Boating Industry

January 2016

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34 | Boating Industry | January 2016 /// Market Trends /// November showed U.S. outboard engine ship- ments between November 2014 and October 2015 to be a full 4.9 percent higher than for the same period one year earlier. The picture is even rosier in Canada, where wholesale outboard ship- ments were reported to be up by 15.6 percent over the previous reporting period. Corresponding dol- lars were up by 21.9 percent. In its corresponding press release, NMMA noted that four-stroke out- boards, and higher-horsepower models in particu- lar, are driving the bulk of this growth. "When the market began to rebound it was led by outboard power," said Bower. "It started with aluminum fi shing boats and pon- toons, and now the saltwater segment is grow- ing because of the consumer's preference for outboard power. That's driven by the availabil- ity of larger, more powerful engines with new technologies like joystick controls, that make docking so easy that anyone can do it." The growing market share of outboards within the saltwater fi shing category has come at the expense of inboards and sterndrives, said Rob Parmentier, Marquis-Larson Boat Group president and CEO. "I/Os have been down every month for 10 years in a row," he said. "Technologically-speak- ing, outboard power has simply outpaced I/O. Both Mercury and Volvo Penta have both intro- duced great stuff, don't get me wrong, but the innovations within the outboard industry have been tremendous. The new engines offer better performance, better power-to-weight, better fuel economy, there's minimal winterization require- ments so they're more appealing to boaters in the northern part of the world, and you can tilt them right out of the water to keep marine growth off, which appeals particularly in saltwater. There's re- ally no downside. They don't smoke and they're quiet – you start up a new outboard and you can't hear it. You get incredible performance and mini- mal maintenance. That's what people want." Ripple effect While the bulk of the saltwater fi shing market continues to be concentrated in the Southeast, changes toward outboard power and more ver- satile, multi-role designs are having a ripple ef- fect that is being felt across North America. "We've seen growth accelerate in the South- east faster than anywhere else," Slikkers said. "But what we're also seeing is the acceptance of larger outboard engines and the greater utility of the boats themselves opening up new opportu- nities in other regions, like the Northeast or the Midwest. Pursuit boats made in Florida for off- shore ocean fi shing are also appealing to buyers on the Great Lakes, for example. The category is growing because of technological developments and improvements to the product, it's not tied to specifi c geography." It's even crossing international borders. "We didn't used to sell many center consoles in Canada, but that's starting to change," Par- mentier said. "People are using them as SUVs to go to their cottages, especially if their place is on an island and they need to transport a lot of stuff. A center console is great for hauling gear, and it's comparatively low maintenance so buyers can spend more time enjoying their boat and less time cleaning it. Even our 20-foot center console has a full stand-up head, so it appeals to families and not just hard-core fi shermen." "Our sales have increased by more than 20 percent compounding over the past three years." — Alan Lang, national/international sales manager for Scout Boats The Scout 420 LXF is one of a growing number of 40-foot boats hitting the water.

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