With a week to go until 2013 closes, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the highlights from the year. Sure, sales still aren’t where we’d like them to be, but customers are slowly trickling back into dealerships, and they’re getting antsy to get on new rides and refresh their gear.
2013 brought optimism from across the industry. Here are some of the things that stuck out to me as signs that we’re moving forward and beyond the negativity of the past.
Entry-level models invade industry. There’s no doubt that powersports is an industry that could use new blood. OEMs have recognized that, and they responded in force in 2013. Since its May unveiling, Honda’s Grom has been so popular dealers can’t keep enough of the models in their showrooms. Then, in November, Harley-Davidson unveiled its Street 500 and 750 models. Originally rumored to possibly be an overseas-only bike, the Street H-Ds are set to arrive in U.S. dealerships in 2014. On the PWC side, BRP lit a fire under the industry when it took the wraps off its $4,999 Spark. There’s no doubt that these and other models are igniting some fresh excitement for the industry. (Not sold on that fact? Ask Kawasaki how its Ninja 300 is selling.)
Side-by-side sales continue upswing. 2013 was another huge year for side-by-sides. Honda replaced its Big Red with a South Carolina-built Pioneer. Yamaha discontinued its Rhino and revealed its Georgia-built Viking. Arctic Cat started production of a 50-inch-wide Wildcat Trail. Can-Am’s Maverick lineup grew with the addition of the four-seater MAX. And of course Rangers and RZRs continued to fly out of dealership showrooms, though the OEM didn’t slow down in R&D, coming out with the RZR XP 1000 in October.
PSB reveals its first Power 50 lineup. For the second year in a row, Powersports Business honored some of the top dealerships in North America, this year expanding the program from 15 dealers to 50. Go AZ Motorcycles in Scottsdale took the top honor, but we were impressed with all 50 winners and are looking forward to seeing more dealerships apply for the program in 2014.
Marketplace Events hosts its first American International Motorcycle Expo. If you had the chance to take part in AIMExpo Oct. 16-20 in Orlando, I don’t know how you could’ve left without feeling a giant wave of optimism. The Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo was well attended; Happy Hours were lively; the Media Hub was always hopping, and the excitement that came out of the show was infectious. I’d chalk that up to big win for 2013, and we can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.
Snow, snow, snow! Early season snow across the country (Sorry, Texas), has already been huge for the snowmobile industry in the latter part of 2013. We’re hearing reports of dealers barely being able to keep up with the current snowmobile demand. As more than 11 inches have already fallen in the Twin Cities area, we get to hear all the time about the great start to the sled season. Let’s hope that continues into 2014.
Liz Keener is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s twice-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis and dealership conference, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.