Stellar rise in outboard sales

As global outboard sales reach record highs we look at current and future global trends and how the arrival of diesel will affect the market

  • Outboard sales rising in the USA and Europe, partly driven by a shift in consumer demand from cruisers to day boats
  • Demand for high performance engines increases
  • High demand for powerful diesel outboards predicted, particularly in commercial, defence and superyacht markets

As marine propulsion trends go, the outboard engine‘s rise to superstar status has been quite phenomenal over the last ten years. A sizeable shift in the type of boats consumers want is certainly a contributing factor. With time at a premium, shorter excursions are becoming more popular and users are increasingly looking for fast, easy-to-handle dayboats.

Why are outboards so popular today?


Many boatbuilders point to the enhanced versatility provided by outboard power. Unlike inboards, they can be trimmed for optimal performance or to allow users to venture into shallower waters and raised right out of the water when not in use to reduce corrosion in salt water.

Improved performance & reliability

Significant technological advances over the last 10-15 years, and the advent of four-stroke engines and direct fuel injection two-strokes, have resulted in lighter engines with better reliability, increased fuel efficiency, easier maintenance and all-round user-friendliness.

Ease of use

Today’s time-strapped boater is less willing to spend time learning the intricacies of seamanship, so modern integrated system features like digital throttle and shift, automatic trim and digital positioning systems make getting afloat with an outboard far more straightforward.

Twin, triples & quads

Multiple outboards on the stern will drive a boat more speedily than an inboard, due to the beneficial power-to-weight ratio. Using more than one engine also provides the certainty that if something goes wrong with one engine, you can always use the other to get home safely.

Global trends for 2019

Outboards now make up the majority of global engine sales, ranging from two-stroke engines popular in poorer emerging markets to the more complex four-stroke models that dominate maturer markets in both Europe and the USA.

A move to single fuel policies to promote safety in the commercial, armed forces and superyacht markets is expected to drive strong global sales of high-powered diesel outboards. The lower total cost of ownership and greater fuel efficiency – 25% better than its gasoline equivilant for Cox’s CXO300 – mean these newly emerging diesel outoards are likey to be the engines of choice for commercial users who are also impressed by their high torque and long range.

Take a closer look at the driving forces behind the rise in outboard ownership and how this breaks down across the continents.