On August 28, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (YMC) held a ceremony at its 5th Iwata Factory at company headquarters to celebrate the line-off of its 2-millionth ATV (4-wheel buggy), the vehicles that are the main products of the company's Recreational Vehicle (RV) operations. The 2-millionth ATV to come off the line was a model of the "YFM660R."
Born of the company's respected motorcycle technology, Yamaha ATVs with their wide low-pressure tires and sturdy construction that allow them to be driven freely over a great variety of terrain, are used widely for purposes ranging from sports and leisure to commercial/utility uses. Yamaha Motor entered the ATV market in 1979 with the development and launch of a 3-wheeled buggy, after which the line was shifted mainly to 4-wheel models that today include a total of 15 models ranging in displacement from 80cc to 660cc. Production of Yamaha ATVs originally began at the 1st Iwata Factory and was shifted to the 5th Iwata Factory in 1991, where the momentous 1-millionth unit came off the line in January of 1992.
Due to their great versatility, ATVs are used in all parts of the world today, and in the U.S. market which boasts 80% of the world demand, the 1999 season saw a tremendous 27% lead in demand, bringing the annual demand to 510,000 units. Thanks to their appeal to users of a wide range of age groups and that recent high rate of new users (40%), it is expected that stable growth will continue well into the future.
Yamaha shipments of new ATVs have doubled over the last four years from 100,000 units in 1996 to 210,000 units in 1999, while sales value has risen to a total of 63 billion yen, or 10% of YMC's independent total sales. From now on, Yamaha aims to continue supplying a growing lineup of models that exceed the expectations of the users in each sector of the ATV market, like the fully automatic transmission 4-wheel drive, liquid-cooled 400cc model "Kodiak" which has been chosen "ATV of the Year" by US industry magazine.
As for the manufacturing side, plans call for all domestic production to be moved from the 5th Iwata Factory to the YMC associated manufacturing company SOQI, Inc. by the end of 2000. There, comprehensive manufacturing activities covering all aspects from welding and painting to assembly will be conducted. Meanwhile, overseas production that began at the Yamaha factory near Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998 is being expanded in terms of production capacity, providing a production system that is protected from the influences of currency exchange rates and capable of responding more quickly and flexibly to changes in the market.
In these ways, as Yamaha's ATV operations continue to strengthen its product lineup and production capacity, sales plans for 2001 call for a total foreign and domestic sales goal of 250,000 units (YMC: 188,000; Atlanta: 62,000 units) that will further contribute to the company's growth.