So there was an abundance of snow most everywhere in the West last season and that bodes well for snowmobile sales, right?
Well, kind of. The West fared better than the rest of the snowbelt, showing a minuscule 1.65 percent drop in sales compared to 9.1 percent for U.S. sales. Still, that's not much to crow about if you're a snowmobile manufacturer or sled dealer.
Once again we present our exclusive look at snowmobile sales in the western United States, for all of America and worldwide.
Western United States
The last time we had positive numbers (read: growth) in the West was in 2000, when there was a 1.1 percent increase in snowmobile sales. On the bright side, we haven't had double digit losing numbers since 2002 and this year's drop of 1.65 percent is less than last season's 1.76 percent loss.
Another interesting figure is the percentage of national sales that units sold in the western United States represents. Last year the West accounted for 24 percent of all snowmobile sales in America. This year that jumped a significant 2 percent to 26 percent, the highest ever. That means two things. First, the West continues to be an important segment for the manufacturers and second, snow conditions in the Midwest still suck (unfortunately).
The picture here is a little more distressing. The number of units sold-91,670-slid below the 100,000 mark for the first time since 1993. And the last time the number of snowmobiles sold nationwide was on the positive side was 2001.
The number of sleds sales rang up the tills to the tune of $740 million, which is $85 million less than the previous year. While we're not privy to the exact details of all aspects of snowmobile sales, we can only speculate that the loss is partly due to the sale of more non-current models, which fetch a smaller sales price than current models do. The average cost of a snowmobile in 2006 was a little more than $8,000. Multiply that by the number of units not sold compared to the previous year (9,229) and you get $73 million. That tells us some of the units sold didn't go for the $8,000 price tag but for less. No matter how you look at it, an $85 million hit is significant. And, as you can imagine, that has a trickle-down effect throughout the industry.
U.S. sales represent the bulk of worldwide sales so it's no big surprise that worldwide sales were down too, 5.1 percent, about one percent higher than a year ago. Canadian sales slipped 7.2 percent while sales outside North America rose a healthy 13.9 percent. Snowmobile sales outside North America take place primarily in Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia, although, as we pointed out in the snowmobile news section of SnoWest.com on Feb. 8, sleds are being sold in Australia, Turkey and even Brazil.
International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association President Ed Klim said the manufacturers are hoping the new gosnowmobiling.org website will help educate the general public about our sport and they will ultimately be interested enough to try-and buy-a snowmobile. Klim also commented that research shows the No. 1 competitor to snowmobiling is cruise lines. We would never have guessed that.
Snow Blast 2 was more of what the original Snow Blast was-fun.
Except this year the snow was more plentiful and there was the addition of a WPSA national race. Bonus.
Anyone who wanted to could ride the 2007 sleds and with this year's bountiful snow in and around West Yellowstone, lots of riders took Cat up on its offer. Sledders were able to see why Cat is claiming this season is its biggest and best ever in terms of new machines.
This year also saw the big name snocross racers hit the snow in a national event for two days of high octane racing. And it seemed only fitting that two "local" racers from eastern Idaho, Kurtis Crapo (Pro Stock) and brother Shaun Crapo (Pro Open), took home the winning hardware.
Cat, along with the community of West Yellowstone, also provided another great concert after dark. Country stars Blake Shelton and Jo Dee Messina provided the entertainment despite some pretty cold temps.