Pompano, Fla.-based Riva Motorsports, the world’s largest retailer of personal watercraft, recently entered into a contractual agreement with Austrian manufacturer Hydrospace to distribute the company’s products — namely the S4 turbocharged, four-stroke standup — in the United States.
As part of the agreement, Riva will set up a U.S.-based dealer network, handle any warranty claims, stock parts for distribution and stock performance kits for dealers. The company also will offer technical support.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for us,” Riva’s Dave Bamdas said of the company’s decision to take on the Hydrospace distribution. “We like to do everything watercraft. We feel the Hydrospace is a good quality product, and it’s really in line with our racing and competition background at Riva.”
According to Bamdas, Riva plans to keep things relatively tight in this first year, approving roughly 20-25 dealers in the nation’s major watercraft markets, a list which was still being whittled down from a list of applicants at press time.
Units, which will be available in July, will be shipped from Austria to the Port of Miami, and then stocked in Riva’s Pompano Beach warehouse facilities before distribution to dealers. In addition to the crafts themselves, dealers also will be able to order two Hydrospace-manufactured, bolt-on performance kits, a 140-hp Limited package or a 160-hp Superstock variant. According to Bamdas, the Limited package has already generated a great deal of interest with U.S. customers. It includes a more aggressively mapped ECU, larger intercooler and different impeller and pump ring. Kits reportedly average about a two-hour installation.
Much Already In Place
Initial talks between the two companies began around the time of last year’s world finals, an event in which Hydrospace craft achieved tremendous success and generated a good amount of buzz amongst performance-minded U.S. consumers.
“They needed a U.S. distributor,” Bamdas told Powersports Business. “They can’t sell direct to dealers. They need somebody here to handle their warranties, to handle their parts distribution, handle their marketing. They needed a U.S. agent. We felt it fit with what we were doing.”
Riva already had many pieces in place. The company’s performance parts line currently boasts a relatively wide and established dealer network, complete with full-time tech support people available by phone. They also had the sales force, the warehousing facilities and a solid knowledge of the personal watercraft performance market.
“We just felt that we had the market for it, and it would be a nice addition to our offerings,” noted Bamdas. The company sells all personal watercraft lines, including Yamaha, Sea-Doo, Kawasaki and Honda, and is the leading manufacturer of PWC performance parts.
Bamdas is realistic about the Hydrospace’s overall potential, admitting the company will likely not set the world on fire in terms of sales. Instead, he likens the craft to a Lamborghini or Ferrari, elite machines that cost far more than the average vehicle, but ones that consumers will pay dearly for because they have such a performance advantage and heritage.
“The craft is extremely exotic,” says Bamdas. “It’s got sexy lines. It’s a really neat machine. It’s the first four-stroke standup, and it’s turbocharged.
“The feedback that I’ve gotten from the people who have purchased them, that have imported them from Europe and through the grey market, is a great level of satisfaction with the craft.”
Hydrospace has already been sold for the last year in Europe. Currently there are about 300 units in circulation through a European dealer network. “Open up a French magazine or a European magazine, and they’re very prominent as far as the racing scene over there,” says Bamdas. “They’re selling very well.”
Feel The Passion
Barring any surprising announcements from the four primary OEMs, the S4 should prove the only four-stroke standup on the market. Even should one of the other players bring a four-stroke to the table, the Hydrospace will still likely stand apart for its high-performance advantages and race-ready profile.
The craft’s German-built Weber engine is CARB Three Star compliant (EPA 2008), meaning the S4 also will be the only standup that is allowed for sale in California and New York, two states that enforce tougher emissions laws. The craft features a wealth of performance-minded upgrades in stock form, including a stainless steel performance pump, interchangeable rings in the pump nozzle, a drop nozzle, carbon fiber hood and aluminum handlepole. The U.S. retail price for the stock craft will be $12,995.
Says Bamdas: “It’s definitely a niche market, but they’ve built a very competitive craft for that niche market. Hydrospace definitely has a passion for what they’re doing.” psb
Copyright 2006 Powersports Business