Where’s The Price Cap In Snowmobiling?

A couple of years ago, when viewing a new high-end snowmobile that was being introduced featuring a matching high-end (from our perspective) price tag, we got into a casual, philosophical conversation with a product planner from one of the manufacturers.

“How much is too much?” we asked. “You’ve told us before that the high-end sleds from each brand are usually the best sellers, but at what point do you hit a price wall and end up building a machine that has no shot of selling in much volume?”

The reason for the question is this: Each factory has access to all kinds of expensive materials and components that, in theory, they could put on a bunch of their snowmobiles. But if that would send the price of so-equipped sleds over $25,000, for example, would enough of those sleds sell to make the effort worthwhile?

“Well, we actually do a lot of research on that – and each market is different,” the factory official said. “We think we know roughly where that ‘cap’ is in the snowmobile market, and we’ve seen it play out in other leisure products,” he said.

Then he turned to a specific powersports example.

“The one that’s most interesting to watch right now is the side-by-side market,” he said. He noted that there’s been ongoing features-and-benefits war in the high-end side-by-side/sport UTV market for some time, largely driven by Polaris with its RZRs and BRP’s Can-Am Mavericks. One will introduce a $23,000 model, but that will be topped later in the year by the other’s $25,000 models, which is quickly topped by a $27,000 model from the other factory.

And that brings us to the recent news of Polaris’ 2022 RZR Pro R and RZR Turbo R models. The RZR Pro R features an automotive-style, 2 liter, four-cylinder engine that creates 225 horsepower. The retail price four the four-seater models STARTS at $35,999. But, why stop there because you’ve got to have the best suspension and stereo equipment, right? The “RZR Pro R 4 Ultimate” starts at $41,999 while the limited-build Pro R 4 Launch Edition runs a cool $44,999.

“$45 large for a side-by-side?!” a co-worker bellowed when we got the press release on November 9. “Are they crazy?”

Crazy like a fox: The dang things are already sold out!

Bringing it back to snowmobiling, 20-some-odd years ago companies like FAST Inc. with its Blade snowmobiles plus Redline and Scorpion had plans to serve a high-end market, and a bunch of builders were toying with small-run, high-end creations for the mountains. And, for the racing and mountain markets we know of some folks with pretty darn valuable machines. (Expect to spend six figures for a competitive Outlaw drag sled, for instance. )

But in terms of a factory-built, mass-market snowmobile, what is the reasonable cap? Models like the Ski-Doo Mach Z ($19,699) and Polaris Pro-RMK Matryx Slash 163 with the Patriot Boost engine ($19,599) are pushing $20k in U.S. dollars now, but people lined up to order them last spring and they quickly sold out.

So how much is too much for the high-end of the snowmobile market? We may not have hit the ceiling yet.

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3 thoughts on “Where’s The Price Cap In Snowmobiling?

  • Avatar for Rick Hein

    When interest rates go through the roof due to inflation pressures, this craziness will come to a stop. When loans are cheaper than inflation, it’s easier for people to justify the payments, but if mortgage rates go to 16% like they did in 1981, people won’t be able to easily justify using their houses as piggy banks.

  • Avatar for Randy Z

    Here are the real facts and the complete and though analysis of snowmobile industry. Please pass this on to all sledheads (past and present), dealers, media, manufactures etc. to not only save our sport but to ensure it thrives, not merely survives. Taken from my knowledge and participation of the sport from 1967 to the present.

    In 1970, 600,000 new snowmobiles were sold and we had over 100+ brands, now it is less than 1/6 of that and three sled builders (sorry Yamaha and Arctic Cat only count as one as they are the same sled built in the same plant).

    Sled prices were $800 Canadian vs well over $23,000 Canadian, the price is 29 times higher.

    Ford, Toyota etc. all make several times more profit than Ferrari because they sell vehicles to the masses vs. only high end ultra wealthy market, they also have exponentially increased their sales dollars and volume with this strategy, mass market segment, Ferrari and other high end ultra luxury performance automobile manufacturers have not.

    If the snowmobile manufactures want to go back to the successful sales and profits of the past , ~ 8 years after the first production of snowmobiles they need to dramatically lower sled prices.

    The snowmobile market has shrunk 83%, (600K vs ,100K) but the world’s population has increased over 200% (from 3.6B to 7.9B), an ever increasing worsting due to incorrect target marketing going from the mass market of all consumers to only the ultra wealthy. The market doubles but sales shrink 83%!

    Couple this problem with climate change (extreme reduction in snowmobile season and sleds which need, high cost to be rebuilt more often eg. every 5,000 miles vs. 20,000+ miles for the triples in the 1990’s (eg. Ultra/XCR, XLT, SRX, ZRT/Pantera,) not to mention ridicules cost of routine maintenance items (eg. $2 fuel filters in 2000 vs $80 now, $20 belts vs. $250+ now, $10 shocks vs $500 now) and it is driving the sport to extinction.

    In the late 60’s and early 70’s almost everyone you knew (friends, family,neighbors and co-workers) had a sled, now almost nobody has a sled, facts are facts, stop covering up for manufactures mistakes,and greed do not encourage the end of our beloved sport / recreational activity.

    There were a lot more snowmobile media back then as well so if you want to survive and thrive you need to be critically analytical and truthful and encourage a massive reduction in the prices of sleds, in routine maintenance cost and much more durable sleds extending the rebuild cycle and make parts last longer with simple practical things like going back to having 15 grease zerks in the front and rear suspension, steering arms and posts and drive and jack shafts now there are none and you have to replace expensive parts from normal wear when if you just routinely greased them every 1,000 miles a few times a season, your sled would last forever.

    I know I still have my first sled from 1967 and one from 1997. Sorry to all you newbie sledders from 2003 up you are not aware of these industry truths as they were before your time. FYI my sleds from the 1980’s and 1990’s (TXL Indy, XLT, Ultra SP I regularly drove 300 miles a day once a week for the whole season in 8-10 hour days with my snomo buddies with no issue,s just a ton of fun.

    We need an SOS,( Save Our Sport).

    • Avatar for GLEN MALLORY

      Agreed. This is why good used machines from 10 to 15 years ago in the multipurpose 500 to 600cc range with either air or water cooling and good suspension travel are firmly at 3500 dollars and up. Then you can go as high as 7000 for a Cat Turbo Touring T660 or TZ1 1000cc four stroke with low hours. I read the want adds a lot. Grab a hot beverage and surf if you doubt me. If it’s made after 2004 and is in great shape you will pay premium. Even the leaf springer Vintage market is picking back up again. Mint 340 Enticers I saw listed for 800 to a grand each. A 1980 Panther that needed some detailing but runs well, 1000.


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