Vicious Rumors And Vile Gossip: Wait, Could Honda Come Back to PWC?


I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This last September really took the wind out of my sails when Kawasaki revealed very little in regards to new vehicles for 2014. “Now wait,” I hear you saying. “They radically improved the engine efficiency, cooling and oiling, making it produce an extra 10-horsepower over its already industry leading 300.” And you know what, you’d be right. It’s great stuff.

But c’mon man, that motor needed some attention anyways. Where were the new skis? Motocross handlebars on a 300X does not a new model make. How about a new entry level? How about an Ultra 300X-powered STX? Where was that? Oh, and how about that four-stroke standup we all know Kawasaki has? Seriously, guys. Make with the products people are asking for already.

I bring all this up because my sources pretty much confirmed that these were what the future held for the Big K. Putting what reliability I have on the line is a big deal, so that’s why its with some trepidation that I let out something I’ve been holding close to my vest for a few months…Honda wants back in.

You’re not going to see a press release or some leaked images floating around the web. No, these are below-the-surface grumblings that have the makings of a comeback tour for the one manufacturer that could’ve risen to the top had they been willing. Let me explain:

Honda terminated production of the full-sized F-15 series after Powerhouse dealers struggled to move previous edition F- and R-12 series Aquatrax.

Despite being a major force in the motorcycle, motocross, ATV, and off-road segments, Honda Motorsports never really gave the Aquatrax a chance to shine. Considering the size of the Honda Motorsports machine, the Aquatrax could’ve been an industry leader. But again, Honda got in its own way. They were exorbitantly priced, particularly considering a dismal lack of features, and were literally hard to find.

Honda PWC were sold explicitly through select Powerhouse Honda dealers in only four countries: Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia. No Central and South America, no European continent, no East and South East nations. I find this exceptionally bizarre. By heavily restricting availability, the Aquatrax PWC never really had the chance to spread.

When Honda announced that they were ceasing production of their PWC, the newly appointed chairman of Honda Motorsports was quoted as saying, “We need to focus our efforts on selling the product we already have. Once that is done, then we can organize ourselves in building new product.”

Those few Powerhouse dealers who had permission to sell Aquatrax still sat on dozens of unsold units ranging back several years. Domestically, it took until late last year for the final few unsold F-12s and F-15s to finally move. That would sound pretty dismal were it not for two things:

Although the Honda’s clearly showed promise, very few opted to modify or actively compete aboard the Aquatrax although aftermarket support from Worx Racing and Macsboost revealed huge potential.

First, I received word that engineers from the American Honda Motorsports headquarters in Torrance, California, were seeking out used F-12 and turbo-charged F-12X’s with incredibly high hours. And for the record, these were corporate purchases, not a pair of Honda employees who wanted to go jump surf outside of Queensgate.

Some idle chitchat revealed that the wheels were moving within Honda to evaluate whether the product they made stood up to the harsh rigors of extended riding and what could be learned from it. It bears explaining that major manufacturers take slow, methodical steps when it comes to moves like starting up a product line, and every avenue begs exploring.

Moreover, Honda’s smaller R-12X two-seater was nimble, loose and fun – all adjectives applied to the new Spark. But the difference is that the R-12X was fast too. Lightweight and turbo-charged, the R-12X was originally aimed at Sea-Doo’s RXP. But now, it has the opportunity to claim the vacant middle ground between the Spark and the larger RXP-X of today.

Meanwhile, phone calls have been made to dealers gauging interest in Sea-Doo’s newly minted entry-level runabout, the Spark. Why the Spark? Because Honda launched the motorcycle-equivalent, the “Grom” earlier this year to rave reviews earning them intimate understanding of BRP’s tactics.

More importantly, it was revealed earlier this year that Honda Motorsports’ Timmonsville, South Carolina, manufacturing facility still has all of the original molds, tooling and equipment necessary to rekindle production in short time. Alas, these are not smoking guns, but any means, but circumstantial evidence to something that may or may not happen. But again, it’s worth mentioning.

Personally, I loved Honda’s full-sized F-15X. It was stable in chop, intuitive in corners, and reliable to boot. It behaved like a blend of Kawasaki’s Ultra 260X (before Kawasaki reshaped the Ultra’s hull for the 300) and Yamaha’s FX Cruiser, and was just a great looking three-seater. Sure, it was overpriced and lacked three-quarters the accessories that came standard on a Sea-Doo GTI Limited, but I was still a fan.

There are still quite a few loyal Honda Aquatrax riders out there – as well as folks who are brand loyal because of their cars and motorcycles who would happily cross over. But, it Honda is going to seriously consider returning to watercraft, they need to think less exclusive and more inclusive.

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Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

15 comments

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  1. Avatar
    Graha Wallace 28 November, 2013 at 18:49 Reply

    It would be great if Honda would re enter the pwc market.I bought a new F15x 2008 in Florida and I’m
    In the process of shipping it to New Zealand, that’s how much I like the F15x.

  2. Avatar
    Jeff Klossner 1 February, 2015 at 13:05 Reply

    Got to this article late (obviously) but a good point on Honda loyalty. I drive a 2010 Honda Ridgeline, cut the grass with a Honda mower and would jettison my Yamaha Waverunner GP800R (and soon to have Sea-Doo GTI SE) in an INSTANT if Honda AquaTrax were rekindled.

    • Avatar
      Charles Pastore 16 October, 2017 at 10:36 Reply

      Hey i really like the yamahas. But i am a honda guy to 2007 civic ex ,mover 217, 13hp comercial honda pressure washer. What i would like to see ,is honda balls up and make a full size v8 pickup that is capable of towing up to 14,000lbs. And maybe a honda camper. Ok ,,, maybe the camper is over the top. But you take all the ideas from the compeditors and improve it to be better. Yamaha is right up there.

  3. Avatar
    AC 1 April, 2015 at 17:45 Reply

    Hawkeye Honda in davenport Iowa have 2009 f15s. Bad marketing and hard to find does not even touch how bad Honda is at promoting the leftovers still for sale. I bought 2 cuz Honda is never coming back 🙁

    • Avatar
      Jon 25 October, 2017 at 09:45 Reply

      These are no longer available. I figured it was a long shot. They said they get about 3 or 4 calls/year on these lol.

  4. Avatar
    Skip 25 May, 2016 at 08:55 Reply

    I have a Honda Ridgeline, Honda power washer, Honda mower, Honda generator. My kids drive Honda cars. When ever I look for a new product with a motor, I always look to see if Honda makes one first. I would gladly replace my 2 Kawasaki skis with Hondas, but can’t without going used. I don’t buy anything used. I like knowing how it was broke in and maintained and that’s why mine last. Honda is missing the boat on product loyalty

  5. Avatar
    Patrick B 10 June, 2017 at 00:15 Reply

    I own a 2002 Aquatrax F12X turbo. Even after being submerged in muck from Labor Day to early October 2015 it still runs with plenty of power to handle the big wave of Lake Michigan. Definitely one of my smarter purchases, as I look back.

  6. Avatar
    Bob Shaules 17 August, 2017 at 18:14 Reply

    I don’t think Honda will get back into the PWC business. It’s not profitable. Look at the number of dealers that have dropped personal watercraft. I have to take my Aquatrax to Las Vegas to get it serviced. The dealers don’t want them. PWC don’t sell like they did in the 90’s. Honda was not the only manufacturer that got out of the PWC business. The new four strokes are much more expensive than the older 2 stroke models. People don’t want to invest $13,000 to $15,000 in something that can only be used in the summertime. Most people just rent now. Honda is not going to invest money in something that will ultimately not be profitable.

  7. Avatar
    Charles Pastore 16 October, 2017 at 10:43 Reply

    You know , the fact that these few honda pwc are the first and last. This could make them a valuable collection piece .

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