Personal Watercraft Originations Off to ‘Strong Start,’ Lenders Say

Consumers are heading to the dealership looking to hit the waves, leading to loan volume growth for personal watercraft (PWC), lenders told Powersports Finance.

Yamaha Motor Finance Corp USA has seen finance volume for its WaveRunner brand increase 30% year over year, Senior Group Manager of Retail Finance Ashley Cooper told PSF.

Yamaha saw “positive results” at boat shows in the first quarter, Cooper said. The captive attributes the finance-growth to increased interest from consumers in owning a new WaveRunner, in addition to internal enhancements to the finance program.

Additionally, while 5% to 7% of Yamaha’s financing volume is for subprime consumers, the captive has seen a year-over-year uptick in that credit tier.

“We have seen more activity in our subprime portfolio within the PWC segment, but we wouldn’t attribute the increase solely to changes in the average credit demographics,” Cooper said. “Year over year, we have made adjustments within our program to help capture more of these incremental sales for our dealers.”

For More Read: Lenders Upbeat on RV Sales Ahead of Buying Season

While Cooper would not name the specific enhancements, he said they revolved around making financing “a little bit more of a convenient process for the subprime buyer.”

Meanwhile, Roadrunner Financial has seen a “continual increase” in PWC sales since February, said Logan Shedd, vice president of powersports at New York City-based lender, without specifying the amount.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in prime PWC loans and expect that momentum to stay,” Logan said. “With full-spectrum financing and new platform enhancements like soft-pulls, our current growth in the PWC space is just the beginning.”

Roadrunner operates in 48 states and finances all types of powersports vehicles. It partners with OEMs such as BRP to provide retail financing for the manufacturers’ dealer networks.

From a dealer perspective, Freedom Powersports has seen a slower start to the PWC season than it was expecting, said Regional Operations Manager Chase Vance. In January and February, jet-ski sales grew 49% combined for all its locations year over year. However, volume in March and April fell short of its normal sales uptick.

Freedom Powersports blamed cold weather for the slow start to the spring buying season. However, Vance expects sales to “really take off” once temperatures heat up.

About 50% of PWCs are financed at the dealer group, which works with lenders such as Synchrony Financial and Citi Retail Services.

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As Associate Editor of Powersports Finance, Matt Wood reports on the latest developments and trends of the powersports finance world, from innovation to new partnerships. He's also a movie/TV show buff and is willing to argue about Lost anytime. Former bylines include Scout Media and CinemaBlend.

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