What Opportunities Will 2022 Bring for the Boating Industry?
The boating industry boomed massively in 2021 as people looked for new hobbies and activities to explore the great outdoors after the turmoil of 2020. New boat sales hit a 13-year high of 318,550 units in 2020, which is staggering when you consider where the market was ten years ago – only 178,000 were sold that year.
Although the industry is undoubtedly booming, there are several challenges in relation to environmental factors and consumer behavior. The continued presence of ethanol as fuel is worrying, and rising prices have driven a lot of casual boaters away from the popular pastime. Manufacturers are largely on top of these trends – even though boats are becoming increasingly powerful, they are also energy-efficient to meet these environmental needs.
Despite the increasing presence of new Covid-19 variants, most countries are not limiting movement in outdoor spaces and boating is an excellent way to take a break from everyday life away from the crowds.
Let’s look at some of the key trends that we can expect to hit the boating industry in 2022.
The Rise of Electric Boats
There is no doubt about it; electric boats are the future of boating. Foiling boats are one of the best options in this space and will be readily available on the market in 2022. They work by using a hydrofoil that deploys underwater, lifting the boat up and seemingly flying on airplane-like wings under the water. Candela is the first company to produce an electric foiling boat called the C-8 effectively, and with the rapid development of this technology, we could see more similar models from other companies in 2022.
Aside from lightweight models such as the C-8, we may have to wait a while for electric boats to fully take off. This is due to the enormous weight of the electric battery, causing more water to be displaced, and making the boat very inefficient. If we can reach a point where batteries can have the same energy capacity with reduced storage and weight, then electric boats of all styles will dominate the market.
Renting Boats Easily
For many people, buying a boat is simply not an affordable option. And this is no surprise – the average sale price for an individual boat last year was $146,905 (total amount sold divided by units). This number is skewed by the cost of yachts and other expensive boats but, nevertheless, it is a huge figure. This is where a concept such as the Freedom Boat Club is very useful – it allows people to rent boats anywhere in the US for a monthly subscription fee.
Given the overall increase in the price of boats, driven by the surge in sales, the mid-range boat is becoming a thing of the past. Casual boaters can use Freedom Boat Club as a kind of gateway drug to test out the idea of boating without dealing with a potentially overwhelming expense. Furthermore, owning a boat comes with maintenance costs and the pressure to use it regularly to make the purchase worthwhile. But a renting service takes away that hassle and gives less avid boaters something to consider in 2022.
No More Two-Stroke Outboards
The Evinrude outboard engine has been one of the most popular in its field for many decades, but they discontinued their 2-stroke outboard production in 2020, which signaled the end of an era for this type of engine. They stated in a press release: “This business segment was already facing challenges, and the impact of the current environment forced us to stop production of outboard engines immediately.” This reflects the change in consumer behavior towards more environmentally conscious boating.
As such, two-stroke outboards will continue to be phased out, with all modern outboards being four-stroke. This is due to the environmental concerns and efficiency of two-stroke outboards – four-stroke outboards can be as much as 90% cleaner in terms of emissions. Examples of four-stroke engines new to the boating world in 2022 include the Yamaha 250hp V6 engine with Digital Electric Steering and Mercury Marine’s 7.6-liter V12 600hp Verado, which is their most powerful to date.
A Long Wait for New Boats
Unfortunately, the rise in demand for boats has led to long wait times for those hoping for a new boat in 2022. According to a Michigan boat dealer, wait times for new boats start at three to even six months, or longer for unusual orders. Additionally, a yacht dealer in LA claimed in October 2021 that they had boats sold out until 2023, citing the problem being the inability to produce the yachts fast enough to match the demand.
Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 have been a critical factor, as some factories were forced to halt production entirely during the onset of the pandemic. So from the point where the demand suddenly spiked, the factories have been trying to catch up ever since. Hopefully, with production increasing to full capacity once again, boat manufacturers will be able to expand their operations to match the demand.
There are plenty of changes happening in the boating industry, but this is not something we should fear. The transition to using electric boats is slow, but foiling boats have paved the way for significant progress in this sector. As part of the broader adoption of more energy-efficient boats, 2022 will see two-stroke outboards continue to vanish. Lastly, the expense of new boats and significant wait times for purchasing could lead consumers to seize the opportunity to rent with the various membership clubs available.
Josh Bremmerer is a born navigator, an experienced leader in the boating industry with over a decade of experience in management and company development and a lifelong passion for boating. As the manager of Glacier Ski Shop, Josh grew the shop into a nationally recognized business and increased profits by 400%. With that background, it's no wonder Josh started his own business in the boating industry: Komodo Covers.