We have a fleet of machines in our riding stable like we do each year. But this year we have a growing list of “nuisance” problems.
Some are more major than others. We’ve had recalls, run-quality problems, malfunctioning gauges, coolant loss, faulty diagnostic trouble codes and other things that have required us to haul our machines to the dealer. It’s a pain and it’s lost riding time, and nobody likes to deal with it.
This year, we don’t have any Yamaha models in our fleet, but if we did, they might be free of mechanical problems.
Bob Davis is a Guinness World Record holder for driving his 2005 Yamaha RS Venture snowmobile 12,163 miles in a 60-day period (January 11 to March 11, 2008). He has more than 36,000 miles on the original engine and there’s little doubt the engine will go for much longer. Yamaha’s four-stroke engines have much in common with the company’s high-performance motorcycle products, and it’s easy to find Yamaha motorcycles in excess of 100,000 miles using the same engine technology as what’s in the company’s sleds.
When companies are confident about a durable product, they stand behind it. A long-term warranty is an assurance that the product won’t fail. And Yamaha is being bolder than ever about its products with its new snowmobile warranty program.
Yamaha dealers have spring promotion details for a comprehensive, free, four-year extended snowmobile warranty. While it might not sound so unique from what the company has offered in the past, this year there is no commitment to buy. Consumers can lock in the warranty until April 15 with no money down.
Then, if the weather, the economy, better prices or any other reason compels a Yamaha buyer to pull the trigger on a new Yamaha before November 30, they receive the warranty and the best pricing incentive at the time of the actual sale. If no action is taken before that cutoff date, there is no obligation. It’s Yamaha’s way to ensure its customers get the best warranty and the best deal on a new snowmobile.
It’s an interesting take on the spring sales period; different from what other manufacturers are doing with guaranteed delivery or spring-only model packages. But Yamaha’s engine durability allows the company to offer something to its customers the other manufacturers can’t — a long period of warranty coverage with no out-of-pocket to buyers.
Most long-term warranties are a profit center for the company that offers the coverage because people typically pay for the coverage. When products fail the warranty pays. It’s easy logic to know that the average price of the warranty is going to be more than the calculated cost of repairs.
For that reason companies have to be careful about the products that they stand behind with a warranty — especially ones that are offered free. Marine giant Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) was plagued with mismanagement, but one of the primary reasons the company went bankrupt was because of its extreme warranty cost with the FICHT technology in the late 1990s.
It’s a bit of an assumption, but the amount of coverage available under a warranty is indicative of the product durability. The bottom line is companies can’t afford to have high warranty costs. A good warranty is proof of durable product, plus people have peace of mind knowing that might help close the deal.
Being the quality leader is a goal of each snowmobile manufacturer. As each company works hard to improve its products, the sleds get better. Despite that snowmobiles live a tough life in a harsh winter environment, snowmobilers expect their machines to hold together. I’m anxious for the day that all four manufacturers can compete for customers with a free, long-term warranty that will represent more proof of quality, durable snowmobiles.