Yes, this has been huge news for this season. When the Sea-Doo division at BRP launched the Spark Personal Watercraft (PWC) it turned the PWC biz upside down overnight. The recipe was simple. Build a real full-size PWC with an MSRP from the 1990’s. Simple to say but a huge challenge to execute.
After less than five years in the marketplace, the Sea Doo Spark is the single largest selling product by volume BRP builds. More importantly a huge number of new-to-the-sport buyers became PWC enthusiasts. I mean new buyers – people who otherwise would not have bought a “regular” PWC. The idea is sound and frankly the entire sno-mo-industry has been waiting for the snowmobile equivalent to the Spark PWC.
My friends, it is here. The new NEO and NEO+ are full featured, full sized snowmobiles with a US and Canadian MSRP that goes back two decades. The sled is not just barely credible but thoroughly credible in the marketplace.
There’s a full-on liquid cooled 600cc Rotax twin under-hood with EFI, electric start, Ski-Doo clutches and generally speaking, enough go to keep up with the crowd on an all-day ride. Honestly, the NEO feels like a “real” snowmobile from every perspective. The arrival of this product is significant.
For far too long our sport has incrementally and consistently become more expensive to participate in. The MSRP “creep” we’ve witnessed has been (thankfully) tolerated and even accepted as the OEMs focused on the higher end of the market.
There’s little doubt hardcore 850 buyers are driving the success of the business from a profitability standpoint. Simply put – building 850s makes big jing.
Because of the entrenched demographic profile of big iron buyers no one needs to worry the NEO will cut into existing sales. What the NEO will do is attract brand new buyers and current buyers looking for a second, third or fourth ride.
The NEO will tangibly contribute to increased growth and acceptance of snowmobiling by significantly lowering the cost to participate. The NEO may also cause the over-inflated value of used snowmobiles to come back to a reasonable level. The past two COVID years have seen used iron prices skyrocket.
The only downside to this otherwise happy story is this: There are literally no unsold NEOs at Ski-Doo dealers across the North American snowbelt. They sold to the bare walls on Spring Break.
To make this story a truly happy one, next year Ski-Doo is going to have to produce more NEOs – significantly beyond what Spring Break consumers are booking. Why? Because newbie buyers are overwhelmingly in-season buyers.