A while back, right before 2008 crash, I was juggling some numbers for my boat building buddy who just came over from the Old Country then. He was initially very surprised at the boat show
prices of under 30 footers, both power and sail, as he said those are very cheap
to build, especially 15 to 22 ft range. He said that back home they priced them by pound of building materials. So we started researching the possibility of having a line of 16-20ft wakeboards my buddy has designed and sold successfully back home. Turned out that once the mold
are done (the most expensive part of the puzzle) we could churn out the actual hulls at about $2,000 a pop plus amortization of the mold/plug cost which was about $100-150K and could foresee a possibility of selling them directly online at say $6,000-8,000 in the 100s, making a killing.
Then came the reality check - EPA, local zoning laws, cost of production space including all the ventilation and safety
systems, OSHA, state tax and enviro nazis, neighbors' opposing a resin rich facility next to them, etc, etc. With these costs added we would not be making anything until about $25-30K a boat on the retail side, which turned out to be about the market price
now, give or take. All we could do to compete would be to offer an above average product but that would take years or decades to establish the reputation, not to mention above average production costs as well.
Chinese makers don't have all those hurdles to overcome thus we have what we have. Taking an expansive view, marine
industry will never overcome its major hurdle, high cost of the initial entry and subsequent support, until it brings down the price
of its product down to a level any Joe, Dick and Harry can afford, especially considering that unlike cars boats for the vast majority of the public are not essential to one's ability to earn an income
or function in society. A $5-8K new 16-18ft boat anyone can have in one's garage, a $30-40K one - not so much.