there. The next season I owned one, (“WTH”), well long story short, have never looked back. As my family grew and times changed I have owned quite a few Yamaha models, none have ever left my on the trail. For 2022 season I have a Sidewinder LTX GT with Electronic Power Steering. I loved my Vector and Apex’s with EPS so this should be as close to the ultimate sled as one can get. When you take in all the factors, performance, quality, reliability, comfort, resale Yamaha is as good as it gets.

  • Avatar for Matt M

    Having ridden Yamaha for the past 13 year and I would agree that their engines are bulletproof. Can’t say the same about the rest of their components. Numerous sensor failures, reverse gearbox motors, crappy front end handling and year after year of lousy skis. As someone has already pointed out there is almost no innovation with team Blue anymore. Since partnering with AC there is very little distinction between a 4-stroke equipped Yamaha or the same engine in a green sled. Yamaha Powerplants in AC chassis that’s so long overdue for a facelift. I would love to see Yamaha actually make a sled that is entirely there own or just get out of the industry and become an engine supplier. People can bash Skidoo and Polaris all they want, they won’t bash an AC sled because its shares the same DNA as I have already mentioned. Unlike the 2-stroke competition that has upped the ante a lot more than just fancy graphics and shiny colors the sleds are a lot more affordable than most Yamaha sleds. Not too mention people start tinkering with their Sidewinders to get more power out of the already insanely powerful engine and wonder why reliability takes a dump. Plus there are a plethora of 2017 Sidewinders for sale around here making me think they aren’t so great. On a plus side, if and when a Yamaha does break it will cost a lot more to fix and this can become a real headache since AC’s parent company has made some really bad decisions and broke trust with dealers and customers alike. The fact that Yamaha sleds are now Franken Cats is the #1 reason why I ditched my Yamaha and bought a 2020 Polaris. Even with EPS, riding most performance Yamaha sleds is like riding a boat anchor around all day, perhaps if they built their own chassis and utilized the same quality they once did when they built their sleds in Japan then maybe in 10 years time I’ll be back on a Yamaha. Polaris and Skidoo are stealing their market share!

  • Avatar for Gary

    Yamaha is Yamayawn! They couldn’t make a competitive sled.
    All this Canada HQ business is marketing BS. For 15 years, I owned 3 of the recent 4 strokes…poor handling killed them. Yeah sure, they “tried” to improve handling and rider comfort with the EPS, but nothing that couldn’t be accomplished with better engineering and design. Great engines yes, but they were prone to overheating if you weren’t able to ride fast enough and with good snow conditions. A joint venture with Arctic Cat was the final nail in the coffin for me. What does Yamaha’s focus to Canada HQ accomplish so far versus the rebranded Cats, a different shaped windshield? wow

  • Avatar for Tom Madej

    Yamaha needs to build their own snowmobiles. I thought that having Arctic Cat build their sleds was a short term situation so Yamaha could take the time and design their own new chassis’s. Come out with new and innovative components that no one else has. Wrong. Looks like making a certain percentage profit on having someone else build you product is goo enough for Yamaha. Build your own sled or get out of the sled business….we don’t need 2 of the same models with simply different graphics. Just watch out for sue happy Ski Doo….if you make a sled that is similar in color, Frenchy gets mad.


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