Today “new” means more than “not old.”
There’s real innovation out there and there are few venues where it’s so obvious as the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show. But be careful—that gleaming hull color or fancy booth display may be concealing last year’s model.
“Customers should look for something that is really new, not something with zero hours on the engine,” says Laurent Fabre, vice president of powerboats in America for Beneteau. “‘New’ means there is something innovative with the product—it is equipped with the latest generation in terms of propulsion systems or electronics, but maybe also in terms of hull design or size of the interior. And that’s really what we focus on.”
Fabre knows innovation, since Beneteau has been bringing new models, and lines of models out at a breakneck pace. The challenge is not just to bring out new things, though. “We ask if they bring any benefit to the customer,” Fabre says. “I think it’s really the responsibility of the manufacturer to make sure innovations add value.”
For example, Beneteau has capitalized on its relationship with Volvo Penta to broaden the effectiveness of pods. “We’ve been working now for six years with Volvo on developing a new set of IPS with more torque, bigger propellers and engines that would turn at lower revs,” Fabre says. “Last year we had a breakthrough, which allowed us to design a new boat around that new system. We are launching the Swift Trawler 50 with a new IPS system specifically built for semi-planing hulls, so it’s very efficient from 9 to 20 knots.”