US sales of fibreglass motorboats 30ft and above registered a volume gain of 13.4% in 2015 with total units of 4,927 for the year.

According to Statistical Survey’s year-end report for IBI Plus, total US sales of fibreglass boats 30ft and above finished the final quarter of 2015 up 9% compared to the same period a year earlier – with accelerating growth of motorboat sales offsetting a 16% decline in sailboats in the same segment. End of year sales of sailboats 30ft and over totalled 935 units, on par with 2014 units of 942. Sales figures for larger fibreglass motorboats include a growing proportion of boats 30ft-40ft rigged with outboard engines, in addition to sterndrive cruisers and inboard yachts.

Looking beneath the topline figures, Brunswick Marine Group remains the market share leader in fibreglass boats 30ft and above, holding approximately 14% of the segment. Other players in this fragmented segment generally hold 6% or less of the market with S2 Yachts, Formula, Grady White and Marine Products among the top five volume sellers in motorboats 30ft and larger. Azimut Yachts, Bénéteau Group brands including Bénéteau, Jeanneau and Prestige motorboats are among imported brands ranking in the US top 20 for unit sales. The Ferretti Group, Sunseeker, Princess Yachts and Fairline also actively sold into the American market in 2015.

In the sailboat segment for boats 30ft and above, Bénéteau and Jeanneau Yachts together with Lagoon Catamarans are the market leaders with a combined share of nearly 50% of US sales in this sector. Other top selling brands include Robertson & Caine, Bavaria Yachts, Hanse and Fountaine Pajot.

Although preliminary estimates of fibreglass boat sales in America have been previously published, there is a time lag on accessing complete data for the large boat segment, which is presented in detail on IBI Plus in the accompanying quarterly/year-end report. In addition to showing the overall performance of the big boat market in the US, the report reveals the quarterly progress and ranking of the top 20 market leaders in both the 30ft-plus motorboat and sailboat sectors based on unit sales.

Further details on import and export performance for boats and engines in 2015 were also released this week in a separate report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The American association’s analysis of trade data shows the value of total imported boats grew for the fifth consecutive year in 2015.  Inboard boat imports increased a strong 93% to US$1.138bn while volume grew 44% to 821 units.

The majority of inboard imports to the American market – 763 units – were larger than 26ft, and 564 of these were cruisers (vs. runabouts) with Western Europe accounting for 74% of imports, followed by Taiwan (13.4%), China (4.6%) and Australia/Pacific (2.9%).

At the same time, US boat exports declined 18% to an 11-year low of US$1.363bn, driven by a strong dollar compared to major trading partner currencies. Canada and Western Europe remained the top export destination for US inboard boats, which totalled 3,975 units in 2015. Approximately 1,600 of these were larger than 26ft.

Based on strong winter boat shows, good spring weather and buoyant business in March, industry experts are reporting that boat unit sales are already up 6% for the year, while dollar value gains are between 12% and 14%.

These trends were verified in recent weeks by positive earnings reports from Brunswick Corporation, Marine Max and West Marine, the three largest US players respectively in boatbuilding, boat retail and the accessories and parts business.

Outside of the industry, analysts are pointing to other leading indicators which typically bode well for the US boat market, including rising car and house sales as well as the strongly rebounding recreational vehicle (RV) industry. RV sales posted their strongest month of shipments in 10 years in January, with the highest value segment of motorhomes up nearly 15%.

Subscribers to IBI Plus can see full details of the 30ft and above boat segment in the US by clicking here.