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  1. #1

    Will Polaris ever get back in the PWC game?

    With the surge of PWC sales these days, do you think Polaris would ever make a comeback? I would love to see this happen!


  2. #2
    Click avatar for tech links/info K447's Avatar
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    Really the question is ‘Does Polaris plan to re-enter the personal watercraft market’?

    Right now their marine focus is on boats, mostly outboard powered but they also sell Mercruiser powered inboard/outboard models
    https://www.polaris.com/en-ca/brands/

    Does Polaris have any marine engine options that would make sense in a PWC?

    Engines were a factor in the prior PWC decline, by 2004 they were all outdated 2-stroke engines or had no path to the higher power levels of the market competition (the Weber turbo motor even today barely touches 200hp).

    To re-enter the PWC market today Polaris would need a PWC competitive engine range from about 150hp up to circa 300hp, in a compact and marine appropriate configuration.

    One of the problems with the Weber engine back in 2004 was that it was Originally designed for land vehicles, with service tech access from below and from the sides. Stuffed down inside a tight PWC hull the Weber engine is difficult to work on. PWC engines have specific requirements for serviceability, reliability and tolerance to wet conditions.

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    martincom's Avatar
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    I was surprised when they left the watercraft business. They had been in it for quite awhile and had a strong following. More significantly, they had just designed release a new hull in 2003, the MSX. It only saw production for two years. That's a lot of R&D, tooling, and other expenses they never recovered on such a short production run.

    I had purchased three new watercraft from them early in 2004. I was a bit shocked when I received the letter from them announcing their exit. My dealer was, as well. He stated they had just been to a dealer show a few months earlier and they were asked things like what they and the customer base would like to see in future models.

    They have not been the only ones to leave that market. Honda left as well. Most Honda owners are very brand loyal.

    No doubt, with COVID, this year saw a big surge. I typically do a bow to stern go through on one or two non-running watercraft over the winter. I had people lined up to buy them at the end of June and I received $500 more for each than I would have the year before---and probably could have pushed that to $700 or $800 more.

    That was a flash in the pan. In MN, the season is, at best, 8 weeks. So they don't get a lot of hours and that short season makes a $13K+ watercraft hard to justify. I believe I paid $6800 for the last Virage i purchased new. That would be a more attractive selling price, but I'm not sure how profitable.

    Emissions would be another hurdle to clear and may be another reason why they left. Tough to meet with a 2-stroke.

  4. #4
    sdlvx's Avatar
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    I don't think they will. AFAIK Polaris PWC were never really profitable, but they didn't lose money either. I thought Polaris bailed on PWC because they got sued. In 2004, Polaris lost a lawsuit for a little under $4 million dollars. Even in 2010, years after Polaris left, they lost another lawsuit for over $20 million because someone was hurt on a Polaris Virage. They hit a boat that turned into the Virage's path and the jury blame Polaris.

    That's a lot of money to lose on something that's such a liability. It's no wonder Polaris wants to stick with boats.

    Hell, even if they wanted to get back into the business, how do you explain an industry you've lost about $25 million in lawsuits should be re-entered? How do you know more won't show up? I know Polaris makes a lot of things you can get hurt on, but it seems like people are excessively sue-happy with personal watercraft. Maybe they were SLAP-type lawsuits encouraged by their competition to get them out of the market? I don't know.

    All I do know is Polaris has paid a lot of money in legal fees and settlements because of PWC, that they supposedly never made money on. I would love to see them come back, they've always been my favorite, and I own a Kaw and Yamaha too. But I don't think it makes sense for them from a business perspective, thinking about the lawsuits.

    And the economy is pretty uncertain. It would probably take a year or two to get back into the business, I don't think they could just bring back the Virage and MSX. Maybe they could squeeze some sort of 200+ hp four stroke into an MSX hull. But even then that's not going to be easy.

    I just accepted Polaris is done with PWC, there's too much going against them. Even Kawasaki, basically the inventor of Jet Skis, is having market share issues. How do you pry marketshare away from this new market? It's a lot of overweight old people who love to sit on 800 pound couches and go really fast in straight lines.

    Kawasaki is the most like Polaris, a more blue collar, less frills and whistles but (I'm going to get hate from other subs for this) more appealing to more hardcore riders. That market just isn't what it used to be as PWC changed from a cool niche sport into something all these outsiders want to do.

    EDIT: although I will say this, the low cost PWC market is absolutely booming. I could see Polaris bringing back something like the Freedom with a 120hp four stroke, selling it for cheap, and making a ton of money. The high end are just halo products, the bulk of sales are these horrible 110hp Yamaha jumbo-turd cruisers. I don't think Polaris would need a 250hp+ ski to be successful, but they would be seen as a cheap, knock off value brand if they did something like that. Which the marketing people probably wouldn't be very happy about.

  5. #5
    This is how I run a jetski shop in the desert nmpeter's Avatar
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    after the horrible lawsuit involving the jet pump wash ( I'll spare the gory details) I doubt that anybody in Polaris management would even consider suggesting it.

    They are killing it in the ATV business even with the various liability potentials that business exposes them too.

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    savageman69's Avatar
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    actually the guy from watercraft journal said they have plans to re enter if the election goes the right way....this is on video

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    David Drkvampire2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by savageman69 View Post
    actually the guy from watercraft journal said they have plans to re enter if the election goes the right way....this is on video
    Exactly, I have the video on my phone that mentions that Polaris is I quote "Looking at the election , and if the election goes the way they hope" they feel that demand will only increase and being an American company will be a good thing, It is rumored they have a Prototype at one of their Test Lakes, and word is that they acquired some PWC Tech with one of the boat company they purchased and would be going after the "Low Hanging Fruit" the VX and the GTI in the first years if they WHERE to get back into the game.

    But im not holding my breath. all of this is from the Watercraft Journal Live video a week or so ago.

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    David Drkvampire2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdlvx View Post
    And the economy is pretty uncertain. It would probably take a year or two to get back into the business, I don't think they could just bring back the Virage and MSX. Maybe they could squeeze some sort of 200+ hp four stroke into an MSX hull. But even then that's not going to be easy.

    Its actually not as hard as you may think I know of atleast 1 Seadoo 4tech in an MSX Hull and it does over 80.

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    This is how I run a jetski shop in the desert nmpeter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by savageman69 View Post
    actually the guy from watercraft journal said they have plans to re enter if the election goes the right way....this is on video
    I'd be pleasantly surprised, shocked actually. Considering there have been a few high profile PWC accidents this past season, but of course I'll be happy to see Polaris back in the game, and I'd lobby for them to reopen their very popular PWC dealership in my county which is home to New Mexico's biggest lake

  12. #10
    Moderator HiPeRcO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by savageman69 View Post
    actually the guy from watercraft journal said they have plans to re enter if the election goes the right way....this is on video
    Sure, the guys in the board room are saying "we never made a profit in the 10+ years we did this, but hey, lets try it again"


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