Sea-Doo Spark Revolution
SeaDoo Spark Pricing & Features
Just to cover some basics, the Spark is available in a 2UP or 3UP version in five different color choices. They all utilize the 900 ACE 4-stroke borrowed from the Ski-Doo snowmobile product line. The 2UP is rated at 60HP in its base configuration with an upgrade to 90HP with the HO option.
The 3UP is only available with the 90HP HO power plant. HO models have iBR as an option, which includes reverse and brake. Trim is not included with the iBR option on any SPARK model in 2014.
SeaDoo Spark Availability and Impact on BRP & the PWC IndustryGrab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair; this is going to be a long one. First and foremost, SeaDoo has changed the landscape and caused a significant disruption in the PWC industry with the SPARK launch and an entry price point of $4999. The benefits of this change have resulted in much more affordable PWC to the consumer; well to some consumers anyway!
What BRP has Communicated Publically:1 BRP 2014 Spark sales forecast is $30-$35 million ($60 million in 2015).
2 BRP expects Spark to cannibalize 10% of their total SeaDoo volume.
3 BRP expects the GTI and GTS lines to be cannibalized at a much higher rate than 10%.
4 BRP makes less profit on the Spark than the GTI or GTS.
5 BRP plans to manage Spark availability/cannibalization by limiting their dealer’s Spark orders to 10% of the total units
purchased in 2014. As an example, if a dealer orders 100 total SeaDoos, the dealer will only be allowed 10 Sparks.
6 BRP will build their own SeaDoo hull and decks as opposed to purchasing them.
7 BRP opened a new plant in Queretaro, Mexico... Home of the Sparks and all SeaDoos in the near future.
8 The GTX 215 price increased $1200 over 2013 pricing with no apparent change other than badging.
9 The GTS 130 price decreased $200 in 2014.
Here is Our Take on the Above Information2014 Spark sales will be roughly 5,000 units based on an average $6,000 sell price and guidance from BRP on dealer order restrictions in 2014. Remember, this is 5,000 units for the entire world, not just North America. Based on BRP financials, approximately 45% of their sales are US. Assuming this average is the same for the Spark sales, this leaves only 2,250 Sparks to be sold in the US. In 2015 we would expect the number to double, but still believe that demand will outstrip supply in 2014 and 2015. Do not expect any deals relative to MSRP and expect many dealers to sell them at a premium above MSRP based on limited supply and high demand. Because of this, do not expect a strong price reaction from Yamaha or Kawasaki for some time.
So why is BRP limiting the number of Sparks? The answer is, in our opinion: they need to carefully manage the transition or risk financial disaster. The math is pretty simple. BRP’s gross profit is about 25% for their entire business. A reasonable assumption is they make more money on their higher end products like the RXP and GTX and less money on their base models (GTI/GTS). We know the Sparks have lower profitability than the GTI/GTS models. If we assume 20% profitability on the GTI/GTS and a slightly lower profitability of 18% on the Sparks, every Spark that is sold in lieu of a GTS will cost BRP approximately $750 in profit. In a worst case scenario, if they sell a Spark in place of a GTX or RXP the profit loss numbers get very large very quickly. If the entire 2014 Spark volume came from the GTI/GTS volume, it would cost BRP $4mil in profit.
So how is BRP offsetting this profit hit? There are three key moves being made by BRP to offset this. First, the 2014 reduction in price of the GTS 130 is most likely a defensive move to reduce erosion of GTS volume and protect some of that business from converting to Spark sales. Second, the significant price increase in the GTX 215 with the limited badge was most likely a profit shot in the arm to help off-set the lower margins of the Spark line. The GTX is positioned in the luxury segment and its target market demographic is less price sensitive, which allows BRP to be very aggressive with a price increase and not lose much volume. While there is not sufficient sales volume information to provide an estimate of the increased profitability of these two defensive moves, we know both will improve the bottom line.
Third, BRP has stated without the Mexican plant they would never have been able to hit the Spark price targets. Additionally, BRP has announced all SeaDoos will ultimately be made in their Mexican facility. BRP will transition all SeaDoo production to Mexico by the end of 2016. The huge reduction in labor costs over their Canadian facility will position BRP to expand the volume of Sparks in 2016. Until they have realized the cost savings from the Mexican transition in 2016, they will continue to limit Spark production.
Should I Buy a Spark Now or Wait?BRP has masterfully driven buzz in the industry with the introduction of the SPARK line. It’s almost impossible to land on any personal watercraft website and not hear about SPARK pricing, value, colors and accessories. The hype machine is working in their favor on this one and rightfully so. However, what they have done behind the scenes is just as impressive as is the risks they have taken financially to change the industry. Our counsel is if you are in the market for a Spark you should buy it now and not wait. You might find out when you are ready to buy, most have been sold and for those that are still available price might be an issue. One area of concern that we have not seen addressed by BRP is the potential backlash and negative publicity the lack of availability could cause. Time will tell how this all plays out.
BRP is starting production of a completely new product (Spark) that utilizes a new hull technology (plastics), in a new Mexican manufacturing facility. Additionally, BRP has historically purchased their SeaDoo hull and decks, now they are manufacturing their own hull and decks in Mexico. There are a lot of firsts all at one time going on here. It’s a challenge to start a seasoned existing product in a new plant; it’s a much more difficult challenge to start a new product in a new plant in a foreign country. Now add to that, fabricating hull and decks for the first time and you can quickly get the picture. And don’t forget, BRP will be speaking French-Canadian to the Spanish speaking Queretaro plant. As with any new vehicle platform launch, there are design, manufacturing and quality issues. While we have already placed our order for two Sparks in September, the situation does cause some concern over buying a 2014 Spark model year with so many firsts
Spark HO Versus 1997 SPX ReviewBRP has made many references that the Spark is taking them back to the days of the mid 90’s regarding PWC affordability and fun factor for the consumer. We are going to put this to the test as soon as the weather warms up and we can get out on the water. We will be performing head to head on water comparison tests between the Spark 2Up HO and a restored 1997 SPX we have in our stable of watercraft.
The ResultsWell, we received two Spark HOs in late spring of 2014 and the summary of the comparison to the 1997 SPX is we could not get our riders to stay on the SPX for very long at all. Every one of the five test riders preferred the Spark to SPX. The Spark won hands down for ride, responsiveness, handling, acceleration, rough water tracking, hook-up, fuel efficiency, starting and top end speed. The only area where there were some concerns was in the loss of the fiberglass hull and seat comfort. While both our Sparks were treated with care, we are more concerned with the robustness and resilience of the plastic hull. In the end, we can live with the plastic due to the other many improvements.
After a full riding season and a few minor performance modifications, we are very pleased with the both the 2up and 3up Sparks. We would like to see some improvement in seat comfort. The Spark seating is narrow and is not near as comfortable as traditional SeaDoo seats. One very nice benefit of the Sparks is the light weight. It’s a joy to manhandle on a trailer compared to the other models.
What's new in 2015? To be brief, not much. The only difference between 2014 and 2015 models is that trim is now available as an option in 2015. The colors and power options remain identical to 2014. We did notice a $100 price increase across the board, except for the basic 2up which retained its $4999 MSRP.
We have found BRP to be much quieter over the last 12 months regarding the Spark and its impact on their business. They have not provided nearly as much color or in-depth insights as they previously had shared in 2014. Here’s what they have shared. Spark production will continue to be strategically allocated to dealers in 2015. No clear percentages were communicated, but expect Sparks to have some limited availability in 2015. Spark significantly grew above BRP’s expectations in 2014 driven in-part by large growth in the North American PWC market. It has been reported the North American PWC market was up high double digits (between 15% and 20%).
Kawasaki and Yamaha were less impacted by the Spark introduction and pricing due to the overall increase in the PWC market. Had the market remained flat or only slightly up from the prior year and SeaDoo eroded their volume, we may have seen a much different competitive response to the Spark introduction. The price reduction of $400 in the GTI 130 comes on top of a $200 price reduction in the prior year without any significant feature changes. Overall, this is approximately a 10% reduction and greatly reduces the margin difference between the Spark and GTI. SeaDoo may be trying to reduce erosion of the GTI or position against competitive price points driven downward by the introduction of the Spark. In either case the GTI 130 is becoming more attractive as a entry traditional PWC.
2016 did not bring a monstrous new power plant for the Spark series this year like some of it’s big brothers, but that’s not really what the spark is about.
Spark models with iBR (intelligent Brake and Reverse system) will get the new second generation iBR that gives you 20% faster braking while all Spark models get new integrated palm rests in the handle grips which should really help with making long rides more comfortable. 2016 Spark iBR models will also come with the Convenience Package Plus which includes the accessory step for easier boarding, the front storage bin that also improves the flow of the Spark body lines and the new RF DESS radio frequency key security system. The convenience package is no longer available on Spark models without iBR as it has been in the past. Sea-Doo is also offering 3 new “delicious” colors including blueberry, key lime and chili pepper along with last year’s pineapple and vanilla colors.
Price wise the 2016 base 900 ACE 2up model went up $200 while the 3up’s MSRP stayed the same as 2015. The new year’s 900 HO base 2up and 3up stayed the same while the iBR with the convenience packages only went up $100.
With little if any price increases over 2015 and a few new features the Spark series is still by far the most economical way to get you and your family out on the water without getting a second mortgage.
2017 brings us a pretty exciting new member of the Spark family, the 2-Seater Spark Trixx.
The Trixx is a customizable freestyle machine that has all the bells and whistles already included. It’s powered by the proven 900 ACE HO motor and includes new features like stainless handlebars with an adjustable riser, extended range variable trim system, a factory-installed bilge pump, 60° rear step wedges & the iBR System (Intelligent Brake & Reverse). The extended range trim system has double the normal range as other models to assist you with tail stands, power slides, 180° hops, and any other tricks you can come up with. You can choose between a sports mode for play or a touring mode for getting where you need to be; the Trixx has a top speed of around 50 MPH.
The other Spark models didn’t really see many changes. The sparks are so nimble some had a problem with a momentary low oil pressure limp mode that was hard to clear, this has been changed for 2017. The new logic will cause the 4200 RPM max limp mode to kick in when a low oil pressure is detected; this can now be easily reset and cleared by removing the tether or will clear itself after the oil pressure signal is back, and the throttle is held open for a half of a second.
The original Spark models only went up 100.00, and the Trixx has an MSRP of 7299.00.
2018 SparkOther than new colors, 2018 didn't bring any remarkable changes for the 2-seater version of the Spark. If it's not broken, don't fix it.
The Spark Trixx was one of the best selling watercraft in 2017, 2018 brings an all-new 3-seater version! It's got an extended rear boarding platform and of course, a 3-up seat. It promises to deliver the same level of fun as the 2-up version while adding tow sports capability & room for two friends.
Prices only went up $100.00 across the board compared to 2017; the all-new Trixx 3-Up has an MSRP of $7999.00, $600.00 more than the 2-Up version.
2019 Spark2019 brings a feature that’s usually found on high-dollar luxury watercraft, a Bluetooth-compatible audio system option for its 3-seater models. The new 50-watt audio system has a quick release design so you can listen to your favorite music while riding or chilling on the beach. This self-contained unit is buoyant, waterproof and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will last up to 24 hours of listening. It’s also available as an add-on accessory for all 2014 and newer Spark models.
Mechanically the Spark line only saw a few minor changes including improved Bosch fuel injectors and a new dual seal jet pump design.
Prices stayed the same compared to 2018; the new audio system option will cost you an additional $550.00.