Kawasaki is one of the most well-known powersport brands on the market. It’s a lesser-known fact that besides jet skis, bikes, and ATV/UTVs, the company manufactured snowmobiles from 1977 to 1982. If you want to find out more about these iconic sleds, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know about Kawasaki snowmobiles under one roof.
You can also find the best sources for buying one in this post!
Kawasaki Snowmobile History
Who Made Sno-Jet Snowmobile?
The history of Kawasaki snowmobiles begun with the acquisition of another snowmobile brand, known as a “Sno-Jet.” These snowmobiles appeared on the market in the mid-‘60s and were produced by a Canadian manufacturer.
Sno-Jet was established in 1965 and became one of the most popular brands in the following years in the U.S. and Canada.
It’s a fun fact that in the first year only 25 Sno-Jet snowmobiles were produced! But the demand for these sleds had been growing, so the company recruited more than 100 new employees.
The business rapidly expanded and in 1968 the company had already sold no less than 15,000 sleds. And demand continued to rise!
Finally, in 1968 Sno-Jet was acquired by the Glastron Boat Company and its headquarters was moved to Minnesota from Quebec. However, the majority of Sno-Jet snowmobiles were still manufactured in Canada.
The most successful year of the company was arguably 1970, when more than 30,000 Sno-Jet sleds were produced! The company offered more than 20 models with many different engine options.
In the early ‘70s the snowmobile market boomed, and as a result about 100 new sled manufacturers entered the market.
As you might assume, this didn’t have a positive effect on Sno-Jet’s sales figures! Although these reliable sleds remained popular among buyers, sales numbers began to decline.
After the quick boom, the oil crisis hit the market in 1973, which also contributed to the decline in demand.
In the following year, the production of Sno-Jet snowmobiles dropped about 40% and the company’s fleet started to shrink.
In 1976 Glastron Boat Company had no choice but to sell the Sno-Jet to Kawasaki.
What Year Did Kawasaki Start to Manufacture Snowmobiles?
It’s safe to say that Kawasaki started to manufacture snowmobiles in 1977 when it acquired the sinking Sno-Jet. The large dealer network for Sno-Jets was attractive to the Japanese manufacturer and offered a smooth entry to this market. Surprisingly, Kawasaki stuck with the “Sno-Jet” brand name until the end of the decade.
In 1978 Kawasaki introduced a completely new model line. The sleds had new model names and were already powered by Kawasaki engines.
It’s a lesser-known fact that Kawasaki was an engine supplier for Arctic Cat, which was replaced by Suzuki in 1976.
It was not only the engines, but the whole machines were being manufactured in the facilities of Kawasaki, as the company didn’t want to use the assets of Sno-Jet.
The headquarter was relocated to Nebraska, but the majority of the employees resigned as they refused to move to the new state.
Another fun fact is that the early Kawasaki snowmobiles were manufactured by Arctic Cat, and were released under the Sno-Jet brand name!
After two years of production, Kawasaki started to market the sleds under its own brand name.
Why did Kawasaki Stop Making Snowmobiles?
One of the reasons why Kawasaki stopped making snowmobiles was bad timing. The snowmobile market suffered from high oil prices and poor snow conditions, which led to low sales figures. As a result, Kawasaki’s snowmobile divisions accumulated a lot of debt, so the company finally canceled its entire snowmobile line in 1982.
What’s more, according to Supertraxmag, Kawasaki sleds weren’t as good as their marketing.
The Japanese manufacturer was well-known for its lucrative advertisements and huge marketing budget.
Although Kawasaki sleds were nicely designed and featured a lot of bells and whistles, they weren’t as great as the manufacturer promised.
Consequently, the sales figures did not meet the expectations of the company.
Just weeks before the 1983 model line was released, Kawasaki reviewed the performance of its snowmobile line.
The debt that the company has accumulated surprised the management who instantly decided to cancel the entire snowmobile division!
What Years Did Kawasaki Make Snowmobiles?
Kawasaki actually manufactured snowmobiles from 1977 to 1982. However, in the first years these sleds were marketed as “Sno-jets.” So, if you are looking for a Kawasaki snowmobile for sale, you will find models under this brand name from only the 1980-1982 model years!
Kawasaki Snowmobile Models
Kawasaki produced several iconic snowmobiles, but the most popular models were arguably the Interceptor and Invader. These flagship sleds featured the most bells and whistles and were powered by high-performance engines. The other models in Kawasaki’s lineup were as follows:
- Kawasaki Drifter
- Kawasaki Intrigue
- Kawasaki Inviter
- Kawasaki Intruder
- Kawasaki LTD
Kawasaki Snowmobiles for Sale
Although they look old and outdated, vintage Kawasaki snowmobiles are still very popular, especially among younger riders.
Let’s face it, new sleds are quite expensive so many can’t afford them! Unlike new shiny machines, vintage Kawasaki sleds are cheap to buy and much easier to maintain.
If you want to read more about the advantages of vintage sleds, don’t miss our detailed post here!
If you are considering buying one, you can still find many great Kawasaki snowmobiles for sale on Craigslist, eBay, and other dedicated snowmobile classified sites.
Besides these sources, you can also find good deals at Kawasaki snowmobile forums and FB groups.
Before you make your purchase, it’s recommended that you do extensive research. There are many pros and cons of each model from part supply to reliability issues.
You can always find a ton of useful info if you dig deeper into the forum threads that are dedicated to Kawasaki snowmobiles!
Conclusion – Does Kawasaki Make Snowmobiles?
To the greatest regret of many fans, Kawasaki doesn’t currently produce snowmobiles. This surprises many buyers as the Japanese company is one of the most well-known powersport manufacturers on the market! Unlike sleds, many great motorcycles, jet skis and UTVs/ATVs can be found in Kawasaki’s fleet.
Kawasaki snowmobiles were in production from 1977 to 1982. Their story was short but adventurous!
The Japanese company entered the snowmobile market acquiring the declining Sno-Jet. In 1977 Kawasaki released several new models, which were surprisingly manufactured by Arctic Cat in the first year but used the Sno-Jet name.
Unfortunately, the timing was bad, the oil crisis hit the industry and the sales numbers started to decline. Kawasaki’s snowmobile division could not become profitable after accumulating a ton of debt over these hard years.
Finally, Kawasaki ceased its complete snowmobile line in 1982, just weeks before the introduction of the new models.
Consequently, if you are looking for a Kawasaki snowmobile for sale, you should take a look at the used market!