Power Boating Going the way of the Dinosaurs?
In most people's minds there is little doubt that we are all being taken for a ride when it comes to retail fuel prices at the pump. In the 7 years since importing my boat, I have watched the petrol prices grow from $1.05 - $1.10 up to $1.70 for premium unleaded petrol. In other words, the cost to run mt boat has increased nearly 60% in that time.
If you add to the increased costs associated with marine insurance for your boat (also going up) and perhaps storage fees at your marina, things are not so rosy. Increasing operational and maintenance costs for boats mean that boat owners start to use their vessels less and less as those costs rise. Naturally, there are price brackets which dictate what market segments can afford to own and run their boats. As costs rise, a number of brackets are eliminated, as boating is no longer viable for them.
The downturn in economies worldwide - particularly western nations where boating is a lifestyle expression, is killing boaters. Considered a luxury item, they are being sold off in cut-throat fashion. The massive price reductions across used boat markets thus affects the new boat sales market. Bargains are to be had everywhere, which makes it less appealing to pay more on the showroom floor.
Back to fuel costs. We know we are being taken for a ride. Prices at the bowser go up Friday morning (or even Thursday night). They come down on Tuesdays - if you're lucky. They go up on school holidays and back down again a few days after the kids return to class. Up when there's a public holiday and back down a day or two after we return to work. We're sold a lie by Governments reliant on oil company's political donations and various commissions who have no teeth to do anything.
Power boating is becomming even more expensive at a time when people are burdened with enormous real estate debts, declining income and job prosepcts and an ever-uncertain future. That is not good news for the boating industry per se and the power boat industry specifically. The fact is that marine engine manufacturers cannot improve technology and fuel consumption performance at a rate exceeding the rate of fuel price increases.
If you're going to get into selling sailing boats, you need no further incentive. Stink boaters are going to lose the battle! They will be consigned to forever being land-lubbers or be forced to walk the plank and jump into a rag boat!!! Take a look at the boat sales websites. Not just in Australia, but the UK and United States too.
The biggest losers are the V8 driven boats. All of a sudden, no one wants them! Not even for free. The Aussie tradie who has done so well for himself over the past decade in a relentless construction boom, knows what how much it costs to run his Holden or Ford ute around from job to job each week. His 80 litre fuel tank is now well north of $100 to fuel. So in an instant he can calculate the cost of filling a 300, 400, 500, 1000 litre fuel tank on a boat. Scary. And scared off buying a new, or even used boat. Scared to even fuel the one he has now!
Boat owners with diesel engines will be less likely to want to sell. None of them will want a petrol boat, that much is certain. But being able to cruise more economically dollar-for-dollar will not entice them to sell in a down market with few sales prospects. Older and ageing vessels are a tricky proposition, with insurance companies more likely to want a marine survey conducted before they agree to insure a vessel. Who needs these cost burdens when they are struggling to maintain their budget as it is?
Where is the light at the end of the tunnel for the boating industry? Is there a remedy to fix the growing financial mess that might envelope and swallow it? How soon will the Chinese perfect the electric engine...and the electric boat? Granted, the first electric boats will be slow and have limited cruise range and time. But you can bet your V8 engines it will be the Chinese who come to the fore.
Anyone want a cruiser with twin V6's? Mine is for sale!!!