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May 25, 2009 – European snowmobile sales climb

May 25, 2009
Filed under Features

By Karin Gelschus
Associate Editor
In large part to good snowfall and strong economies in certain parts of the world,
European snowmobile sales increased by about 2,400 units compared to last year, which is an increase of about 7 percent.
That rise in sales comes after last year’s increase in European sales of 16 percent over the prior riding season of 2005-2006. The European sales include Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA).
“Sales in Europe continue to be strong and get stronger,” said Ed Klim, president of the ISMA.
Nearly 36,000 snowmobiles were sold in Europe this year.
A significant factor for the rise in sales was the amount of snow, says Klim, particularly in Russia and Scandinavia. “They had good snow like ours, maybe even a little better in parts of Europe,” he said. “That makes a real big difference.”
Another major factor that helped boost sales was strong economies in certain areas of Europe, says Klim.
“The economy in parts of Europe is quite strong, and even though we hear rumbles about what’s going on in Russia, the economy in much of Russia continues to expand,” he said. “Their economies are outperforming ours, at least where we sell snowmobiles.”
One thing to keep in mind, says Klim, is that the majority of the European Union economy is Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain, countries where snowmobiles are not sold.
“It’s like if you looked at the United States and say, ‘Well, the economy overall is down,’ but in the same breath say, ‘Some markets are strong.’ Same thing. (In other parts of Europe) economies are fairing OK, if not good.”
One market worth noting is Norway. Due to its controlled society, Klim says snowmobile says have not been affected. “They don’t allocate hardly any of their money to police, to jails, to the military. They spend their money internally on their people, on their infrastructure.
“They have a lot of oil. They are also now the largest producer of certain types of fish and seafood in the world. They have a real dynamic, strong, growing economy. It doesn’t fluctuate, and they’re buying snowmobiles.”
Accompanying increased European sales numbers is the number of miles snowmobilers are riding in a given year.
“How much more? Between 10-20 percent more,” said Klim. “That’s a positive for us. We know that the people who use their vehicles more, there’s a better chance that they’re going to buy another one or a new one next year.”
Another area that saw an increase was Ontario and Quebec’s permit sales, which were up roughly 10-20 percent, says Klim.
“That’s a big, big jump,” he said. “Every country, U.S., Canada, Europe, there’s a high level of interest.”
As a result of increased permit sales, Klim says tourism numbers also have seen positive numbers. “Whether it’s Brainerd, Minn., or parts of Duluth (Minn.) or wherever, we’re seeing some fairly positive tourism reports coming out,” he said. “Compare that to the rest of the economy, and we go, ‘Wow that’s pretty cool.’ (The snowmobile industry) is doing pretty well for ourselves.”

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