Last month’s news of Yamaha’s impending departure from the snowmobile industry has sent a seismic caliber shudder through the entire sport. There are players who are severely injured by Yamaha’s exit and players who are going to benefit in a substantial way from Yamaha leaving the sport. Let’s deal with the winners first.
There’s little doubt some of the 10,000 new Yamaha sled buyers will ultimately migrate to other camps in the future. Here’s how we think this looks: Undeniably, Yamaha snowmobile buyers have overwhelmingly been 4-stroke buyers. This trait is deeply entrenched in the typical Yamaha demographic profile.
Because of this we think Ski-Doo is going to benefit most from Yamaha’s departure. Why? Ski-Doo has more 4-stroke models in more segments than any other sled-maker. In fact, Ski-Doo has more 4-stroke models than Yamaha. Look for the current market share and unit volume leader to attract the largest number of these now “available” former Yamaha fans to the Ski-Doo brand.
WINNER: Arctic Cat
Arctic Cat is in a good position right now. Clearly, your local Arctic Cat store will be offering models with Yamaha 4-stroke engines for the foreseeable future. Many of these sleds closely mirror Yamaha models the Thief River Falls OEM offers with minor tech changes and Arctic Cat graphics.
There’s much goodness for Cat in Yamaha’s decision, as current Yamaha owners and those who will buy a 2025 model will have an uncommon opportunity to access service parts for many, many years. Obviously, the Arctic Cat chassis and most of the current driveline components of AC sleds has been common with Yamahas since MY 2014. We can already see a new catalogue with cross-referenced Arctic Cat part numbers for Yamaha sleds.
While Polaris has just entered the 4-stroke market with its new 4S twin cylinder, 90-plus horsepower engine in a number of current models and chassis configurations, the company’s ability to capitalize on Yamaha’s exit will be less impactful than for AC and SD. However, Yamaha’s exit will provide more runway for Polaris to get traction with a now substantially larger 4-stroke marketplace moving forward.
Lynx is not a huge player in the 4-stroke category but is definitely a player. Here’s where we see Lynx benefitting from Yamaha’s exit. We believe (because we’ve been told by some people who know) there is a substantial group of Yamaha owners who would not buy any current, longstanding OEM’s snowmobile – even if you put their fingers in a vice until they cried Momma. These buyers are hardcore-loyal to Yamaha.
However, at some point in time they will have to replace their current Yamaha ride. Because of this reality, Lynx could capture more diehard Yamaha aficionados than the other three OEMs. Here’s a suggestion: If BRP deliberately severed the Lynx brand and created a network of “Lynx only” dealers we think even with Lynx’ premium pricing they would sell more Lynx’ sleds than leaving them exclusively at Ski-Doo dealers.
This idea has to be tempting right now. Since Yamaha’s intention to leave went public we have heard a substantial number of successful Yamaha snowmobile dealers have been aggressively looking for another brand to fill their showrooms.
Unfortunately, there are considerable numbers of industry participants who have been impacted negatively by Yamaha’s announced intention to leave the biz following MY 2025. Our next report on this topic will cover the other end of the spectrum – those who have been hurt by the iconic brand’s intention to depart our much-loved sport.