FOCUS – PWC 2005

That audible gasp you may have heard this spring was probably the personal watercraft industry breathing one huge, collective sigh of relief. Forced to contend with an increasingly downward spiral in sales that has come to sum up the majority of the past decade, the industry finally experienced a welcome, albeit small uptick in 2003.
All concerned — OEMs, aftermarket manufacturers and dealers — wondered whether that smallest of spikes was just a blip on the radar…or an indicator that the market was finally beginning to hold steady ground.
While the much-anticipated 2004 PWC sales number was in fact down from the previous year — 79,500 units were sold in ’04 in comparison to 80,600 in ’03 — the difference was negligible. That once-downward line on the sales graph remained relatively flat, meaning that the market appeared to have finally found a way to hold its steady ground.
A failure to achieve market growth being called “good” news? Actually, yes. The past year will mark the third consecutive season that the industry has stemmed a sales decline, and that’s not even factoring in the effect that was likely felt when Polaris abruptly pulled out of the industry before summer even kicked off. A mere four manufacturers carried most of the load in 2004, a fact that puts a relatively flat sales year into an entirely new perspective.
In this issue of Powersports Business, we talked with watercraft manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers to get a picture of the trends they are seeing for 2005. Will sales continue to remain relatively level? Could new product offerings attract an increase in consumers? What other factors influence the PWC market? These are all topics covered in the following pages.

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