Spark designed to lead PWC resurgence
BRP’s Sea-Doo brand unveils $4,999 PWC pricetag
José Boisjoli recalls a time when PWC took a front-and-center spot on dealership showroom floors.
“Now, you go into the dealerships and they are always at the back,” Boisjoli told a group of reporters at the Sea-Doo Ignition Press Event in Orlando last month. “We want to see them back at the front again.”
Over the past eight years, the BRP president and CEO just might have watched the engineers, designers and marketers from the Valcourt, Quebec-based OEM develop a product that will return personal watercraft to its 1990s heydays.
BRP officials were beaming in Orlando when Sea-Doo unveiled the Spark, the “Rec Lite” segment creator that weighs half as much as the next-heaviest craft on the market. Dealers were equally enticed at the prospect of customer interest in the $4,999 MSRP.
Boisjoli, who conducted a 60-minute Q&A with enthusiast media at the Hard Rock Hotel alongside Universal Studios the day after he spoke with investors on the company’s first earnings call since it became a publically traded company, knew his innovation team had a formidable task when he ordered them to come up with a “2 for 1” approach to building the next great Sea-Doo product back in 2005.
“I wanted two for the price one,” he said. “And I didn’t say anything about the trailer!”
But the Sea-Doo didn’t leave that to chance. The all-new Sea-Doo Move II trailer carries two Sparks, weighs 30 percent less than other Move II models and is 25 percent shorter. Standard cars can carry its 1,500 pound weight with a pair of Sparks aboard.
In fact, young, car-driving buyers are the target market for Spark. Considering the average age of today’s PWC buyer is 48, according to BRP officials, Spark will be geared toward families with a combined income of $89,000, more than half of whom have children. The age of the Spark buyer figures to be in the range of 25-35.
C.A.F.E comes to life
Unit code words rarely make their way outside of OEM facilities. But Boisjoli was eager to share the insight provided by the design and engineering teams behind the Spark. So the Spark initially had the code name “C.A.F.E. — Clean, Affordable, Fun, Easy. We wanted the Spark to be accessible, family fun on the water for those who today cannot afford it — until the arrival of Spark,” Boisjoli said.
But how affordable? Yves Leduc, BRP’s vice-president and general manager, North America division, in a presentation to reporters, revealed numbers like $8,700, which in 2008 was the price that consumers expected to pay for a PWC. Or $6,600, which Sea-Doo research showed consumers were willing to pay for a new unit.
“They’re too expensive, difficult to store, hard to tow and tough to maintain,” were some of the pre-Spark barriers to PWC ownership. The used PWC market is four times the size of the market for new unit sales.
“Twenty-three million consumers have a general interest in PWC, and it’s a 40,000-unit-per-year industry,” Leduc said. “And the price of entry is almost double what it was 20 years ago.”
Add it all together, and Leduc could only wonder at the potential of Spark.
“The market potential is latent and significant,” Leduc said.
And with that, Leduc watched four twentysomethings dock their Sparks on the lakeside beach. But when the four of them combined to carry one of the Sparks with ease to a staging area, those in attendance were equally amazed.
An inventive process
BRP claims the Sea-Doo Spark costs nearly 40 percent less than its closest competitor on the market, along with being the most fuel-efficient watercraft in the industry. It’s available in Vanilla, Orange Crush, Bubble Gum, Pineapple or Licorice.
It’s powered by the reliable Rotax 900 ACE engine, a compact 4-stroke that provided all the power needed to a group of enthusiast media. The engine can also be found powering BRP’s Ski-Doo snowmobile lineup.
The design and engineering team went above and beyond to create the lightest PWC on the market. First, it created Exoskel, which provides an open-air upper deck appearance with a framework that consists of two forward-swept “arms” securing the handlebar and rider connection area.
Even more, the BRP team developed Polytec, a proprietary recipe of polypropylene and long glass fibers designed specifically for watercraft hull and deck applications. Polytec serves as the “skin” of the Sea-Doo Spark Exoskel, providing structural integrity. Polytec lowers the overall weight of the watercraft without compromising strength and durability, as has been proven through rigorous, heavy use testing in both fresh and saltwater environments including real world ocean impact and specialized crane drop testing, according to company officials.
It’s not surprising that BRP’s latest innovation is also 100 percent recyclable.