Why Spring Check Is so Important This Year If You Want a New Sled
For those who don’t know, these product reveals kickoff “spring check” sales events in which the OEMs incentivize customers to put down a deposit (usually around $500) and commit to buying a new model year snowmobile in the fall. They tease us with limited-time offers of special edition models, exclusive customization options, and premium components that are only available during the spring check period.
But this practice raises a question: In the interest of producing and selling as many units as possible, why would the manufacturers limit some of their best products to spring-orders only?
At the heart of the issue is basic economics: supply vs. demand. In the interest of profitability, dealers are incentivized to bring in and sell as many units as possible, obviously. However, if inventory is not sold out, typically what happens is that leftover units are marked down late in the season in an attempt to clear out current stock before the next model year becomes available. However, with narrow profit margins, there is not much room for manufacturers to offer big factory discounts to customers year in and year out without loss.
So how do the OEMs know how many units to produce when so many external factors such as the strength of the economy, government policy, consumer trends and weather can so vastly impact sales numbers? Part of the solution is to incentivize customers to lay down a deposit and commit to buying early, which can help forecast in-season sales numbers and remove some of the variability. And how do they do that? They give us good reason to plop down our hard-earned cash.
For model year 2020, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat are each taking this approach to a new level, with more at stake than ever before. They’re creating scarcity and putting their customers to a decision—commit to buying now, or wait another year for the latest and best technology. Meanwhile, Yamaha is trying a completely different tactic—more on that below.
Why This Spring Check Is so Important For MY2020 Buyers
Arctic Cat has gone the furthest and declared that they will not build any in-season units for model year 2020. Not one! This includes their new RIOT crossover model along with the new Mountain Cat and Hardcore Alpha One models.
This means that for the second year in a row, customers who want to own one of the now proven and very well-received Alpha One single-beam rear suspension sleds will have to pony up their deposit this spring.
To help incentivize customers to commit to buying this spring, Arctic Cat has gone all-in with their “Snowmageddon” sales event, which is offering big discounts on new sleds across the board. For example, M 8000 Alpha One model sleds are being offered at pricing roughly $4K CAD lower than original MSRP. Wow. The Hardcore and Mountain Cat sleds were not available last year as Alpha One units of course, but their 2020 pricing reflects the same big savings.
As an additional incentive, Arctic Cat is offering their VIP program with all new sled orders this spring, which includes discounts on Arctic Cat and Motorfist products, exclusive event access, ”insider information” and special offers and promotions. Oh, and a free Arctic Cat hat!
The “Get One or Get None” Snowmageddon event ends April 15, 2019.
It came as no big surprise when Polaris premiered its new 850 Patriot engine as a SnowCheck-only option last year. However, tradition dictates that year-old product technology will typically become standard equipment in its sophomore year.
Not the case with the 850. Polaris will continue to make its 850 Patriot available as a spring-order exclusive for MY2020 again. Regardless of which model you’re after—be it the 2020 PRO-RMK, the new KHAOS model or a Switchback Assault—if you want that 850 powerplant, you’ll have to order it this spring. Cheeky! This is but a shining example of just how important spring orders are in helping the manufacturers optimize their production.
Of course, Polaris offers other incentives as well for those willing to put their money down at SnowCheck. These come in the form of plenty of factory customization options: handlebar and windshield heights; track lengths and lug sizes; console options; shocks packages; and a healthy number of side panel, tunnel and rail colour options.
Polaris’ SnowCheck spring order window wraps up on April 17, 2019.
Two Ski-Doo models—Summit X and Freeride—are perennial “Spring Fever” spring check-only models, are will be again for MY2020.
Ski-Doo has also made a habit of doling out new technology in small doses on new, spring-order only models. One example of this is the 3” lugged track of the Summit “T3” 174 x 3” that was released back in MY2015. More recently, the Gen4 850 platform was mostly released in MY2017, but it couldn’t be had in its 175” Summit model until the following year.
This time around, the Ski-Doo Summit X Expert Package model is the rare commodity to accompany the Summit X and the Freeride. Ski-Doo has added a bunch of modifications to the Expert Package—mods that a serious mountain rider might make to their own stock sled anyway, and made them available straight from the factory.
Two of the most significant modifications will likely find their way onto the rest of the Summit lineup in future model years we suspect; the new spindle and ski rubber for sure, and possibly the shortened tunnel/snow flap as well.
In the meantime, the only way to own the benefits of the Expert Package model next winter is to commit to buying one this spring.
The Ski-Doo Spring Fever sales event ends April 14, 2019.
Yamaha has gone in an entirely different direction. Last year (MY2019), Yamaha made the tough but smart decision to streamline its product offerings. The company made only one configuration of its mountain sled—the Sidewinder M-TX 162 Limited Edition model—available, and only during its spring check “Power Surge” sales event. No in-season MY2019 Yamaha mountain sleds were produced.
For MY2020, they’ve gone further in the attempt to clear our dealer inventories by not producing a MY2020 Sidewinder M-TX at all in North America. Yamaha mountain riders looking for a new unit here will have to search out a MY2018 or older in-season unit with the help of dealer transfer program in the Yamaha dealership network.
We’re not sure what their product offering will look like when Yamaha comes back to the table with a new mountain sled in the future—and they’re not saying for now. But we’ll be watching.
There are a number of good reasons why sledders snow check new snowmobiles in the springtime. So if you’re in the market for a new sled next winter, you’ll definitely want to consider what’s available exclusively this spring. There is some fantastic new tech that’s cropped up in mountain sleds for MY2020, and the manufacturers are betting on riders wanting to own some of it.