A late but long-lasting winter in much of the country salvaged U.S. snowmobile sales in the winter of 2012-13, and favorable economic and weather conditions elsewhere drove the snowmobile market forward by more than 15,000 units worldwide.
Those stats and more were unveiled Friday by Ed Klim, president of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association. Speaking in front of about 500 grassroots snowmobile leaders from across the world at the International Snowmobile Congress in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Klim portrayed the numbers as a sign of strength for the snowmobile market, and he predicted a strong future.
“We had really, really good spring shows,” Klim said of the traveling displays featuring the 2014 snowmobiles from all four major snowmobile manufacturers. “We’re very optimistic. Spring orders were up and that usually bodes pretty well for the upcoming season.”
In the 2012-13 snowmobile-selling season, sales of new snowmobiles from Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha were 48,536 in the U.S. compared to 48,689 in the winter of 2011-12. That’s a 156-unit decrease, coming off a previous year that included limited snowfall and winter weather, and then a very slow start to cold and snowy conditions this past winter. However, snow lingered through March and well into April in some regions, helping dealers clear out some existing inventory as hardcore riders chased snow deep into the spring, and setting the stage for a potentially strong fall.
Klim described new snowmobile sales as flat in the Upper Midwest, down slightly in the Northeast and “up a little” in the Mountain West. Snowmobile sales are calculated from May 1 until April 31 the following year to account for the seasonality of the sport, as it breaks over the calendar year.
In Canada, new snowmobile sales were up 10 percent, jumping from 40,165 units in 2011-12 to 44,022 in 2012-13. Those numbers were buoyed by the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which were each up by more than 25 percent, Klim said, thanks in part to a strong economy driven by oil, natural gas and farm incomes.
Sales were even stronger in Europe and Russia, jumping from 40,233 in the 2011-12 sales season to 52,043 in the 2012-13 season. It marks the first time in history that worldwide snowmobile sales were led by overseas sales.
Klim said Russia in particular continues to grow by incredible margins – topping 31,000 units this year.
Total it all up, and worldwide snowmobile sales jumped 12 percent – to 144,601 units compared to 129,087 units in the previous season, 123,063 in 2010-11 and 111,492 in 2009-10.
Snowmobile registrations in the U.S. jumped to 1,392,000 units in 2012-13 from 1,366,630 in 2011-12. Canadian snowmobile registrations were 590,677, versus 593,248 the previous year.