Sales of new outboard powered boats reach an 11-year high

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) – the core trade body representing recreational boating in America – continues the release of its 2018 US Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract which shows among other positive news an 11-year high in outboard-powered new boat sales reaching 177,600 units.

Outboard boats, including fishing, centre console and pontoon boats with both fibreglass and aluminium hulls, accounted for 86% of all traditional boat unit sales in 2018.

Overall, retail unit sales of all traditional powerboat segments in the US – outboard, inboard, sterndrive and jet boats – were up 3% in 2018 to 206,900 units, and corresponding dollars were up 10% to about $10.5bn.

New inboard-boat sales improved 9% to 12,400 units, due largely to the consistent growth of the inboard towboat segment, which gained 10% in sales. Sales of new inboard boats have now recovered to their highest level in 10 years.

Sales of personal watercraft sales – often considered a gateway to ne boat ownership – rose 8% to 69,000 units in 2018.

US Sales of Traditional Powerboats (2018)
Segment                  Units2017-18 % changeMarket share (units)
Outboard boats               177,600 3% 86%
Inboard boats 12,400 9% 6%
- Cruisers 1,900 0% 1%
- Ski/Tow boats 10,500 10% 5%
Jet drive boats 5,900 3.5% 3%
Sterndrive boats 11,000 -5% 5%
Total 206,900 3% 100%

Source: NMMA

Earlier this month, the NMMA also released figures on total marine expenditures in the US for 2018, estimating spending on core industry segments including boats, engines, trailers, accessories and related services were at an all-time high in 2018 of $42bn, a 7% increase over 2017.

“Sales of new boats and boating expenditures have been on a consistent upward climb for eight years, with some segments reaching pre-recession sales volumes,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich. The association said the US industry is anticipating a still healthy boating market in 2019, but at a slower pace of growth – up to 2% – in new powerboat unit sales.

The NMMA continues to release each section of the Abstract as statistics become available, with the Pre-Owned Boat Market; Cruiser, Watersport, Fishing Boat and Trailer Sales Trends; Boat and Engine Exports and Imports; Total Industry Sales by Category and State coming in June, Total Boat Registrations in July, and the full 2018 Abstract available in August. For additional information, go to