Yamaha’s success in 2012 brings slight changes

Subtle differences highlight WaveRunner’s 2013 lineup

Yamaha WaveRunner dealers in August were shown the company’s 2013 PWC lineup in Puerto Rico, and the results proved very familiar for most. In some years, that assessment would be a disappointment. But given the success the brand has enjoyed in 2012 — sales are up vs. 2011 and several models continue to top industry sales charts — a little more of the same isn’t such a bad thing.

Dave Bamdas, co-owner RIVA Motorsports, the world’s largest PWC dealership, gave the new models high marks.

“I am very happy with the 2013 Yamaha PWC & Boat lineup,” said Bambas, who operates Florida locations in Pompano Beach, Miami and Key Largo. “The PWC colors and graphics look great. The sport boats had many refinements including the introduction of the new 192 series (19-foot hull with supercharged 1.8-liter engine). I understand that manufacturers can’t release all new product every year. Last year Yamaha introduced an all new FX series along with the 190 sport boat models.”

The 2013 Yamaha WaveRunner lineup figures to gain from momentum in 2012, when industry-wide sales figure to rise 3-4 percent above the previous year’s levels.

Industry trending upward
In a phone interview with Powersports Business before the dealer meeting, Yamaha marketing communications manager Andrew Cullen noted that the industry as a whole has enjoyed a better-than-average 2012, with industry-wide sales expected to finish 3-4 percent above 2011 unit sales totals. That marks the first true increase in years.

Cullen also noted the positive inventory situation for both dealers and OEMs. Rather than having to resort to heavy discounting, most all manufacturers were able to keep prices somewhat firm and inventories in check. Combined with current low-interest rates, Cullen says that Yamaha “is feeling positively bullish.”

The 2013 models that the company would later reveal to dealers are nearly identical to the current 2012 units. The 2013 models are classified into Luxury Performance, Performance and Versatility segments. Models in the Luxury Performance line include the FX Cruiser SHO, FX SHO, FX Cruiser HO and FX HO. Cullen notes the SHO proved the best-selling luxury performance model for 2012, despite a spring shipping date. Yamaha reps are eager to see what the craft can do in its first full year of production.

“There is not another watercraft in the industry that is as in tune with today’s luxury performance buyer as the Yamaha FX Series,” product manager Scott Watkins contends. “Not only does this series feature the largest displacement engine in the industry, but it is packed with the latest innovations and technology. From Cruise Assist to Neutral Gear to the theater-style seating, the FX Series offers consumers a fun, fast, comfortable ride with amenities and features that exceed what they thought was possible in a personal watercraft.”

Top-seller in its market
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the once value-minded VX line is perhaps now better described by its Versatility family moniker. Consisting of the VX Cruiser, VX Deluxe and VX Sport, it continues to shine eight years into its product life. For all eight of those years, one model — either the Deluxe or Cruiser — has proven to be the best-selling model in the industry.

Yamaha national marketing manager Bryan Seti sums up the craft’s success in the simplest of terms: “Our VX Series offers the reliability, performance and value that entry-level buyers demand.”

The 2013 lineup was released with an eye toward reliability and showroom appeal.

Cullen notes the value of the third line — Performance — has already been proven on the racetrack. Yamaha’s FZ models (FZR and FZS) have proven successful in the Pro Open class, and the VXR and VXS have done likewise in the Naturally Aspirated Runabout class.

“Our performance models have demonstrated their leadership on the race course with multiple national and world titles,” Seti said.

While obviously familiar, some subtle changes have been introduced into the lineup. According to Cullen, Yamaha chose to focus on the two areas they judged to be most important to consumers — reliability and showroom appeal. The former is an obvious Yamaha trademark. To further the latter, select models have received new seat stitching, improvements in the models’ metallic paint, and in the case of the FZS and VXR, a new bold color choice dubbed Velocity Yellow.

Boat line making a charge
While PWC continue to have the brand’s utmost attention, it’s the boat line that has truly grown in recent years, and the company’s attention to it is obvious. Yamaha currently has the best-selling boat models in the 21- and 24-foot range (with four models in each segment), and for 2013 will be introducing a new 19-foot series — the AR 192 and SX 192 — to compliment the current AR 190 and SX 190 and satisfy the more upscale consumer. Both 192 models feature the supercharged version of the 1.8-liter engine, as well as more premium appointments.

How big is the boat business growing? Yamaha recently purchased five more acres adjacent to their Tennessee production facility, and plans to quickly expand production capacity by 33 percent to meet the growing demand.

“This is an exciting lineup for Yamaha,” Seti said of the entire Yamaha WaveRunner and boats offering. “The lineup offers a model we know connects with every type of consumer.”

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