MRAA calls for model-year meeting in Miami

OAK Park, Ill. – The Board of Directors of the Marine Retailers Association of America has called for a special meeting between outboard builders and dealers at the Miami Boat Show to discuss the elimination of outboard model years, MRAA reported in a “Special Member Report” message it sent out yesterday.

MRAA said its call for industry collaboration stems from the consensus of hundreds of dealers at its convention in Las Vegas last November that model year elimination has begun to cause confusion.

“When first initiated, the idea of eliminating the model year on outboard motors seemed simple enough,” MRAA wrote in its message. “But as Yamaha led the move by doing so with their 2006 models, and Mercury and Honda followed with their 2007 models, confusion began to surface, particularly for dealers and consumers.

“The benefits to the outboard makers and, ostensibly, for boat builders seemed obvious. However, the benefits, as well as any downside, for the retailer, not to mention the consumer, were far more difficult to articulate.”

MRAA President Phil Keeter said it has become obvious that the issue isn’t yet clear within the industry.

“Our call for a quick industry meeting does not mean MRAA opposes the elimination of the outboard model year,” Keeter said. “What’s needed is a dialogue to be certain this can work favorably for everyone. There are definitely some unanswered questions.”

MRAA said BRP, along with Suzuki, continue to study the effects of the Yamaha/Mercury/Honda decision and quoted a Boating Industry magazine story “Industry debates model year elimination” in which Mercury’s Jack Malone explained the change this way: “EPA, which dictates the time frame during which an engine of a particular model year can be produced, allows for a two-year period from Jan. 2 of the prior year to Dec. 31 of the model year. In other words, an engine with a 2006 model year could have been built any time from January 2005 to December 2006.”

MRAA questioned an assertion that boat buyers don’t ask what year an outboard is because they are looking to buy a package.

“That may be true but it can be pointed out that the customers not ask because he logically assumes a 2007 boat, for example, will have a 2007 engine hanging on it,” MRAA writes. “Will the consumer ever know he may have an engine that’s a year older than he thinks? It may depend on which state he lives in or what a dealer might decide when that consumer eventually goes to trade in. Moreover, if that consumer lives in Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, New Mexico or S. Carolina, he’s surely going to know because in those states outboards are titled and/or registered separately from the boat, and the model year appears on those documents.”

MRAA said it has asked National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich to assist in setting up a meeting between the engine manufacturers and its representatives at the Miami show.

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