Boating Industry

May 2016

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40 | Boating Industry | May 2016 /// Market Trends /// retail sales of engines of 200 or more horsepower were up by a further 19.4 percent over 2014. While sales of engines under 200 ponies grew at a more modest rate, mid-sized and portable outboards still showed a year- over-year sales uptick of 6.5 percent. The most dramatic sales growth continues to take place in the saltwater offshore fi shing segment, where twin, triple or quad installations on large center consoles are signifi cantly boosting overall outboard engine volumes. "The saltwater market is outpacing freshwater in terms of growth," notes Yamaha Marine Group President Ben Speciale. "The center console market is doing well, especially with respect to large boats. A big outboard boat today is considered to be 40 feet plus, and we have seen growth in this segment of over 300 percent since we launched our F350 in 2007. That engine was designed specifi cally to produce the torque to drive heavier and larger offshore boats." "The 300 horsepower segment and up is growing faster than anything else," agrees Jason Eckman, global product manager, market intelligence and demand planning for Evinrude. "Now we're seeing larger center con- soles, bigger bowriders, and even express cruisers designed for outboard power. You can tilt outboards up and out of the water, which is a huge consideration in saltwater. You can trim them up for operation in shallow water, and the serviceability is unbeatable." With its focus on single-engine installations, the freshwater market hasn't been able to match saltwater's explosive growth in terms of unit volumes, but on the strength of the strong pontoon segment it isn't exactly lagging behind either. Several outboard manufacturers note a smaller but parallel pattern of sales growth in freshwater, with a similar trend toward larger outboard engines. Speciale calls it "a saltwater trend in the freshwa- ter market," with consumers "buying up in horsepower as they move to more feature-rich boats." Fueling that demand is the growing popularity of large, three-tube pontoon boats that benefi t from even larger engines. Indeed, NMMA's 2015 data shows a 23.2 percent increase in average horsepower across all categories. "We're seeing a general migration upward in horsepower due to an increased desire for performance in all markets," said David Foulkes, Mercury Marine's vice president of engineering. "At the high end of the outboard marketplace we're seeing the Verado 350 and 400 horsepower engines occupying the top tier, where that position was once dominated by 225s and 250s. And we're seeing the same sort of upward migration in the mid-range as well, where boats that once would have a 60 on them now come with a 75 or a 90." The Tim Allen-like desire for more power isn't confi ned to the rec- reational boating market, notes Foulkes, who likens our appetite for horsepower to that of car buyers. Where four-door sedans with 300 or even 400 horsepower engines are now becoming increasingly com- monplace, the family ride from 20 years ago likely had half that power under its hood. The mid-range While overall sales increases in the outboard category are clearly being driven by larger engines, sales of mid-range and portable outboards also continue to exhibit year-over-year growth. In total volume, this segment represents a signifi cant proportion of the market, especially for fresh- water dealers. New engine designs aim to attract the attention of new The 300 hp and higher segment is the fastest growing for Evinrude

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