Bad Winter Causes Snowmobile Sales To Trend Downward

snowmobile sales data

After a winter of record warmth and low precipitation across the vast majority of snow-starved North America last season, virtually all observers expected new snowmobile sales to trend downward. Really, the only question was how far south they would slide.

In the U.S., the numbers were surprisingly decent. In Canada? They are rather painful to look at. The numbers in European countries also slid slightly, despite decent snow on that side of the Atlantic Ocean. Other parts of the world picked up some sales.

All totaled, snowmobile sales across the planet for the 2024 selling season dipped 9.7 percent to 112,650 units, according to numbers released recently by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) at the annual International Snowmobile Congress. The event was held this year in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The figures reported by ISMA include sales and delivery of new, model year 2024 snowmobiles plus “non-current” new snowmobiles from recent model years retailed during the 2024 sale season. That season went from May 1, 2023, to April 30, 2024. The figures do not include any spring orders of 2025 snowmobiles.

Looking forward, dealer inventories of unsold new snowmobiles are high, and spring pre-orders this year were sluggish. Therefore, some manufacturers have already announced they are significantly cutting the total number of 2025 units they will build.

Snowmobile Sales Dip In U.S.

Winter got off to a late start across all of the U.S. Snowbelt in the winter of 2023-24. Some parts of the Mountain West eventually received decent snow. But from the Dakotas through Michigan, the Upper Midwest was virtually skunked of ridable snow all winter. Plus, most parts of the Northeast suffered their third subpar winter in a row. In fact, historians are struggling to find a winter that compares in terms of warmth and dryness.

Given all of that background, the U.S. sales figures were surprisingly palatable.

Total U.S. new snowmobile sales were 51,987 units. That represents a 2.97 percent decrease over the 53,553 tallied during the 2023 selling season. For context, new snowmobile sales in the U.S. over the past 15 years have averaged 52,963 per year.

“While the U.S. numbers were down, we could almost completely attribute it to lack of snow,” explained longtime ISMA president Ed Klim, who is retiring and handing the reigns of the organization over to Jaret Smith. “There’s not much you can do when it doesn’t snow.”

In the U.S., the Midwest accounted for 42 percent of total sales, while the West contributed 38 percent and the Northeast notched 20 percent, ISMA reported. Snowmobile registrations sat at a solid 1,214,253 in the U.S., which represents a 4 percent decrease. But considering all of the anecdotal reports of folks not even registering their sleds last year due to winter’s late arrival, Klim said the numbers are decent.

“Overall, that’s not a bad decline considering how poor the snow conditions were,” Klim said. “I look at this as an optimistic outlook. It’s still pretty upbeat as an industry. People want to go snowmobiling, but it’s got to snow! So, start doing your snow dance now.”  

With the horrible (by snowmobilers’ standpoint) winter that was experienced, most knowledgeable industry observers (dealers, aftermarket vendors, investor researchers) were expecting far more dire numbers. Those sort of figures, though, were reserved for north of the international border.

Snowmobile sales data
Sales data from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

Snowmobile Sales Up North? Oh Canada!

In Canada, sales of new snowmobiles plummeted to their second lowest number since 1986. The country reported 38,599 new units sold compared to 48,252 a year earlier. That’s a dramatic 20 percent fall-off and the fewest annual sales reported in Canada since 37,670 new snowmobiles were retailed in model year 2010.

As in the U.S., lack of snowfall was the main factor, particularly in parts of Quebec and Ontario. Those provinces make up the majority of snowmobile sales in the country. Incoming ISMA President Jaret Smith, though, informed us of another factor: a larger impact of higher interest rates due to the differences in ways folks finance homes in Canada vs. the U.S.

Eastern Canada accounted for 44 percent of total sales. Thirty-six percent were attributed to the center of the country and 20 percent to the West.

“I think the Quebecois in some ways were in shock last season, because they pretty much always have snow,” Klim added. Sled registrations in Canada slipped to 555,517 units compared to 618,872 last year.

International Snowmobile Sales Numbers

Snow and cold air was far more plentiful in Scandinavia last winter than on this side of the Atlantic. But sled sales still declined, thanks the economies that are struggling more there than they are over here in these challenging times.

New sled sales in Sweden were 8,931 in the 2024 sales season, keeping it as the sport’s third biggest country after the U.S. and Canada. The 2024 numbers represent a 4 percent decrease compared to 2023. Norway accounted for 4,203 units, which was 17% less than in 2023. A total of 4,141 were sold in Finland, which was a 20 percent drop.

Interestingly, the “Other” category outside of North American showed growth, jumping from 3,419 units in the 2023 sales season to 4,789 in 2024. Klim and Smith both stated that the manufacturers don’t break down where those sales are coming from. Capturing accurate data is made difficult by the fact that such sales typically go through international distributors, Smith explained. He and Klim namechecked China, Japan, Poland and Moldova as locations of some sales. But the sales are truly scattered across the globe, they said.

Overall, the biggest thing missing from the International numbers is the Russian market due to trade embargoes.

“Before they invaded Crimea [in 2014] we were reporting 30,000 units sold in Russia at that point in time,” Klim said. “So, that went from 30,000 to zero. So when you look at the overall international sales, most of the big decline is because the Russian market has disappeared.”

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9 thoughts on “Bad Winter Causes Snowmobile Sales To Trend Downward

  • Avatar for Carlton LaClair

    If it wasn’t for the 8-20 thousand dollars for a sled the numbers would probably be a lot higher.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Tom TeBeest

    This is most obvious to the most casual observer. Sales always dip when winters don’t have much snow. That said, the real die hards are still buying and may wait until the following year when more snow may come to plunk down their hard earned cash. I happened to buy my first brand new sled since 2009. It probably cost twice or nearly three times a sled did in 2009. I only managed to put 160 miles on, but you can bet I’m ready for next winter. I know alot of people are ditching snowmobiling in favor of what seems to be a more year round vehicle like an ATV or UTV. I can’t say that I blame them, but I don’t know in the long run that this will be a great thing for the sport of snowmobiling. Snowmobiling has far less of an impact on the wilderness than UTVs and ATVs. Once the s ow melts, it’s difficult to tell where snowmobiles made tracks, unlike their wheeled brethern. What are other people’s thoughts on this? Will trail systems grow with more UTV/ATV use? Or will landowners begin to close their properties and easements over growing concerns of damage to property, noise and dust? One thing I hope for is a renewed interest in more companies offering sleds and getting families back in to the sport. Think snow!

    Reply
  • Avatar for Rob

    Way to much money for sleds that dont last 2 years would be biggest reason 34k for a turbo mountain sled no thanks

    Reply
  • Avatar for Adam Johns

    I’d say sales are down because sled prices have gotten absolutely ridiculous… and with the economic hardships people are facing, who the hell has $25k to spend on a snowmobile that’s usually only good for 15000 km’s.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Patrick P

    I imagine the large incentives manufacturers had at the end of the year helps keep sales up. I bought a brand new snowmobile for the first time in my life at the end of February. I was planning on snow checking but the deals were too good. I actually got the exact snowmobile I would have built, which was hard to find considering the track option is not the typical floor model track. And good thing I got it because that model doesn’t exist for 2025. The XC line from Polaris. Which I think is a great move for Polaris considering that model probably would have had many changes and plenty of 24 and 23 are sitting at dealers. I save $3,200 off MSRP and got a free second year of warranty.

    Also with no snow means a lot of people saved a lot of money. A second year of no snow in the Midwest would be the killer. But we can’t forget in the Midwest the year before was a fantastic better than average winter. Which means the chances of this being the new age of winters is so low. The last time MN had a winter like this was 145 years ago. And that winter was so warm the range in temp to 2nd place was bigger than the temp range from 2nd to 5th. So history says it’s a fluke.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Dave cumming

      It’s a great sport but 15 grand for the sled 5 grand for the trailer 5 hundred for apparel got to get out more than a couple of weekends o the insurance I WANT SOME SNOW ❄

      Reply
  • Avatar for AKrider

    The OEM’s have learned nothing from Harley. They continue to chase the Baby Boomer demographic with ever more expensive, feature laden sleds. They are apparently too stupid to realize once your core demographic ages out of riding you’ve got very few people left to buy your sleds.

    Maybe a second bad winter in a row will cause them to change up the product offerings so sleds actually run past 2000 miles without blowing up. Maybe focus on offering just good, general, all around sleds instead of specialized niche machines that overheat in any snow conditions that isn’t waist deep powder.

    The sled market is broken and the OEM’s can’t seem to figure things out.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Viking

    The last time this was published I predicted sales would be ~90,000 due to the ridiculous high prices, poor quality of the sleds that don’t last, too many recalls and problems with sleds, poor weather was a factor but no where near the biggest cause of the decline.

    Record sled sales was 600,000+ units in 1970 and predictions of over 1,000,000 units in 1971. Sleds sales were doubling every year from early sixties. Not bad since sled sales were in single digits when we got our first real recreational sled from Polaris in 1954. Fantastic growth from 1954-1970 with 100+ manufacturers.

    Sales are off the fast track because they don’t market sleds to the middle income bracket now it is sold to the 1%ers only.

    Much smarter to go after the Ford buyers vs the Ferrari buyers. Proven historical fast track success vs dismal out look over the last 35 years.

    Trails and club volunteers s are disappearing because landowners and volunteers don’t want to have trails only for use of the 1%ers.

    Need to go back to marketing affordable sleds geared for the middle class market before it is too late.

    Reply
  • Avatar for John Zeglin

    Yes you can spend a lot of money on a new sled but I think you are being too hard on the manufacturers. I admit I am a Ski-doo guy so that is where most of my knowledge is and I think Ski-doo has been offering some reasonably priced sleds, especially trail type sleds. January and February in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area there was some GREAT deals on remaining 2024’s. I know pricing did vary greatly from dealer to dealer, but you could get a 600 Etec 129 or 137 with electric start, reverse and many bells and whistles for about $11,000 to 12,000. Closer to $11,000. 850’s weren’t all that much more. Those are really great trail sled for the money.

    Reply

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