New hull, LinQ accessories, audio system added to lineup
Riding along the Colorado River between Laughlin, Nevada, and Lake Havasu, Arizona, it was obvious that while the ride is important to PWC owners, taking the vehicles to the beach and socializing with family and friends was often the goal of the trip.
While traversing the no-wake zone of the Topock Gorge or riding by the campsites at Pirate Cove just south of Needles, California, several groups of friends and family were spotted with their PWC and boats pulled up to the beach, while they swam, listened to music and relaxed. Those are the customers that Sea-Doo is especially aiming to serve with some of the updates to its 2018 lineup.
“Based on the research that we did a few years ago, we found out that there’s close to 40 percent of the watercraft business that was not well served in terms of product, and this 40 percent is focused on the destination, not only on the ride, but focused on destination,” Pascal Vincent, director of Global Product Management for Sea-Doo and Ski-Doo.
To that end, Sea-Doo developed an “onboard living room” concept for its new platform on its GTX line, RXT line and Wake Pro 230 models. The modular passenger seat can be removed and turned around, when the PWC is stopped, allowing the passenger and driver to face each other, have a conversation and even a picnic lunch. When the seat is completely removed, the already 366-square-inch swim platform becomes even larger, allowing one or two people to lay back and relax on it.
The new Sea-Doo platform also includes the LinQ accessory-mounting system. LinQ has been available in the Ski-Doo line for more than a decade, and it was more recently introduced to the Can-Am off-road vehicles. Now, it joins the Sea-Doo GTX and RXT lineup, as well as the Wake Pro 230. The system allows LinQ accessories to easily attach to the PWC, and the LinQ onboard connectors can drop down when not in use. To start, Sea-Doo is coming to market with three accessories: a 4-gallon fuel caddy, a 5.5-gallon cargo bag and a 4.2-gallon cooler. An easy-attach ski pylon is available as an option on the GTX and RTX lineup, as well as 3-Up Sparks, but it comes standard on the Wake lineup.
Though accessories haven’t typically been hot sellers for the PWC segment, Sea-Doo believes the ease of the LinQ system can change that. Vincent pointed out that attaching a cooler to a typical PWC can take 20 minutes, and depending on how it’s strapped down, the PWC could be damaged. Installing the new LinQ cooler takes a matter of seconds.
“[The Ski-Doo LinQ system] took two years, three years, and it was taking off incredibly, so we decided to expand it on ATV and side-by-side and now on personal watercraft because the system is so simple, but clever at the same time. It became a no-brainer for us to extend it on the Sea-Doo line,” he said. “And interestingly, we found out as well, there’s a lot of cross-selling, so the same customer is buying let’s say a side-by-side, an ATV and sometimes a personal watercraft. And if they are buying, let’s say a fuel caddy or a cooler, they will most likely move it from one product to another.”
In addition to the LinQ system, Sea-Doo also introduced its new 100-watt audio system, which is standard on the GTX Limited models but available as a $700 factory-installed option on all standard GTX, RXT and Wake Pro 230 models. For those who don’t install it from the factory, the system will be available for $949.99 as an aftermarket accessory. The system has been designed to run for one hour after the vehicle is stopped. It will shut itself down to maintain the battery for the next start.
Riders can listen to their music via a Bluetooth connection with the audio system, eliminating any hardwired connections. Phones can be stored in a waterproof, shockproof compartment in the glove box. The GTX Limited models include a USB connector, for the phone to keep charged while in the box, while the USB is optional on the other GTX, RXT and Wake Pro 230 models.
“At the end of the day, I do believe that the 80/20 will apply to this, so 80 percent of the personal watercraft will be sold with a sound system, maybe 20 percent [won’t], and it can go up to 100 percent, I’m pretty sure,” Vincent said. “We’re talking about $700 U.S. versus those aftermarket sound systems, which are several thousands of dollars in certain cases, so at that price, it’s a no brainer; everybody will want it.”
The GTX, RXT and Wake Pro 230 models also include a new 27-gallon storage system that’s accessible from a seated position. And Sea-Doo offers storage bin organizers for that as add-on accessories.
Vincent said these features give the new models showroom value. “For sure [dealers] must showcase it with all the accessories possible because they are so clever and so natural to the experience that I do believe they must at least have a sound system and just put a cooler at the back of it and just explain what you can do and why it’s there.”
The sound system has a demo mode for dealers, where they can hook a separate power source to the unit, so as not to drain the unit’s battery.
On top of the lifestyle features Sea-Doo has brought to its new platform, the units also have improved stability and control offered through a lower seat high and a new deep-V ST3 hull. The platform allows for easier reboarding, and several enthusiast media on the Sea-Doo media trip remarked at the carving ability of the hull.
“This is extremely important,” Vincent said. “When you know that over 50 percent of the buyers are new to the sport, so they’ve never been on a personal watercraft before, you want to make sure that those guys feel confident when they step on a unit. And stability for us was a very important criteria. But at the same time, we had to deliver for the enthusiast cornering ability and off-shore ability and so on. So I think we came with a very good end product, having a high stability at rest with the offset chine, and a very, very comfortable ride on rough water for those enthusiasts, so there’s no compromise there, and I think for those new to the sport, it will be a game changer for them.”
Sea-Doo knows all about those new to the sport of personal watercraft. After the company introduced the entry-level Spark four years ago, it has seen sales of those units and others increase.
“For the last four, five years the industry has been growing. And if you look at what the Spark did, especially the Spark when we introduced it in 2014, we’ve seen growth since then, and the Spark itself grew the industry. If you compare the industry volume, the North American industry volume from 2011 to 2017, we’ve seen a 51 percent industry growth, and a big portion of that growth is coming from the rec-lite segment, which is fueled by the Spark,” Vincent reported.
For 2018, Sea-Doo has added a 3-Up Spark Trixx to the lineup, following a record-breaking year with the new-for-2017 Trixx.
“It’s funny because we ran out of Trixx; I’ll be honest, and it was a great, great seller — the highest sell-through we’ve had in our watercraft history. It was amazing,” Vincent said. “And dealers were converting 3-Ups into a Trixx because we were selling the package, let’s say with the VTS and those step wedges and so on, and converting whether a 2-Up or a 3-Up into a Trixx version, and they did a lot of conversions because we underestimated the potential probably.”
It’s those models — and the new 2018 platform, Sea-Doo hopes — that are making the PWC segment standout as one that’s actually attracting new riders.
“Especially in the motorcycle industry, getting new blood into the sport, it’s difficult, whereas on the personal watercraft, we have it, but again, I think Spark helps to generate that new to the sport big time. And it’s a plus for BRP; it’s a plus for our dealers, but it’s a plus for the industry, the entire industry. So yes, I think we are in a very, very good position with the Spark and the new lineup, and I’m looking forward to seeing the future for Sea-Doo, especially in that.”