I will never design anything but imaginary vehicles for the Far Future, so I greatly admire real vehicle designers, with that combination of brains and guts that’s so difficult to find nowadays…
An interesting article on Sea-doo Sparks an be found here: but what especially interests me was the bit on the development of the jet-ski… then the overdevelpment… then the return to the roots.
In the mid-1990s, US Personal Watercraft (PWC) sales sat around 200,000 per year. These days, you’re looking at less than 50,000, according to BoatingIndustry.com. Even before the 2008 global financial crisis, they were in the 80,000 a year range. The simple fact is, they’re nowhere near as popular as they used to be.
Part of that could come down to social factors. Irresponsible jet ski riders gave the devices a bad rap in the late 90s and 2000s, and many areas enacted new laws restricting where and how they could be used. But another part of the story has to be the direction of their development – bigger, faster, heavier, more horsepower, more expensive.
For a device that’s essentially a toy, and serves very little practical purpose unless you happen to conveniently live across a lake from your local milk bar, the cost is hard to justify. A powerful jet ski with a trailer can easily set you back upwards of US$20,000 – and with well over 200 horsepower on tap from gigantic engines that tend to run flat-out most of the time, they guzzle petrol at a truly frightening rate as well. Not to mention the sheer size of the things – you’re giving up a whole large car spot in your garage to store one.
Which leads us to why Gizmag’s spindly editor Noel and I, two motorcyclists, are out here testing a jet ski. Because Sea-Doo has developed a new PWC that sells for around half the price of a regular jet ski. One that looks like it might turn the whole industry’s fortunes around, and one that’s targeted at people who would never have thought of getting into the market before – and that, right there, is us.
An interesting tale. A absolutely hard-core Traveller fan could gather a good set of these hidden development tales, then rewrite them to fit the Traveller setting. Better yet: get the more techie PCs involved in the design of equipment (complete with competitors, theft, beating deadlines, raising money), and then testing it in the field…