Sled is Russia designed, China made and U.S. marketed
Konstantin Archakov traveled his way across the U.S. snow belt all winter, stopping into as many dealerships as possible to show off the industry’s newest snowmobile addition: the T150 utility sled from Irbis USA.
As the brand’s general manager, the Moscow native was pleased to announce in July at the company’s Minnesota headquarters that the EPA has approved the machine, and the proof is the paperwork he has received.
Next up? Building a dealer body for the 150cc model.
“We will start with an initial target of dealers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan,” Archakov told Powersports Business on a recent tour of the U.S. headquarters. “Irbis snowmobiles are designed in Russia, manufactured in China and now being sold in the USA. So you can say we have all three world powers involved with this launch! Based on our conversations and first rides from dealers, we are excited about joining the marketplace in the U.S. We know that this will be a good investment in the market.”
Irbis, which also has a 125cc off-road motorcycle and a lineup of ATVs coming to the U.S. market, is in the midst of developing more snowmobile models 220cc and up.
There’s no mistaking the T150’s utility nature. It’s equipped with a 150cc, 4-stroke engine. It reaches 9.25hp at 7500 rpm and is driven by a CVT, with reverse. There’s an electric and pull starter, and the front suspension includes double swing arms, with two adjustable shocks in the rear. The track, supplied by Russia-based Composit, is 15 inches, and its dry weight is 328.5 pounds. The carrying capacity is 330.7 pounds, and its length is 8.37 feet. Its top speed is 25 mph, and the grips and trigger are heated.
The brand has continually grown sales in Russia for the past five years, since the snowmobile model’s inception. The sleds have also been sold in Finland, Sweden and Japan in impressive numbers since their launch in 2016. Canada and South America are the most recent sales locations, with Norway slotted for 2018. Dmitry Semenderkin, international sales manager, reports that about 30,000 Irbis snowmobiles have been retailed in the last four years.
Archakov launched the U.S. operations in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 2016, following three years of market research. The $2,499 retail price figures to attract dealers who are interested in reaching that consumer. End users come from a variety of work and play backgrounds. The sled has proven ideal for use while ice fishing, working on maple syrup tree farms and a variety of other work functions.
“Simply put, we put the best of the best into the snowmobile, and we don’t think that it needs to break the bank for the consumer,” Archakov said.
Irbis contracts with two factories in China, where the snowmobiles are currently being built. The company plans to open a manufacturing facility near Moscow in September alongside its R&D facility. Product will follow off the factory line in Moscow.
“For parts and service, we will be unmistakable for doing the right thing,” he said. “We are not trying to compete with anyone; we are simply creating an additional revenue stream and attracting a new audience for dealers.”
Dealers can expect margins of better than 30 percent on the Irbis T150.
“Their perception of the sled after they rode it? It was like eyes wide open,” Archakov said. “It’s got more bells and whistles than they expected.”
Irbis founder Artem Tsarev has been a motorcyclist since his childhood in Vladivistock. He formed the company in 2001 as an aftermarket accessories business. More than 1,500 dealers in Russia call on Irbis, and before the Great Recession, Irbis had done more than $100 million in sales per year.