December 22, 2014
Merry Christmas and Happy Snowmobiling!
I am still digesting my recent trip to Russia. the most familiar experience I had while there, was snowmobiling. The culture, the people and the cuisine were unique and pleasantly wonderful, not at all what I was expecting. It’s too bad the economy there is taking such a hit due to falling price of oil. Clearly they have been making some huge strides in the transition from being state controlled towards free enterprise. Our dealers that I met are justifiably concerned but one cannot help but sense their determination and commitment. This passionate tenacity seems to run deep in the Russian people and is fundamental in the success of the new federation. The potential there remains immense for the motor sports industry and, IMO, will play an influential role in the general future of snowmobile.
I no sooner returned from Moscow, then had to fly down to our R&D facility in Minocqua. actually to be correct, I flew as far as Minneapolis only to have my final flight cancelled due to fog and ended up driving the 5+ hours to get there. I was given the daunting task of presenting the background and technology behind the Yamaha Performance Damper system to four of Arctic Cats top engineers. To make matters more challenging, it had warmed up and rained the day before our meeting which also entailed test riding some Vipers and a special guest model, equipped with PD for them to sample.
The test ride itself was not at all favorable to evaluate a snowmobiles handling potential but everyone was able to feel ‘something’ which was a nice appetizer if nothing else. We need to provide them some sample that they can test on their own. You may be wondering why and your assumption that we would like to introduce the PD to the Viper line would be correct. I am hoping to get it on some limited 2016 models and will be going back down the first week after the holidays to discuss the potential along with a few other items in product planning.
I made it home ok with no more travel duress and finished last week with a visit to the legendary Supertrax / Snowtrax lair where I did an interview with Mark on the PD to air sometime in the new year. Unfortunately the timing and conditions didn’t lend to a ride but after a lengthy lunch spent getting caught up, it was decided I need to get back up there for a follow-up, on-trail session at the first opportunity.
The 2016 model pre-production or PVB (as Arctic refers to them) units are due to roll off the line in early January. These will be used to check final specifications, perform durability tests and then cover various marketing activities. Jon and I plan to be there to follow them through assembly with a couple more sets of critical eye-balls to help insure we have no surprises come production. Right after that we have another test scheduled in MQRD for some advanced projects, then its off to Japan for our product planning kick-off. I’m beginning to think I might be getting too old for all this… 😉
With that peaceful thought – my mind turns to the cabin where my snowmobiles await. I look forward to being disconnected over the holidays and hitting the trails with my kid who has just received her official operators permit that allows her to ride the OFSC trail system this winter. There truly is nothing more important in this life than our loved ones (and that includes your sled). I hope you get to enjoy the holidays with your family and appreciate everything that is good in your life. All the very best to you and yours from all of us here at Yamaha.