BRP takes innovation to D.C., excites dealers
Jake Wedge, general manager of Ray’s Sport & Cycle in Grand Rapids, Minn., received an unexpected free dinner during the Club BRP dealer meeting at the luxurious Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C.
And when it’s offered for free in National Harbor, you take it, no questions asked. As the top seller of Can-Am ATVs in Minnesota for the second year in a row, Wedge and other successful dealers like him were feted with the aforementioned dinner courtesy of the Quebec-based OEM.
BRP executives brought their typical positive demeanor with them to D.C. to share with dealers like Wedge, as president and CEO Jose Boisjoli informed the 742 dealers from 53 countries that the company has experienced “good” 2012 sales growth of 10-12 percent. The future apparently looks equally bright, with BRP unveiling a stellar 2013 lineup that included the new Can-Am Maverick 1000R side-by-side (did you know it has 101hp?!), Spyder ST (spot-on fills a need according to dealers) and the 650 XMR (perfect vehicle for the price point, dealers told me).
Boisjoli also had rave reviews for the Sea-Doo lineup, which has market share “approaching 50 percent in North America.”
“We’re number one in the world in PWC, and Sea-Doo will be a major beneficiary of our departure from 18 years in the sport boat market,” he said.
“I can assure you we will provide a spark to the PWC industry like we did in the mid-1990s. And our roadster and side-by-side growth has been significant. It’s our third roadster in five years, and the new sport side-by-side, the Maverick, sets the benchmark in the industry. Count on us to push the limits in the side-by-side business.”
Boisjoli also reported “tremendous growth” worldwide, with Brazil and Russia particularly standing out. And he was eager to show reporters images from his recent trip to China, where BRP recently add a trio of new dealers in addition to a new office in Shanghai.
Fellow exec Yves Leduc noted that BRP’s side-by-side growth has expanded by 25 percent “this season alone.” Spyder, meanwhile, saw 15 percent growth this past season, with 150 units sold in France alone. Additionally, the number of dealers who sold more than 30 Spyders this season increased by 70 percent compared to 2011.
Dealers were oozing with enthusiasm following the lineup’s unveiling. David Tamez of F&T Valley Motor Sports in Pharr, Texas, near McAllen, also sells Suzuki and Triumph.
“I was really impressed with the Maverick and 650 XMR. The XMR down in our region does absolutely great. However, it’s only offered with the bigger engine size, so it brings the price up. Now with them offering the 650, it’s going to generate a lot more opportunities and put a lot more XMRs out there.
“The Maverick is outstanding, especially with the wider suspension on it. The four-seater? It’s a great product. We were absolutely impressed. 101 horsepower is enormous. I can’t wait to ride it.”
Tamez wasn’t done with his review.
“We’re in Mud National territory, along with a lot of farming and ranching. A lot of our customers use the XMR to run fencelines, and on the rainier days, it still has to get done. This offers perfect traction, perfect height, power. It’s awesome.
“Our Spyder riders wanted something between the RS and the RT. They wanted something similar to the RS S, but with a better seating position. I think Can-Am nailed it right on the money with the ST. The new styling with the bigger wheels looks really slick.”
Jeff Gibson, owner of Bennett Powersports in Whitby, Ont., is anxious to see what the Sea-Doo season has in store in 2013. He had other dealers took demo rides aboard the 25th anniversary 2013 lineup along the Potomac River to Fort Washington, the only permanent structure built to defend the river approach to the Capitol, and downriver to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.
“I think Sea-Doo has about 88 percent of the market share in Canada, and this summer was unbelievable for us,” Gibson said prior to a dealer meeting. “It’s the best watercraft selling season that we’ve had to date. The new look of the GTI really helped. Nobody usually ever wants to buy an entry-level unit, but when it looks as good as the GTI does, nobody minds it at all. It looks as hot as an RXP on the water.”
Gibson also lauded the forward-leaning footboards on the Spyder ST, along with its stereo system.
“I can’t believe the off-road stuff they keep coming out with. The Maverick four-seater is going to be cool. And the 101 horsepower is going to greatly received in the market. Nobody can get enough horsepower.”
Wedge, meanwhile, found plenty of possibilities with the Maverick. “We’ll sell a few, but it’s not going to be our mainstay. We have too many trees. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of power and I love the machine. The four-seater might be interesting for the mining industry by us.”
Wedge, who also sells Honda and Yamaha, offered more sales opportunities with the XMR.
“We have the land of 10,000 lakes and 300,000 swamps. Guys are putting the big tires and snorkel kits on, so yeah, why not build it that way for a reasonable price. You’re looking aftermarket at a wheel kit for $800 and a snorkel kit is a couple of hundred. Again, it’s not my bread and butter, but we’ll sell some,” he said. “It shocked me more than anything else here, just because I hadn’t heard anything about it.”
Finally, Wedge was among the throng of dealers who had seen the potential for a sport touring version of the Spyder.
“The Spyder ST really impressed me,” he said. “A lot of women want to ride, but they lean too far forward on the RS. A lot of guys want it, but they say they can’t lay on the tank anymore. It’s going to be great.”
In other words, build it and they will come.
Dave McMahon is Senior Editor of Powersports Business. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763/383-4411.