This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing transportation equipment, not elsewhere classified. The transportation equipment classified under this industry includes specialty vehicles and all-terrain vehicles for military, industrial, and agricultural purposes; towing bars and systems and trailers for transporting animals; recreational vehicles, such as snowmobiles, water jet-skis, golf carts and recreational allterrain vehicles; boat trailers; and wheelbarrows. Associated establishments involved in manufacturing industrial vehicles are discussed in SIC 3537: Industrial Trucks, Tractors, Trailers, and Stackers.
336214 (Travel Trailer and Camper Manufacturing)
332212 (Hand and Edge Tool Manufacturing)
336999 (All Other Transportation Equipment Manufacturing)
Shipments of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, golf carts, and personal watercraft totaled more than $4.5 billion in 1997. This was a sharp increase from the industry's level of shipments only five years earlier and, in several categories, represented gains of 100 percent or better. Shipments of gasoline- or electric-powered ATVs, for example, climbed from a level of $341 million in 1992 to $934 million in 1997. Sales of self-propelled golf carts more than doubled from $382 million in 1992 to $768 million in 1997.
In 2001, most of the leading establishments in this field had interests in different segments within the industry. Polaris Industries Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of snowmobiles and the number two producer of ATVs, was the undisputed U.S. industry leader. Based in Medina, Minnesota, Polaris employed a workforce of 3,500 and reported sales of $1.52 billion. Another major player in the U.S. industry was Arctic Cat Inc., also headquartered in Minnesota. Arctic Cat, which markets both snowmobiles and ATVs, reported sales of $556 million and 1,200 employees. Augusta, Georgia-based Club Car Inc. rounded out the top three, with sales of $222 million and 1,200 employees.
Although this market was heavily influenced during the 1990s by foreign competition, coming largely from Japanese and Canadian firms—Canada's Bombardier, manufacturer of the popular Ski-Doo brand snowmobile and Sea-Doo personal watercraft, in particular—by 2003 many of these competitors had left the market.
Japanese companies active in the U.S. transportation equipment market included Suzuki Motor Corp., which marketed the QuadRunner ATV; Yamaha Motor Company Ltd., producer of the WaveRunner personal watercraft and the Kodiak line of ATVs; Honda Motor Company Ltd., the world's largest manufacturer of ATVs; and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., producer of the Mule line of ATVs and the Jet Ski personal watercraft.
All-terrain vehicles, built with wide tires for driving over difficult terrain and road conditions, originally were produced primarily for military purposes. For this reason, the prosperity and growth of this segment of the industry was long dependent on government defense spending. With decreases in defense spending during the 1990s, manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles began to diversify. As of 2003, more than 15 million people owned ATVs for either work, recreation, or both, and the market was continuing to grow.
The biggest sector in the transportation equipment market was the category including snowmobiles and personal watercraft. The market for watercraft, in particular, was rising as of 2002. Gasoline-and electric-powered allterrain vehicles and parts accounted for the next largest percent of the total transportation equipment market. Sales of ATVs were growing quickly as of 2002, keeping the industry leaders on top despite decreases in snowmobile sales. According to Thomas Tiller, CEO of Polaris, the technology for manufacturing such diverse products in these segments is very much the same.
In 1954, Polaris Industries became the first American manufacturer to produce snowmobiles. In the United States, snowmobile sales reached their peak in 1971, having more than 500,000 sold. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, snowmobile sales decreased dramatically, the "victims of higher energy costs, recessions, a few
snowless winters, and a serious rash of overbuilding by manufacturers," said Forbes. By 1983 only 87,000 snowmobiles were sold in the United States. At the beginning of the 1990s, however, sales figures and profits began to increase again, with Polaris' revenues almost doubling between 1994 and 1996. Sales were still slow in the early 2000s, due to light winters. More than half of the snowmobiles in the United States are located in three states: Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
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Lazich, Robert S., ed. Market Share Reporter. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2004.
"Minnesota-Based Snowmobile Makers Report Sluggish Sales." Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, 31 January 2003.
"Polaris Industries CEO Interview." The America's Intelligence Wire, 10 January 2003.
Prater, Lisa Foust. "Side by Side: Ultimate ATV Add-Ons." Successful Farming, November 2002.
"Profit Increases at Polaris." The New York Times, 15 October 2003.
Shepherd, Mary. "Sell ATVs with Safety in Mind." Implement & Tractor, May-June 2003.
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic and Employment Projections. 11 February 2004. Available from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.toc.htm .