Can the PWC upswing continue? – May 15, 2006

One need only look at the sales numbers to realize that Yamaha’s decision to buck the initial trend toward high-dollar four-strokes and produce instead a vehicle for the masses has paid big dividends.
Several industry watchers, however, have speculated that many of those impressive first-year sales were to rental operations, who, enticed by the potential savings in fuel costs and the industry’s first 12-month warranty to a rental operator, made widespread changes to lineups that would not be repeated.
Are low-priced four-strokes truly cause for celebration? Have they found an audience outside of the rental market? And perhaps most important, can they sustain the momentum that set them apart in their introductory year?
According to two Yamaha/Sea-Doo dealers, the answers appear to be a resounding yes on all counts.
“Our VX110 sales this year are equal to the numbers last year when it was introduced,” says Riva Motorsports’ Dave Bamdas, Pompano Beach, Fla. “There were excellent sales last year when it was a new category, and they are no less this year. The idea that my rental accounts bought and will not buy again? Rental accounts buy every year. But equally important, the entry-level people seem to be here this year also, and they’re also buying GTIs.
“I believe it’s a sustainable market. When people come in and want a four-stroke, they’re not leaving with the price shock they did two years ago. We can now offer them the Sea-Doo GTI or the Yamaha VX110. They’ve got some real nice alternatives that are reasonably priced with the four-stroke technology and all the features they want.”
Parker Yamaha’s Eric Blodgett of Parker, Ariz., agrees on both points. For starters, he too notes that the better rental shops turn their boats over typically once a year, and at the minimum, every two seasons. But Blodgett also notes that the momentum perhaps begun by the rental fleets has carried over directly into the consumer chain.
“I think it is sustainable,” says Blodgett of the entry-level boom, noting that from his own experience, there seems to be more and more people enjoying the water again. psb

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