For the first time in snowmobile sales history, Russia has reportedly outsold the U.S. in snowmobile sales, mainly due to three years of good snow seasons in Russia and a building economy.
This “cold war” news comes from ISMA, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association. Ed Klim, its president, announced these results at the International Snowmobile Congress in June in Green Bay, Wis. in front of delegations from the United States, Russia and Canada.
Russian and Europe sled sales were up 23% from 40,223 a year ago to 52,000 units in model-year 2013. Klim attributed the growth in unit sales to the Russian economy growing at a fast rate.
However, more snow this season in the U.S. and Canada did help keep snowmobile sales relatively flat in the U.S. instead of declining as it did in 2012. Klim said U.S. sales were 48,536 compared to 48,689 the previous year. Klim noted that March sales were not included so he predicted a bit of a bump up after those numbers are added.
Snowmobilers in the U.S. who were in the market for new sleds were looking mostly for machines with the most responsive handling and quickest acceleration, according to a study released by University of Wisconsin students at the Congress.
Snowmobilers in Canada were in a stronger buying mood though, with sales up 10% to 44,022 from 40,165 the previous year. In 2012 Canadian sled sales had dipped 1.8% compared to 2011.
Worldwide sled sales increased 11% from 129,087 to 144,601 in 2013. This is the third straight year of higher sales worldwide. Sales in 2010 season were 111,492 worldwide.
Snowmobile registrations also grew slightly to 1,392,043 compared to 1,366,630 in 2012. ISMA reports that Minnesota registrations were not in prior to the Snowmobile Congress, so the numbers may fluctuate. Last year’s registrations originally were reported at 1,401,376 but were later changed.
Canadian sled registrations dipped a bit to 590,676 from 603,800. This was a concern discussed in the Northeast Chapters meeting at the Congress. Canadian province delegates stated high permit prices and lack of government support in some provinces helped stir the decline.
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs representative said changes in snowmobiling to more casual sledding has pushed them to look differently at ways to get registrations. One new effort last year was a Family Day Long Weekend where trail permits were free for a weekend in February.
By Christie Green, American Snowmobiler