Boating Industry

May 2016

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May 2016 | Boating Industry | 43 /// Market Trends /// common thread in outboard sales right now is the growing integration of high technology. Ca- pabilities like improved integration with digital displays at the helm, or the ability to automati- cally log engine use data that can be downloaded by a tech during scheduled maintenance to en- sure critical service items aren't missed, provide tangible benefi ts for all boaters, whether new- bies or old salts. New features that improve the consumer's overall boating experience in some meaningful way, and make it easier to enjoy boating, are what will drive future growth. "Boating doesn't exist in a vacuum, and as an industry we need to remember that we have to compete with other consumer products for a consumer's interest," Foulkes said. "If someone gets out of their car and into a boat, it shouldn't be a jarring experience. They get out of some- thing that's reliable and easy to use, and they want the boat to be reliable and easy to use too." Toward that end, look to present-day auto- mobiles for a hint at where next generation out- boards may go. Technologies like push-button start with a security smart key have existed in cars for years. Next-generation technology, such as the ability to start the engine with a cell phone so it can warm up as the owner walks down the dock and loads up their gear, can further en- hance the boater's everyday experience. Automakers have found ways to improve their product and add features that consumers demand, and they've managed to do that while simultaneously holding prices to affordable levels. Boating faces the same challenge, Eckman said. "Outboard manufacturers have done a good job of improving the ownership experience, both on the water, and off," he notes. "The next challenge for the industry is to continue to strive to make it more affordable. Reducing the maintenance requirements and improving fuel economy are big steps toward that. But as an industry we need to continue to innovate and constantly improve." The elephant in the technology room is the prospect of tougher future emission standards and how they will be met. "New emission standards for outboards that were due to be implemented in 2016 have been waived for now, but they will come about at some point and that's going to change things dramatically because it's going to force a re- think of how outboards are engineered," Ashley said. "As they did with sterndrives, those future regulations are likely going to force the use of a catalyst and closed cooling, so a lot of things are going to have to change." Portable outboards like Suzuki's DF4A are getting lighter and more effi cient

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