Bayliner gave the media its first look this weekend at the builder’s significant reshaping of its fleet, which includes dropping the U.S. sale of cruisers from 24 to 35 feet to focus on dayboats under 21 feet.
“We are going to solidify our position in the runabout market,” Bayliner director of marketing and portfolio planning Matt Guilford told about a dozen marine journalists Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on Sarasota Bay, Fla.
“Cruisers have been the hardest-hit segment of the marine market. Twenty-four to 35-foot cruisers in the past six years are down 86 percent. Cruiser sales in the U.S. now account for slightly less than 1 percent of all units sold.”
With such bleak figures staring them in the face, Bayliner leaders have turned their attention to recreational dayboats, or “RDBs,” as they’ve dubbed them, reasonably priced open boats — mainly outboard-powered — built to accommodate as many passengers as possible comfortably.
Click play for a look at the unveiling.
The company unveiled three new-from-the-keel-up models in two sizes, 19 and 21 feet: the 190 DB (Deck Boat), the 210 DB and the 215 DB. The latter is sterndrive-powered; the 190 and 210 are outboard boats. All three come in three different styles: with full windshield, with helm windscreen or a fishing package.
The Brunswick-owned builder also announced a new series of boats called the Bayliner Element — a 16-foot dayboat with 60-hp Mercury 4-stroke offered “at a killer price,” Guilford said. The company is keeping the price under wraps until the Element’s official debut Jan. 3-6 at the New York International Boat Show.
Like the other models, the Element’s deck layout is wide open, with a sunpad that stretches across the stern, midships seating across from a starboard helm and bow seats. The company is arranging a national financing program with no down payment and monthly payments of about $150, Bayliner product portfolio manager Michael Yobe told journalists in the day’s second presentation.
A full year of market research has allowed the company to “really focus on where the actual sales are,” Guilford later told Trade Only on the Hyatt’s docks. “Discontinuing our cruiser operations in North America and really focusing on boats 21 feet and under has allowed us to capitalize on … the emergence of deckboats, the emergence of price-point boats and other trends. With broadening our lineup under 21 feet we have effectively doubled the market we are targeting.”
Bayliner has always been strong in the runabout market, Guilford said. “That’s still the core of what we do, and we will continue to win there,” he said. “We’re going back and augmenting the lineup where we see additional opportunities — and that’s clearly deckboats and it’s new product offerings.”
In his 60-minute presentation, Guilford noted that the cruiser market has slipped 11 percent alone in 2012. Other markets have suffered, as well. In the last six years, small runabout sales are down 73 percent, large runabouts are down 66 percent, deckboats are down 63 percent and pontoon boats have seen a 20 percent dip, he said.
— Chris Landry
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