Boating Industry

February 2016

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30 | Boating Industry | February 2016 /// Market Trends /// This gives dealers a great deal of flexibility, so they can more effectively meet the needs of their customers." Although virtually every pontoon builder would agree that advances in outboard technol- ogy have benefited pontoon sales, advances in electric power have also contributed to the cat- egory's continued growth. Electrically powered pontoons have become the boat of choice on countless lakes across the U.S. and Canada with gas engine or horsepower restrictions. "Pontoon boats are particularly well- matched to electric power," said Torqeedo Inc. president, Steve Trkla. "We recognized this al- most seven years ago when we came out with our first Cruise motor. Today we work with 18 different pontoon boat manufacturers, with ei- ther factory programs or programs at the dealer level. The reason electric propulsion works so well with pontoons is because of its high torque. It has the power to move a large load easily. At the same time, battery technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, which allows more power and greater run times while taking up less space in the boat." Trkla expects demand for electrically pow- ered pontoons to continue to grow, and not just as a result of increasing numbers of lakes in parts of the country coming under horsepower restrictions. "We're seeing more and more environmental regulations around simply having gas pumps on lakes," he notes. "In some areas we know of lakes where gas is no longer available on the water, because the cost of meeting new environmental regulations was so high that the marina just said forget it, it's not worth the trouble. As the time comes for marinas to update or replace their fuel storage facilities, we're going to see this come up more and more. For the boater, it's a whole lot easier to just plug the boat in at the end of the day than it is to continually have to drive into town with a couple of Jerry cans, and have to keep hauling them up and down to the dock. So we expect demand for electric outboards will continue to grow, and most of those engines will likely be pushing pontoons." Master of versatility Regardless of how it may be powered, pontoon boats stand unmatched in terms of comfort and versatility. With their single deck layout, com- fortable furniture, spacious layouts and their abil- ity to do so many different things well, pontoons have clearly gained market share at the expense of other categories. "I believe pontoons will absolutely continue Today's pontoons offer extensive entertainment options.

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