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Understanding the Tech Wave Within the Powersports Industry

Understanding the Tech Wave Within the Powersports Industry

Tristin Burdick | June 15, 2023

The powersports industry is constantly being molded by technology, bringing numerous advantages to consumers and elevating the overall riding experience in terms of comfort and safety. To gain a deeper understanding of how technology is influencing this industry and to gauge consumer opinions on emerging technological trends, we undertook an extensive survey of our consumer panel. Through this survey, we aimed to gather valuable insights pertaining to various vehicle categories, consumer satisfaction levels, and anticipated future advancements in technology.

Powersports Vehicles and Their Popular Technological Features

When it comes to motorcycles, the survey shows riders are firmly putting safety first. A hefty 72% of consumers have anti-lock braking systems equipped on their motorcycles. Riders also value information at their fingertips, with digital display/dash systems and cruise control installed by 62% and 60% of riders respectively. In a nod to comfort, heated grips came in fourth, installed by 56% of consumers, followed by traction control systems, favored by 48%.

Moving onto scooters, consumers prioritize performance and convenience. Electronic fuel injection, leading the list at 36%, ensures smoother operation and improved fuel efficiency. Close behind is the anti-lock braking system, seen in 29% of scooters, mirroring the safety trend from motorcycles. Other popular features include the digital instrument cluster and LED lights (both at 23%) and a mobile charging socket, a modern convenience installed by 19% of scooter owners.

For those hitting the snow, hand and thumb warmers are essential for nearly all riders, with an overwhelming 95% of consumers enjoying this feature. Electric start (82%), electronic reverse system (78%), and digital display/dash (76%) followed suit. Once again, LED lights make the list, used by 60% of snowmobile owners.

ATV/UTV/SBS riders value capability and functionality. The top feature for this segment is the four-wheel-drive system, equipped on 87% of vehicles. Electronic fuel injection and winches, both at 66%, also highlight the desire for performance and utility. A digital instrument display (60%) and differential lock (50%) round off the list.

Finally, on the water, boaters are geared towards exploration and communication. A fish finder is the leading tech feature on boats, installed by 57% of boaters. This is followed by a GPS navigation system (32%), LED lighting (30%), VHF radio (25%), and sonar (23%).

As we can see, the top tech features across various powersports vehicles are driven by safety, comfort, performance, and convenience, differing as per the unique needs of each vehicle type. Now, let's shift gears and discuss how consumers feel about these technologies.

Consumer Satisfaction and Comfort Levels with Technology

Navigating through the digital world of powersports, consumers appear quite at ease. When asked about their comfort with the tech on their vehicles, a majority reported being extremely comfortable across all segments. It's clear that, while technology evolves, consumers are keeping pace.

Furthermore, it is encouraging to note that consumers exhibit significant satisfaction with the technology incorporated into their powersport vehicles. Across all category segments, the majority of riders expressed a satisfaction rating surpassing 90%. Notably, boaters displayed the lowest satisfaction level among the segments, standing at 73%. Despite this, it’s intriguing to observe that even the least content group still largely expresses contentment.

Trust also plays a vital role here. All consumers, regardless of the vehicle segment, reported high trust in their vehicle's technology. Snowmobile riders topped the trust charts at 92%, while boats lagged slightly at 77%.

This high satisfaction and comfort with technology not only demonstrate its vital role in the powersports industry but also highlight the successful integration of these features into the vehicles. As we delve deeper, we'll examine how technology influences purchasing decisions in the powersports industry.

Technology and Its Influence on Purchasing Decisions

During the decision-making process, technology has some sway over consumers. An impressive 79% of consumers believe that up-to-date technology is important when purchasing a powersports vehicle. Only a small fraction, 9%, do not deem it important, revealing the central role of technology in influencing buying choices.

When it comes to the degree of influence, there's a spread. A quarter of consumers (26%) report being significantly influenced by technology features when purchasing a new powersports vehicle. More than half (52%) say they are somewhat influenced, indicating a moderate impact, while 13% won’t be influenced at all. This shows that technology can be a compelling factor, albeit to varying degrees, in shaping purchasing decisions.

Beyond buying decisions, consumers also see a strong correlation between advanced technology and rider safety. A resounding 85% of consumers believe that advanced technology on a powersports vehicle enhances rider safety, while 83% believe that it enhances the overall riding experience. It's clear that technology is not just a buying motivator but also contributes significantly to riders' safety and enjoyment.

Brand Preferences and Upgrade Considerations

When it comes to brand preferences for technology, consumers in the powersports industry have their favorites. BMW leads the pack with 17%, followed closely by Garmin at 15%. Honda, Yamaha, Polaris, KTM, and Bosch also rank high in consumer preferences, showing a diverse range of trusted brands within the industry.

Moving to the topic of technology upgrades, the picture gets a little more nuanced. Only 18% of consumers are considering upgrading the technology on their current powersports vehicle. A larger segment, 42%, are still weighing their options, indicating a potential for growth in the tech upgrade market. Meanwhile, 30% have decided they are unlikely to make any changes.

When it comes to the installation of these upgrades, consumers seem relatively confident. A third of consumers would feel very comfortable installing the upgrades themselves, and 39% would be somewhat comfortable. The remaining 27% would not feel comfortable at all, suggesting the need for professional assistance or detailed guides.

As we can see, while brand loyalty and upgrade considerations vary, they present interesting avenues for further exploration and development in the industry. Let's now shift focus to future technology trends and consumer awareness.

Future Technology Trends and Consumer Awareness

In terms of future technology, consumers are clear about what they want to see. Advanced GPS tracking and navigation systems top the list, with 64% of consumers eager for these enhancements. Improved safety features follow closely at 60%, reinforcing the earlier trend of safety being a priority. More intuitive digital interfaces (46%), enhanced smartphone integrations (43%), and improved vehicle battery life (28%) also make the cut, reflecting consumer desires for ease of use, connectivity, and sustainability.

Despite this excitement for future technology, there's a gap when it comes to awareness of upcoming advancements. Only a third of consumers are aware of the emerging technologies in the powersports industry. Of those, some cited advancements such as adaptive cruise control, advanced ABS systems, advanced traction control systems, and different ride modes.

Clearly, while there's considerable anticipation for new technology, there's also a need to boost awareness about upcoming innovations. This opens up opportunities for brands to engage consumers in educational efforts. As we've seen, technology plays a significant role in the powersports industry. Now, let's consider how these insights can be leveraged by stakeholders.

Recommendations for Stakeholders

As technology continues to drive changes in the powersports industry, stakeholders can glean valuable insights from these survey findings to adapt their strategies and improve their offerings.

Firstly, it's evident that safety-centric technology features such as anti-lock braking systems and traction control are highly valued across different vehicle types. This suggests that stakeholders should continue to prioritize safety-related innovations in their development roadmap. Additionally, features enhancing comfort and performance are also crucial, indicating the need to balance safety with user-friendly design and efficiency.

Secondly, the survey shows a substantial amount of trust and satisfaction among consumers with their powersports technology. While this is encouraging, it should not be a reason for complacency. There is room for improvement, particularly in the boating segment where satisfaction levels, though high, were the lowest among all vehicle categories. Stakeholders should continually seek feedback and invest in areas that would further boost satisfaction and trust levels.

Another key insight revolves around the potential for technology upgrades. With a large number of consumers either considering or undecided about upgrades, there's a window of opportunity for manufacturers and service providers to market add-on technologies and installation services.

Importantly, stakeholders should also take note of consumers' anticipation for advancements such as GPS tracking, improved safety features, and intuitive digital interfaces. These are areas that could potentially shape the future of the industry and are worth investing in. At the same time, there's a clear need to raise awareness about emerging technologies, suggesting an increased role for educational marketing initiatives.

Lastly, stakeholders should consider the brand preferences revealed in this survey. Aligning their strategies with the strengths of preferred brands could lead to more effective product development and marketing efforts. In conclusion, the key to navigating the future of the powersports industry lies in understanding the evolving relationship between consumers and technology.

about the author

Tristin Burdick

Research Analyst, EPG Specialty Information

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