One would think that an industry like the yacht industry where clients are Ultra High Net Worth individuals money is no object and that should reflect on pushing technology boundaries forward. Yet if you look at yachts of 2014, there is a great deal of automation, interior design gimmicks like moving tv and wireless connected devices, but is there truly any game changing technology.
In my view the yacht industry should be what F1 is for the car industry, where new technologies get tested and then translated into widely available technologies. However, as we all know the yachting industry isn’t made of high R&D budgets and mass production of units and therefore this does not happen. On the other hand, one of the greatest business challenges of running a shipyard is securing business that is stable and ongoing which is not easy to do, simply because yachts are probably the ultimate luxury item and therefore marked as a non-urgent expense during periods of economic uncertainty. As a consequence, some shipyards that can’t afford to rely on new builds alone, go heavily into the service industry extending their areas of operations to Yacht Charters, Yacht refits and after sale services, maintenance and repairs, which are let’s face it all hardly scalable business lines and merely a way to maximise revenue from existing assets and human resources.
What’s the solution then? Technology is one and more broadly IP is another one. If you look around you’ll notice that very few big brands in the yacht industry capitalise on their IP or even have any protected IP other than their brand.
Why there is so little valuable innovation and so little game changing technologies coming from the Yacht industry while there is so much coming from the aviation industry.
The initially-criticised Luca Bassani, founder of Wally Yachts who clearly had a background in another industry managed to make a mark in the yacht industry in much less time then most established brands have done, but why? Surely he had enough money to afford it but also had the courage to dare, to re-think things that were traditionally done in a certain way and to challenge and bend the rules enough to give his brand a unique identity in the industry. It’s also noteworthy that almost from the start the Wally brand was on sky equipment and other hi-tech products in different markets.
Yet that of Wally was a slightly different take on the industry but was it really game changing? No it wasn’t. The use of fiberglass is, hydrofoil technology is, as for tubeless tyres on cars and direct fuel ignition.
In brief the role of innovators in the yacht industry is really left to the power units, propulsion systems, electronics manufacturers, and chemical companies; in other words companies like MTU, Caterpiller, ZF, MAN, Raymarine, Akzo Nobel(aka International Yacht Paint) etc.. Whereas companies like Hamilton jet almost prefer not to look at the yacht industry as a whole and focus on commercial marine applications. Main yacht manufacturing brands seem not to be motivated enough to invest in R&D to develop IP that can be employed in the industry and licensed into other industries providing for a sound and stable scalable economic growth. Why is that?
Leave us a comment we would be glad to take your point of view on the topic of innovation. Why do you think the Yacht Industry is so backward?