Yamaha To Exit The Snowmobile Market In Model Year 2025

2024 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE
2024 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE

The rumors are finally true. Model year 2025 will be the last for Yamaha snowmobiles, as the brand will exit the market altogether. It will leave behind a 57-year history that started with the 1968 SL350 and will end with a model lineup dominated by turbocharged Sidewinder four-strokes. In between, Enticers and Exciters, Phazers and Vmaxes, multiple generations of exciting and innovative SRX models and much, much more fulfilled dreams of snowmobilers across the Snowbelt.

That’s coming to an end. Yamaha’s focus will shift, company officials said, to other business interests.

   The announcement, made June 28, 2023, came right from the top. In a press release, Yamaha Motor Corporation of Iwata, Japan, said it had “concluded it will be difficult to continue a sustainable business in the snowmobile market.

   “Going forward, Yamaha will concentrate management resources on current business activities and new growth markets,” the release continued. The brand’s side-by-side, marine, motorcycle and ebike lines are the likely beneficiaries of snowmobilers’ loss.

   During a hastily called teleconference hosted from a hotel in Ottawa, Ontario, leaders of Yamaha’s North American Snowmobile Division spoke in rather muted tones. They were clearly shaken personally by the decision.

   “We’ve been trying everything we can from a North American snowmobile team perspective to make sure this business can stay within our portfolio,” said Jaret Smith, Yamaha’s snowmobile product manager. “We’ve been working very hard over the last few years here trying to ensure we have something viable and did everything we could to try to save this business.”

   Most of the brand’s 2024 model lineup has already been built or is currently being built by Textron/Arctic Cat. Therefore, this will have no effect on snowmobiles already ordered by consumers and dealers for this coming winter, explained Bryan Hudgin, Yamaha Canada’s director of marketing & brand development.

      A full 2025 Yamaha lineup will also be announced as scheduled early next year. That will then be the end for Yamaha snowmobiles in North America. In Europe, the end will come sooner with the 2024 lineup.

     Company officials also set out to assure customers and dealers that parts, service and warranty functions will remain in place even after the whole goods are gone.

Yamaha Snowmobiles: Some Context

Yamaha’s relative level of commitment to the snowmobile market has long been questioned by some snowmobiling insiders. When the brand began partnering with rival Arctic Cat in model year 2014 to have that company build most of its performance models, those rumors got louder.

   The closure of Yamaha’s Wisconsin R&D facility announced in 2021 raised more eyebrows. Then, when the brand unveiled a 2024 model lineup that included no Yamaha-exclusive utility machines built in Japan, the writing appeared to be on the wall. With very few product development people on staff, no unique whole goods that didn’t have sister machine from Arctic Cat and market share in the low single digits, survival seemed unlikely.

   Still, even with all that evidence, the announcement of the exit from snowmobiling is still jarring for many people. That includes Yamaha employees and dealers, snowmobile media, collectors and everyday riders. The last full-scale brand to leave the market was John Deere in model year 1984. That was 40 years ago, during Ronald Reagan’s first term.

   Lynx’s addition in North America in the last couple of seasons keeps the sport at four brands. But the relationship of Ski-Doo and Lynx under the BRP umbrella has some questioning whether there are now three or four sled makers.

Yamaha officials said they could not comment on the length of time that Yamaha is contractually obligated to provide engines to Arctic Cat/Textron.

Yamaha Snowmobiles: A Business Decision

Hudgin took snowmobile media through the brand’s expected frequently asked questions (FAQs) to describe the situation.

   “The first and biggest question is why is Yamaha exiting the snowmobile market,” Hudgin said. “We regretfully made this decision to focus on higher-volume product groups and increase investment in identified growth markets.

    “On a global scale, it’s something that Yamaha Motor Corporation is looking at constantly and whether or not the volume is there that is required, and whether the growth in the market and the industry is big enough to continue with that,” Hudgin continued. “They’ve decided to focus on either current industries where we’ve got more success or invest in identified growth markets.”

    There were many factors at place. The limited growth in the snowmobile market and Yamaha’s relatively small position in that market were certainly important.

One big factor that some folks might miss, though, is the demise of snowmobile sales in Russian, Smith said. The Russian market topped 30,000 units as recently as 2014, and it was growing rapidly. Yamaha had a dominant position in the Russian market, particularly with its VK540 and VK Professional utility snowmobiles. Economic conditions and embargoes related to Russia’s moves into Ukraine has cratered the Russians snowmobile market, and taken sales of out-of-country snowmobiles to zero.

   Hudgin stressed that there are two model years left (2024 and 2025). He said customers can continue to expect a high level of support from the brand going forward.

   “We are very committed to this,” Hudgin said. “We want to make sure our customers are taken care of if they bought a Yamaha in the past or if they continue to buy them in the future. There will be years of parts supply for them to rely upon.” Warrantees will also be continued to their full term, he said. 

    The brand also pledged to work with its roughly 500 worldwide snowmobile dealers to help them transition to life beyond sleds, Hudgin and Smith said. Furthermore, no layoffs are planned because of this decision.

    “It’s a bit of a shock, but the nice thing about Yamaha is that there are nine different products lines that we can all sort of start to divert resources to and make sure we’re giving those the proper attention they deserve,” Hudgin said. “No staff are going to lose their jobs, they’ll just sort of be reassigned and we’re going to move forward.”

Yamaha Snowmobile FAQs

Here’s the full FAQ document from Yamaha that was shared with the snowmobile media. It will also be posted on various Yamaha websites:

FAQ

Please see below for information concerning Yamaha Motor Co, Ltd.’s eventual withdrawal from the snowmobile market.

  • Why is Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd Japan (YMC), exiting the snowmobile market?
    • After careful consideration, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. regretfully made the business decision to focus on higher volume product groups and increase investment in identified growth markets.
  • How long will Yamaha Motor continue selling snowmobiles?
    • The 2025 model year will be the last year of Yamaha snowmobile sales in North America. The season will follow the traditional snowmobile schedule through the winter of 2024. At which point there will NOT be a 2026 model year Spring Power Surge.
  • Where does a customer get their Yamaha snowmobile serviced?
    • Yamaha dealers will continue to provide service and parts for Yamaha snowmobiles.
  • How long will Yamaha supply parts for current or future year Yamaha snowmobiles?
    • Yamaha Motor is committed to an advanced parts procurement to supply customer demands for years to come.
  • What about existing deposits for Spring Power Surge?
    • There is no change to the 2024MY Spring Power Surge. 2024MY deliveries are scheduled to start in the fall of 2023.
  • How will Yamaha handle warranty fulfillment, either factory or extended?
    • Yamaha will honor all warranty for the entire term period which was agreed upon at time of purchase.
  • Will Yamaha ever get back into the snowmobile business?
    • With this decision, there are no future plans to return to the snowmobile business.
  • How is Yamaha supporting their dealers during this transition?
    • Each dealer’s business situation is unique. Yamaha will work with dealers to best position each dealer for continued success in the next 24 – 36 months while focusing on existing product groups and expansion of new opportunities.
  • How is Yamaha supporting their customers during this transition?
    • Yamaha’s direction is to continue offering sales, service, parts and warranty up to and including the 2025 model year line of snowmobiles. Current customers can expect the same level of customer support they have traditionally received.
  • Will Yamaha continue to offer industry support and attend snowmobile events and consumer shows?
    • Promotional activities are reviewed, planned and budgeted for annually. Yamaha will make decisions about support for these activities on an individual basis.

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34 thoughts on “Yamaha To Exit The Snowmobile Market In Model Year 2025

  • Avatar for Matt

    That’s too bad to hear. I wonder if they will still supply the 4 stroke engine for Arctic cat?

    Reply
    • Avatar for Aaryn J Swanson

      Definitely the question our team will be asking. We understand the situation, just hoping the “arguably best engine in the market” lives long past 2025.

      Reply
    • Avatar for Viking

      As long as it is based on a bike motor or at least a SxS motor they will for sure. But lets face it the very near future will be electric or hydrogen.

      Fortunately all the Japanese bike manufactures have gotten together to R&D develop hydrogen engines (just announced this month) because in ORV industry you need to use existing fueling infrastructure and have the ability to have high performance and long fuel range in extreme cold climate, electric just doesn’t cut it now and maybe / likely never will.

      Reply
    • Avatar for Bob

      At one time 1982 83 yamaha was thinking then maybe leaving after the SRX 1981,82 Fiasko but decided to release a new Model The VMAX 540 and Scrap the Crated and unsold 1982 and Recalled the 1981 and scrapped the Engines but the VMAX was a Success and life Was Good and they Sold like Hotcakes but now Times had Changed and ATV and Side by Sides are now Taking Over it was aGood Run

      Reply
  • Avatar for Jimmy

    Very very sad. No good for the industry and a shame to see such a rich history come to a end.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Eric B.

    I am bummed, sick feeling. As John wrote, the writing was on the wall, it was incrementally heading this way, but I’m still bummed. Let us all spend money on the sport we love!

    Reply
  • Avatar for Randy jedneak

    Always had Yamaha products sxs snowmobile grizzlies motorcycle they never brake down as far as I am concerned they make the best products fit finish over the top every one wants a lighter sled probally I got a 2017 vector level my track it’s heavy but still fun to drive love my 2022 rmax 2 limited little loud but so what ear protection works fine thank you

    Reply
  • Avatar for Ken Irvin

    The reliability of the product is unbelievable, if they had put there full technical support into the product they would have had the best snowmobile on the market.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    Very sad day in the snowmobile industry.

    I really liked Yamaha sleds and all of the innovation they brought (oil injection on first sled 25 years ahead of many other brands/models), powerful high performance and mid performance four stroke sleds, OHLIN shocks on sleds, winning with 440cc sleds vs other brands 800 cc sleds at Eagle River in the 1970’s, great funny TV ads Johnny Skeptical and Honey, great styling, VMAX 4, Sales leader with ET Phazer, SRV, and SS 440 awesome race sleds GPX, SRX, SSR. Yamaha was in first place for sales back when they knew the heart of the market small and mid sized fan and free air motors 250 cc- 540 cc.

    Yamaha was and is a great brand and great sled. All sledheads should be very sad today.

    Reply
    • Avatar for David Verch

      Pickup my first riding forward sled last Feb, 2020 srx WHAT A MACHINE , also have 17 other collectibles but glad I could finish on a Yamaha.

      Reply
    • Avatar for Viking

      Typo Bunny not Honey as she was Johnny’s snow bunny.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    According to Bryan Hudgin, director of marketing and brand development for Yamaha Canada, Hudgin and his team spoke with dealers before the news was released to the media. “What’s clear to us is that each of our dealer’s businesses is unique. For some dealers, snowmobiles are about 5 to 10 percent of their business; for other dealers, it’s 50 to 60 percent, so we’re working with them over the course of the next two to three years to make sure we can continue our relationship with them. But each one is unique, and we’ve got to work with each of them individually to make sure we’re putting them in the best status as well as ourselves to move forward.”

    Reply
  • Avatar for David Verch

    Glad I finished my 18 sled collection or maybe not lol,with a 2020 srx what a machine my first riding up right sled. Thanks Yamaha 😊

    Reply
  • Avatar for Snomanco

    WTF Yamaha?
    Well, Yamaha’s New Slogan should be “Breaks Your Heart.” I feel gut punched. It’s like a death in the family. I guess I saw the writing on the wall over the last 5 years but didn’t want to believe it. Still can’t.
    Yamaha should have listened to the consumer/dealers. We ALL told them what we wanted. Hell, I’ve been telling them for over 25 years, but they didn’t listen. I’ve submitted 100’s of ideas on what they should build and what I wanted to buy. I’ve been a Yamaha loyal for 50 years. So many sleds and so many cherished and wonderful memories. I was always dreaming about the next sled they would release.
    I’m sad and frustrated. So don’t believe what they said in the article ether. I’m not one for bashing, but I must toss the Bullshit flag on these. These are the biggest Bullshit statements ever… “We’ve been trying everything we can from a North American snowmobile team perspective to make sure this business can stay within our portfolio,” said Jaret Smith, Yamaha’s snowmobile product manager. “We’ve been working very hard over the last few years here trying to ensure we have something viable and did everything we could to try to save this business.” GTFOAH. (If you don’t know what that means then watch Eddy Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop)
    I started snowmobiling when I was 5 in 1970 on a Homelite Ranger, then our family got a 1972 Yamaha 292. I rode the you-know-what out of that one, then my brothers 433. I saved money and got a 1978 Enticer. That one was like my first car if you know what I mean…it was Freedom. Then I fell in Love with the SRV and bought a 1982 from the dealer. I still have her today.
    50 years and 27 Yamaha sleds later…RIP

    Reply
    • Avatar for Victor Castellano

      Hi Snomanco….
      I feel so sad today to read this and realize that its true now…NO MORE Yamaha sleds…
      My Family has had Yamaha sleds for most the whole time we have been snowmobiling….(1971 in NH)
      Here they are;; ’73 EW433, ’79 Enticer special Twin 300, ’80 Exciter 440, ’80 Enticer 340 Deluxe, ’86 Bravo 250, 2). 82′ Bravo’s 1st year, ’86 Phazer 485, ’79 SRX 440, 2). ’02 Viper 700 Er’s, ’01 SRX 700, ’83 Enticer 300 Deluxe (blue) ’83 Exciter 600 elec. ’94 V-Max 600, 2). ’03 V-max Deluxe ER’s That’s Eighteen Yamaha’s….18) of the Best fit and finished Sled ever made…18) Of the most reliable sleds ever made…
      18) of the most fun for your BUCK sleds ever made…
      What else or what more can i Say… I am So Saddened by this its not funny….I was crying when reading the article all the way through till i began reading all U’s Guy’s comments….
      I’m So So So Sorry and Sad, Broken hearted, to all a Yamaha DieHards…
      R.I.P. Yamaha….
      I guess all LOVE stories have to end some time…. (:-(

      Reply
  • Avatar for Daniel Viau

    Very disappointed I had 12 different models since I started snowmobiling but I saw that coming when there partnership with artic cat began the Yamaha durability wasn’t there anymore except for the engine I won’t buy any Yamaha products anymore Yamaha would probably be # 2 in sales if they would have continued on there own

    Reply
  • Avatar for TheWoodsman

    We use the VK Pro sleds for grooming ski trails. Great, reliable machines as long as you don’t let them get too hot. I can see why the sudden drop in sales to Ruzzia would help kill the brand. 30,000 units per year is A LOT of sleds! (did I read that right?) But let’s face it, Yamaha has never made a competitive western powder sled. Ever. Ignoring that market must have hurt as well. Just my observation, you also don’t find many rental fleets full of Yamaha touring sleds for some reason, despite their reliability. Seems like a missed opportunity there.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Randy

    Bad decision from Yamaha, Most people will buy other brands. I have had 4 Yamaha snowmobiles, 2 Ski Doo, I almost got out of snowmobiling when I had the Ski Doo’s. they always left me stranded and high cost to repair, I had friends who rode Yamaha’s with just the usual wear parts needed. I got a 1979 250 Enticer not sure how many miles never did any motor work on it, Passed it on to my Kids Got a New 1991 Phazer passed it in to my Kid he sold it in 2015 with 11,000, miles on it no motor work done on it, just a new track. In 1998 got a vmax 500 XTC I have 14,000 miles on it with 5000 on my top end of the motor and it still runs strong, My son has a 2014 Viper with 14,000 miles on it no work on motor, just the Arctic cat problems. so looks like they were just made TOO GOOD. not enough of them sold. I won’t waste my money on any other brand!!!

    Reply
  • Avatar for JOHN DUKOVIC

    Arctic Cat has had a long history with Suzuki that will hopefully rekindle. My 2002 Thundercat 1000 two stroke triple is still running flawlessly after 25,791 miles. The 12mpg hurts at the pumps 🤪

    Reply
    • Avatar for Viking

      Also a long history with Kawasaki started in ~1973 basically all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers except Honda.

      Reply
      • Avatar for That Old Guy

        Actually Arctic started working with Kawasaki in 1970. They used the 292 single in some of the first year Puma racers and did some protos with the T1 series twins. Long retired racer Jim Dimmerman recently did an article that states the big reason they went with Kawasaki during the boom years was because Kawasaki could build all the engines they wanted and they wanted their business and agreed to an exclusive deal. 100,000 sleds a year baby. Those were the days. The last Cat with a Kawasaki was the limited production 1976 Lynx FA 250 twin. They basically used up the leftover 1975 model parts to get a kids sled out the door. All the rest were Suzuki Spirits for 1976 except for the Kohler 250 LC race engine in the 1976 250 Z oval sled. For 1977 models it was Suzuki only, even in the race sleds. Took a couple years to design build and switch over everything. Kawasaki wanted to make their own sleds after the Cat contract ended and bought out Snojet.

        Reply
        • Avatar for Viking

          Absolutely right that for the post interesting info. I read an article like that as well stating Kawasaki was the only place where they could get 100,000 engines. Yet Cat annual sales back then was basically what the entire industry produces now for the last few decades. SnoJets were awesome especially the ThunderJets and the Kawasaki Invaders.

          Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    Textron owns company that built the Polaris 750 FS with 145hp. The motor now is an 800 and it can be up-sized to be bigger. Cat has lots of options if Yamaha can’t or won’t build their four strokes including building their own four stroke like they do for ATVs and SxSs. It is too big a market to overlook.

    I believe Yamaha will continue to work with AC.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Anthony Cas

    Rip Yamaha bad decision you didn’t do your loyal customers right….All about the money and the Russian market hurting you what about us?

    Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the snowmobile market was projected to easily exceed 1,000,000 units i.e almost 10 times what it is now as stated in the media.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    Yamaha has a chance to showcase all the historical great sleds they have in the 2025 model year bring back the sales leaders such as the:

    ET / Enticer 250 and 300 later changed to the Bravo and Transporter,
    the SS 440,
    the SRV
    the Exciters / EX 340 /440, 500 & 600
    the SX 700 (redhead)
    VK 540 workhorse
    the Apex,
    the Vector

    don’t just do several models of the Sidewinder.

    There many hundred thousands or million of loyal fans will and even buyers of competitor sleds will buy them.

    Reply
  • Avatar for DW

    Makes sense that Cat brought back the ZR7000 for ‘24. Need to use up the engines that will not fit in the new Catalyst chassis. Regional “brown” winters, participation costs and land closures are very challenging to the future of snowmobiling as a whole.

    Reply
  • Avatar for John Ehlert

    Sad news for Mel Callaway, Kurt Degener, Ron Solberg and other passionate Yamaha leaders. But, even the Trapps switched…

    Reply
  • Avatar for Stephen Janaitis

    I believe that when the 2025 spring roll out, it will be vey limited build. My guess is about 450 units.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    If they build a lot of Vectors they will sell them maybe use the Anniversary colors of red and white like they did in the past for the last Apex. They could bring back the Apex and it will sell.

    They will use up all of the old inventory they have for sure and make more it wail be a a success for Yamaha going out in a swan song.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    Snowmobile sales likely will have a boost in late 2023 and in 2024 due to the Barbie movie in which a snowmobile is one of the five transportation methods need to cross from Barbie-land to the real world and from the real world back to Barbie-land. 1956 Corvette, tandem bike, rocket ship, speed boat, snowmobile and barbie camper.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Roy

    When Yamaha introduced the 440 exciter back in 1976, they were way ahead of anything else out there. I was riding on Horicon marsh and ran into some John Deere people runing an exciter along side a john deere. They admitted that Yamaha exciter was far better than what John Deere had to offer.
    At that time, or near it, John Deere fired all their snowmobile people and hired new ones, trying to build a better sled, only to shut down in 84.

    Reply

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