A message from ISMA president Ed Klim

Snowmobile sales remained steady this winter thanks to continued interest and enthusiasm in the sport

by Ed Klim, president of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association

Snowmobilers ride in a line.
The snowmobile community is optimistic and already looking forward to a great 2020-2021 riding season. Photo courtesy ISMA

A strong economy during the autumn and winter of 2019-2020, along with excellent snow conditions in many parts of North America, helped support the snowmobile community, manufacturers and dealers. Continued interest and enthusiasm in snowmobiling this winter helped sales to remain steady at 123,862 new sleds sold worldwide, a 7 per cent decline from the previous year, which was a strong sales year supported by a long winter season. Sales in all three major markets, (United States, Canada and Scandinavia) reported minor declines influenced by a shortened sales season and the onslaught of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Sales in the United States were 51,036 new snowmobiles sold, while sales in Canada were 43,535 new snowmobiles sold.

Sales showed a slight increase in Finland to slightly over 5,040 units sold compared to 4581 units last year. Russia continues its strong sales activity with over 7,191 new sleds sold following last year’s sales of 6441 sleds.  This is a sales increase of slightly over 10 per cent in Russia, which highlights the improved economic health in Russia, joined with excellent snow conditions and enthusiasm for the sport of snowmobiling.

The snowmobile community is optimistic and already looking forward to a great 2020-2021 riding season since the end of this riding season in March-April 2020 featured tremendous snowfalls in much of North America.

The snowmobile industry reports that there are 1.1 million registered snowmobiles in the United States and over 543,000 in Canada.  The registration numbers continue to be steady, showing that snowmobiling continues to be an active, healthy winter sport.

Recently conducted surveys show that 82 per cent of the snowmobiling households own two snowmobiles that they register and ride. Increased registration in Northern Europe continues and there are well over 300,000 active snowmobilers in Scandinavia.

Snowmobile related tourism continues to increase in North America and beyond. This can be seen in recent economic studies conducted by major colleges and universities. Miles ridden by snowmobilers, which is always predictive of economic impact, showed that riding and related tourism continued on a steady pace compared to previous years.

The average age of a snowmobiler this past season was 45 years of age. Approximately 84 per cent of snowmobilers are males and 16 per cent are female. Survey also showed that snowmobilers are active outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy snowmobiling with family and friends. 70 per cent of first-time snowmobile buyers have purchased a used snowmobile and most plan to purchase a new snowmobile on their next purchase. Many of the first-time buyers are young adults and they move on to purchase the new snowmobile later in life.

Snowmobilers are outdoor enthusiasts and over 50 per cent participate in activities such as boating, camping, fishing, ATVing and Motorcycle riding. Snowmobilers are active hikers, bikers and hunters. Over 60 per cent of snowmobilers in North America are club and/or snowmobile association/federation members. These active, outdoor enthusiasts build the trails and support snowmobiling access across North America. They are also active in raising money for charity and annually raise over three million dollars for national charities.

The Go Snowmobiling website and the Go Snowmobiling Facebook page serve as another strong indicator of the interest in snowmobiling. This year, the Go Snowmobiling website received over two million visits and the majority of them were new snowmobilers or did not own a snowmobile but expressed a great deal of interest in going snowmobiling. We have also seen continued growth and expansion of the Go Snowmobiling Facebook page with over 20,000 followers interacting with us on a daily basis, sharing their snowmobiling stories and pictures.

Families enjoy snowmobiling because it is a great outdoor recreation activity.  People go snowmobiling for the following reasons:

  • To view the scenery
  • Be with family and friends
  • To get away from the usual demands of life and to be close with nature.

The snowmobile clubs and state and provincial snowmobile organizations continue to expand as they serve as a great conduit for snowmobiling and are involved in local issues supporting their local communities. Economic impact studies show that snowmobiling is growing in importance as part of the overall economic engine and job growth for winter tourism. Studies are showing that snowmobiling generates over $30 billion worth of economic activity in North America. Snowmobiling joins other outdoor recreation activities and in total, outdoor recreation generates over $766 billion worth of economic activity in the United States. Economic activity generated by snowmobilers provides many jobs and investment opportunities and generates considerable tax revenue for local governments that eagerly support snowmobiling. The most recent surveys show that snowmobilers spend over $3,500 per family supporting snowmobiling activities on average, and that does not include the purchase of a snowmobile and trailer. A recent report shows that snowmobiling contributed $9.3 billion in economic activity across Canada.

In many parts of North America and Northern Europe, snowmobilers are the economic engine for winter tourism. Snowmobiling is a vital component of the rural America development effort and is recognized as such by land managers around the globe. Snowmobilers are an optimistic group of people and they are looking forward to a great winter in 2021.

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