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Small motorboats driving boat sales in Finland

The popularity of boating continues to grow in Finland. Early in the year, the number of new watercraft registrations in Finland increased by eight per cent over the previous year. Small motorboats provided most of the impetus, as their registrations were up by 14 per cent, a substantial increase. Their popularity goes to explain why small outboard-powered boats make up a majority of the altogether 260 boats exhibited at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show opening this Thursday. Finnish boat exports increased by almost 10 per cent over the corresponding period a year ago.

The steadily warm spring weather accelerated boat sales in Finland, and the active sales period started earlier than last year. These are key factors behind the growth, according to Jarkko Pajusalo, Managing Director of the Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat. In January-July, a total of 3,459 watercraft of different types were registered, which was 251 more than in the same period one year earlier.

"Boating has gained an increasingly stable position as a pastime among Finns, and particularly the sales of small motorboats less than 5.5 metres long have increased. Brands manufacturing small boats, such as Suvi and Terhi, are enjoying strong growth," Pajusalo says.

The Mikkeli-based Suvi was Finland's fourth most popular motorboat brand early in the year, with registrations up by 21 per cent, while Terhi, the brand from Rymättylä, held the sixth position and achieved a 25 per cent increase in the number of registrations. Among the most popular boat brands, the quickest rise was exhibited by Falcon, the new aluminium-hulled boat from the Kuopio-based Bella, with 107 new boats registered.

The top positions in the registration statistics were again held by Buster and Yamarin, with 407 and 344 registrations, respectively. Overall, new motorboat registrations were up by 7 per cent. In Finland, official registration is mandatory for boats that are at least 5.5 metres long or equipped with a 15-hp engine or bigger.

Finns love their small console boats, the versatile all-rounders

Of all the motorboats registered during the early part of the year, 87 per cent (2,051 boats) were less than 7 metres long. The list of the most popular motorboats is strongly dominated by domestic manufacturers; the most popular import boat is the Russian-built Volzhanka, with 24 boats registered in January-July.

"The Finnish boating industry knows the Nordic market well, and the most important boat type on this market is the all-round console boat. This can also be seen at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show, where no other boat type comes forth at the piers as numerously as outboard-powered motorboats 5 to 6 metres long. They are equally well suited for boating trips, recreational fishing, water sports and commuting," Pajusalo says.

The registrations of boats over 9 metres in length numbered over one hundred during the review period. In cruisers and commuters, the most popular brands were Grandezza, Targa, Nimbus, Sargo and Nord Star, with a combined total of more than 60 registrations.

The sales of new sailboats also picked up substantial momentum, as altogether 21 sailboats over 5.5 metres long were registered during the period, almost twice as many as the year before. The previously wild growth rate of personal watercraft sales slowed down, but the category still posted a growth figure of eight per cent (982 PWCs sold, +74 units compared with one year ago). In the previous year's corresponding period, the number of new PWCs sold had increased by almost 300 units.

Small outboard engines sold well

The statistics on the wholesale deliveries of outboard engines indicate that especially small outboards sold well. Of all outboard engines delivered to Finland in January-June this year, outboards with power ratings of up to 60 hp accounted for 79 per cent. Large outboards with over 200 hp make up about three per cent of the total market.

Managing Director Pajusalo interprets the numbers as follows: "Finland is an opportune market for small boat engines, and boating as a pastime is enjoyed by wide circles of Finnish people, thanks to the diversity of the country's waterways, the 168,000 lakes and the extensive archipelago."

Although electric boat motors have seen their rapid popularity growth level off, they continue to be in high demand. Altogether 5,390 electric motors were delivered in January-June, roughly as many as in the same period a year before.
According to the statistics on wholesale deliveries, a total of 7,385 internal-combustion outboards were delivered to Finland between January and June, which was 30 engines more than over the corresponding time span one year ago. Overall, 17,723 outboard engines (+11%) were delivered through Finnish importers, with 10,338 of these engines re-exported elsewhere.

Boat exports increased by almost 10 per cent

At this point of the year, customs statistics on Finnish boat exports are available from the period January-May. According to the statistics, the total value of boat exports over the first five months of the year increased by 9.4 per cent over the corresponding period a year ago. The most significant export countries were Sweden, Norway, Germany and Russia.

The total value of exports was EUR 113.4 million, almost EUR 10 million more compared with the same time frame in the previous year. Altogether 6,572 boats were exported, almost 500 more than in January-May a year ago.

Sweden and Norway represent very significant markets for the export industry; they were the most important export destinations both in terms of number of boats and export value. The total value of exports to Sweden and Norway amounted to EUR 37 million and EUR 34 million, with over 3,000 and 2,110 boats exported, respectively. The value of exports to Sweden fell by almost 8 per cent, whereas that of the Norwegian exports rose by 3 per cent.

Germany overtook Russia as the third-biggest export destination, with 161 boats exported for an aggregate value of EUR 8.7 million. The value of German exports increased by more than EUR 5 million over the previous year's corresponding period. The value of boat exports to Russia increased by almost 20 per cent, and the growth was even faster in terms of number of boats (685 boats exported, total value EUR 7 million).

Large sailboats accounted for more than EUR 10 million of the total value of exports. The most expensive boats exported were two yachts, one of which was delivered to Germany and the other to Switzerland at a price of EUR 4.2 million and EUR 3.4 million, respectively.

Boat exports, Jan-May 2019
  Country EUR million No. of boats
1 Sweden 36.94 3,022
2 Norway 34.07 2,110
3 Germany 8.66 161
4 Russia 6.98 685
4 Switzerland 6.34 43
6 UK 3.54 76
7 Denmark 2.88 36
8 France 2.27 42
9 Greenland 1.97 13
10 Netherlands 1.90 33

Boat imports

The total value of boat imports was EUR 41.9 million, up by EUR 1.4 million (3.5 per cent) on the previous year. Of this total value, two-thirds was accounted for by personal watercraft imported from Mexico, declared to customs in Finland and re-exported to other EU countries.

In actual boat imports, the most significant import countries were Poland and France. The value of boat imports from Poland increased by almost 60 per cent (EUR 3.6 million, 154 boats), while the value of boat imports from France increased sevenfold from the corresponding period a year earlier (EUR 2.8 million, 62 boats). The imports from Poland consisted of small and large outboard-powered boats and larger inboard-powered or sterndrive-powered boats, while those from France were mostly larger inboard-powered or sterndrive-powered boats.

Russia also emerged as a significant import country, with the total value of imports increasing almost hundredfold to EUR 1.5 million. The Russian imports were mainly aluminium-built small boats.

Boat imports, Jan-May 2019
  Country EUR million   No. of boats
1 Mexico 28.4   3,724
2 Poland 3.6   154
3 France 2.8   113
4 Russia 1.5   62
5 USA 1.3   291

For further information please contact:
Managing Director Jarkko Pajusalo
Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat
tel. +358 40 673 4032