On August 6, 1997, Yamaha Motor Co.,
Ltd. celebrated the line-off of its one-millionth snowmobile.
Beginning with the first model, the SL350 in 1968, it
has taken 30 years to realize this achievement. The
millionth model off the line was the 600 cc SRX600.
Yamaha snowmobiles are manufactured at Yamaha factories
in Japan. The engines come from the Iwata 5th Factory
located in Tenryu in Iwata City,Shizuoka Prefecture;
painting, final assembly, and packing takes place at
the Iwata 1st Factory in Shingai, Iwata City, Shizuoka
Today Yamaha supplies a full line-up of utility and
leisure snowmobiles ranging from 250cc (18 horsepower)
to 700cc (over 110 horsepower) in 14 models for the
domestic market and 26 models for the overseas markets.
Vehicles are marketed in 16 countries around the world
including the big North American market. From engines
to bodies, Yamaha is the only domestic snowmobile maker
to wholly produce its own vehicles. As one of the foremost
manufacturers of snowmobiles in the world, the Yamaha
brand enjoys instant recognition in a wide range of
Yamaha's snowmobile production reached the 100,000 unit
mark in 1972, 200,000 in 1976, and the half million
mark in 1983. Assembly and production take place at
the Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.'s Iwata 1st Factory.
100,000 units reached
200,000 units reached
500,000 units reached
1,000,000 units reached
Snowmobiles in the Domestic and International Market
The worldwide demand for snowmobiles
stands at about 260,000 units annually. Demand for snowmobiles
comes primarily from Canada and the United States in
North America and the Scandinavian countries of Northern
Europe where they are widely used and depended on as
a daily means of transportation in the lives of people
in the snow country. They also perform vital jobs in
the farming and forestry industries as well. In the
winter months they are also used in a variety of ways
as recreation vehicles.
At present, in the United States and Canada whose combined
demand makes up 90 percent of the world snowmobile market,
a network of some 13,000 total kilometers of trails
specifically designated for snowmobile use spreads throughout
the length and breadth of the snow country and family
cruising on snowmobiles over long distances has become
an established form of winter recreation.
Snowmobiles are also used for utilitarian jobs like
looking after domesticated herds of reindeer or hauling
lumber cut in winter. In forbidding winter environments
that would otherwise be cut off to normal traffic, snowmobiles
have a tremendous social significance and performance
potential for helping get work done efficiently as well
as creating newer and larger outdoor leisure possibilities.
In the two main North American markets, the U.S. has
a total of 1.3 million registered snowmobiles and Canada
about one million.
Beginning with the first model, the SL350, which was
a prototype, (the first mass-produced model was the
SL351), Yamaha has responded to the diverse demands
of its customers and tailored its models to fit the
needs of the countries where they live.
In response to the needs of an ever-growing market,
new models have been introduced every year since 1975.
To develop and produce snowmobiles in Shizuoka Prefecture
which receives little snow, it was necessary to conduct
market research and product development in North America
where demand was biggest in order to adapt the products
to the local market.
Toward this end, Yamaha opened ''R & D Minnesota,''
a snowmobile technologyresearch and development facility
in the United States and its first testfacility in Hokkaido,
Japan in 1972 which was later established as the''Yamaha
Shibetsu Test Center'' in 1989. In this way the critical
jobs ofproduct development, performance, and quality
control are conducted jointlyin the U.S. and Japan in
an integrated system.
The present Yamaha snowmobile line-up consists of vehicles
in the 250cc to
700cc range. A new model which joins the line in 1997
is the top-of-the-line SRX700, sure to excite the hearts
of snowmobile fans around the world.
Annual domestic demand for snowmobiles has grown to
about 2,500 units, with Yamaha's share of the market
at 70 percent (Yamaha figures). The leisure and sports
fields account for 80 percent of the demand, with the
remaining 20 percent going to vehicles in the utility
In the field of promotion too, Yamaha has been an active
participant, establishing ''Snowmobile Lands'' in Hokkaido
in 1987. Since then it has opened a number of snowmobile
recreation areas around the country where one can experience
the pleasures of snowmobiling. (Some of these are under
the direct management of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.) With
the close cooperation and concerted efforts of the owners
to further promote the sport, there are presently 59
''Snowmobile Lands'' being operated in various areas.
In 1988 Yamaha also organized its first ''Safe Snowmobile
Riding Seminar.'' Throughout the country Yamaha is working
actively to promote the spread of sound snowmobile enjoyment
through instruction in correct riding and an appreciation
for environmental preservation. Along with this, Yamaha
has developed a snowmobile licensing system for beginners
in addition to other activities designed to spread basic
knowledge about snowmobiles.
Reliable Yamaha snowmobiles have continued to serve
in some of the world's
most severe environments, such as winter research expeditions
in Antarctica and expeditions like those of Japanese
actress Masako Izumi to the North Pole and Shinji Kazama's
motorcycle assault on the South Pole, where a Yamaha
snowmobile served as a support vehicle.