By Jeff Hemmel
Preliminary data is in for the 2008 calendar year, and as expected the PWC market reflected the steep economic downturn gripping the country.
Sales numbers based on early information from 27 states, reflecting 62 percent of the United States, indicate the market is down just more than 27 percent for the period of December 2007-December 2008. The information was gleaned from data compiled by Statistical Surveys Inc., which tracks state registrations.
State By State
While a full 23 states are absent from the initial tally, states represented in this early look at the year include perennial powerhouses Florida, California and Texas, along with Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington.
And as you might expect, those biggest states often proved the biggest hit by the economic crisis. Florida was down more than 34 percent year-to-date, with California’s numbers off even more dramatically at nearly 49 percent. Other hard-hit states include Arizona (down 52 percent), Georgia (44 percent) and Michigan (29 percent). Texas, however, proved a surprising bright spot, with sales of nearly 6,400 units defying the national average at a scant 1.6 percent lower than 2007.
While certainly causing pause, the data also points to another potential silver lining in this otherwise dark cloud. In many cases, December sales showed customers were still willing to get out and take advantage of manufacturer incentives to buy. Comparing the months of December 2008 to December 2007 showed a single-digit loss of only 9.2 percent.
The powerhouse states of Florida, California and Texas were showing mostly positive results for the month, with Florida trimming its losses into the single digits (8.6 percent), while California was actually up 5 percent and Texas on par with December 2007. Georgia was actually up more than 76 percent month-over-month, with Oklahoma, Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, New Hampshire and New Mexico all also showing an increase in sales for the period.
Manufacturer by Manufacturer
As to just what position each manufacturer takes in these state-by-state numbers, the information, once again supplied by Statistical Surveys Inc., comes with a caveat. Different manufacturers tend to have their individual strongholds, and without all states reporting the data might overlook more than one or more strong showings by an individual brand. That said, however, the bigger states reporting do give us an early look at what might be happening in the PWC segment.
Florida (6,422 units sold), Texas (6,395), California (4,026), Michigan (2,385), North Carolina (2,344), New York (2,338) and New Jersey (2,062) were the top seven states with preliminary sales data. In Florida, Yamaha overtook Sea-Doo for the first time since 2005, capturing a reported 41.7 percent of the market to Sea-Doo’s 39.3 percent. In Texas, Sea-Doo retained its edge, but the figures show the market leader’s share in the state declining while Yamaha advances. Sea-Doo remains the dominant brand in California, capturing 44.7 percent of the market to Yamaha’s 32.7. Sea-Doo also remains king in Michigan (51.3 percent to Yamaha’s 29.7), but Yamaha has taken over Sea-Doo’s recent lead in North Carolina, in 2008 capturing 44.5 percent of the market to Sea-Doo’s 39.2. As to the northeastern strongholds of New York and New Jersey, Sea-Doo enjoys a decided advantage in New York (52.1 percent to 26.9 percent), while Yamaha enjoys a slight edge (38.5 percent-36.4 percent) in New Jersey. Kawasaki easily takes a distant third spot nationwide, although Honda now edges the market’s one-time dominant player in several states.
As to the best-selling models, however, Yamaha is already claiming the crown for ’09. Based on a sales season that started Oct. 1, 2008, the company reports that four out of the top five best-selling models are in fact WaveRunners, with the FX SHO Cruiser claiming the top spot, followed by the VX Deluxe, FX SHO and VX Cruiser.
We’ll take a look at final numbers once they become available.