89% of CC Owners Want... - 03/12/2008

Consumers want fuel efficiency and high-speed, too!

Then things began to change as engine company marketing departments decided it was easier and more efficient to buy boat companies than it was to actually sell the public on the merits of its outboard products. What a master stroke of marketing genius!

Tail Wags the Dog

Thereupon a mad dash ensued as Brunswick and Outboard Marine Corp. scrambled to buy up as many boat companies as they could for both their outboard and sterndrive iron. Yamaha got in toward the end of the frenzy. In the hallowed halls of the two outboard giants in Wisconsin, they called it “buying transoms.” We don’t know what they called it in Hamamatsu, Japan, home of Yamaha, but our guess is it could be translated something like “#@&?!*%#?!.”

Today, things have settled down, and boat brands fall into roughly three camps:

  1. Engine-maker-owned boat companies offering no brand choice.
  2. Independently-owned boat companies who will put on nearly any outboard you want.
  3. Independently-owned boat companies offering no brand choice.

Our little survey, then, may indicate one reason why sales have been so contentious among boat brands the last several years in the outboard business as consumers sought to exercise their freedom of choice. What to do when their favorite boat brand was only available with their non-favorite outboard brand?

Mixed Messages about Speed and Efficiency

72% of the respondents said they would give up top speed to save money on fuel and engine costs. 17% said they would not give up that thrill of high speed, and 11% didn’t know what they preferred.

83% said that range and fuel efficiency were “more important” than top speed, but when asked how fast they wanted to go, most said they would “like to go” faster than 40 mph. On most of the center consoles we have tested, best cruise efficiency is from about 21 mph to 34 mph, depending on the size of the boat, number of engines, and horsepower.

Could we say that center console owners are of two minds when it comes to this important trade off?