At this year’s FLIBS you will be able to see new gasoline sterndrive engines, diesel inboards and 4-stroke outboards. Most of the major players — including Mercury, Yamaha, Volvo Penta and Cummins — made news in 2014 with new product.
But Bombardier Recreational Products also grabbed a big chunk of the spotlight with the launch of an entirely new lineup of high-horsepower, futuristic-looking 2-stroke outboards — the Evinrude E-TEC G2.
Two of the big three Japanese outboard manufacturers — Yamaha and Suzuki — also came out with new engines. Suzuki debuted its 4-cylinder, 200-hp 4-stroke, the DFA200, and Yamaha rolled out its new F115. Mercury Marine came to the market with three new outboards — 75-, 90- and 115-hp 4-strokes — and a 250-hp gasoline sterndrive.
BRP’s G2 fleet of E-TEC outboards supplants its previous E-TEC engines, which hit the market more than a decade ago, and it reaffirms the Canadian company’s commitment to 2-cycle technology.
BRP has hung with 2-stroke engines because they are the right machines for the job, says Jason Eckman, product marketing manager for marine propulsion systems at BRP.
“[We’re] a world-class leader in innovation and offer a wide variety of propulsion technologies, including 4-stroke engines,” he says. “For the outboard engine application, no other technology better meets the needs of the consumer than E-TEC. Nothing else comes close to delivering the … performance while meeting all emissions requirements.”
Kept under wraps during its two years in development, the G2 also is the first outboard specifically designed for the direct-injection system, BRP says. When the line hits the market this fall, consumers will have the option of 200-, 225-, 250- and 300-hp models. BRP has not disclosed the retail price, but Chris Berg, director of marketing and strategic planning, says it “will be competitively priced with comparable fully rigged 4-stroke competitors.”
The line will be backed by a “5-5-5” warranty of 5-year engine and corrosion protection and 500 hours with no dealer-scheduled maintenance.
BRP says the G2s weigh 539 to 558 pounds, a little more than other 2-strokes, in part because of components such as power steering and a 2-gallon oil reservoir. Innovations include a new “starboard-starboard” engine design that features two identical piston chambers, which BRP says are the primary source of the torque and long-term reliability.
Exclusive features include integrated hydraulic power steering with three levels of assist (minimal, medium and maximum), an i-Trim automatic trim system and dual-axis rigging that routes all engine cables through one tube, making for a clean, clutter-free transom. The company says its new SLX gearcase is a rugged “no compromise” unit.
In other big outboard news, Mercury pumped out three versions of a 2.1-liter outboard with a low weight of 359 pounds — a 75, 90 and 115. The new 4.5-liter 250-hp MerCruiser is the first recreational gasoline sterndrive engine that Mercury has designed and built in-house. (Mercury said last year that it would develop its own engines, instead of relying on the auto industry.
“With outboards, we have always had the luxury of deciding what technology we wanted in our engines, and now we can do the same with our sterndrive engines,” says David Foulkes, vice president of product development, engineering and racing. “The direction of the auto engines was not fully serving our customers. We are now able to give them features that are built into the engine exclusively because they are marine engines.”
A good example is that the new MerCruiser‘s throttle body faces aft instead of forward. “With the previous engines, the throttle body was always facing the driver, and so was the noise that was being generated,“ Foulkes says. “Now we can direct that noise aft and away from the driver.”
The complete sterndrive package ranges from $17,000 to $26,000, depending on the drive. The 75 4-stroke carries an MSRP of $9,235, the 90 runs from $9,665 to $10,030 and the 115 runs from $10,610 to $10,975. The higher-priced 90- and 115-hp models include the Command Thrust gear case.
The Command Thrust models use the same robust gear case housing as the Mercury 150 FourStroke, but with a 2.38-to-1 ratio. The gear case packs more power for heavier boat applications. The outboards and the sterndrive are now available for purchase.
One of the latest outboard trends is the development of the high-horsepower 4-cylinder 4-stroke. Suzuki unveiled its 200-hp version of this — the DF200A 4-cylinder 4-stroke — in June. Suzuki says the inline engine gives boaters performance previously expected from a V-6.
The new design features a 175-cubic-inch “big block” and a higher compression ratio for greater acceleration and low-end torque, the company says. The outboard features Suzuki’s lean burn technology; knock-, O2- and water-detection sensor systems allow better monitoring and control internal operations. The DF200A weighs 498 pounds, more than 12 percent less than Suzuki’s V6 200.
Earlier this year, Suzuki came out with two new small outboards — the DF25A and DF30A, both built with a new in-line 3-cylinder block. The engines are equipped with a battery-less electronic fuel injection system for quicker starts, smoother operation and better acceleration.
Suzuki now also has its own version of joystick steering for outboards. Suzuki Precision Control works with the DF300 and other high-horsepower models. In addition to Suzuki, Yamaha, Evinrude and Mercury have joystick technologies available.
Honda has yet to introduce its own helm joystick control. “The joystick is what would logically follow next, but we at Honda are pretty tight-lipped about the development of new product,” says Honda Marine senior manager Mark DiPietro. “We are always looking for what technology is next, and I know once you have the electronic throttle and shift, [the joystick] is the next logical step.”
At FLIBS, Honda will debut its new fly-by-wire Intelligent Shift and Throttle system, which allows as many as four engines and two control stations. The system will enable Honda to sell its high-horsepower outboards to builders of larger boats, particularly center consoles. At this year’s International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference, Honda was showing its Intelligent Shift and Throttle on two boats — a 30-plus foot Yellowfin with triple Honda BF250s and a 23-foot Everglades with a single BF250 and dual helm stations.
One switch on the throttle controls the trimming of all engines simultaneously, and there are individual trim switches for fine tuning each engine’s trim position. Honda says it has made the installation of iST simple with just one connection of a communication cable between the engine and helm-mounted control head. Adding a second station can be done just as easily by installing a second control head and connecting a cable to the existing system, the company says.
In early September, Yamaha told Trade Only it will unveil new product at a press event Oct. 9-10 at its test center in Bridgeport, Ala. The company remained tight-lipped, saying only that the press will “learn about the new opportunities created by Yamaha Marine and the completed V MAX SHO outboard line.”
Yamaha currently offers 150-, 200-, 225- and 250-hp models of its MAX SHO (Super High Output). These outboards — engineered to maximize hole shot and overall acceleration — are geared to the freshwater bass-boat market.
Yamaha’s latest product introduction was the lighter and more efficient F115, which replaced the 115 that hit the water in 1999. The company also added a 175-hp outboard to bridge the gap between its 150- and 200-hp models.
The new F115 weighs 24 pounds less than the previous model. With more displacement, Yamaha was able to build it lighter while increasing acceleration and power. The F115 displaces 1.8 liters, compared with the original’s 1.7 liters, with increased bore and stroke. The new engine uses the custom Talon propeller, which operates with Yamaha’s Shift Dampener System, which makes for smoother throttle operations. The alternator has more power, too — 35 amps at wide-open throttle.
The fourth Japanese engine maker, Tohatsu, reached an agreement with Honda this year to offer its own brand of 4-strokes from 60 to 250 hp. Honda is building the engines, which it offers in eight sizes (60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225 and 250 hp). Tohatsu uses its own name and logo and colors. Tohatsu will continue to offer engines it already manufactures: TLDI 2-strokes from 40 to 115 hp and 4-strokes from 2.5 to 30 hp.
By now you’ve probably heard about Seven Marine’s 557-hp V8 outboard. The Germantown, Wis., company in 2014 came out with two new drive systems for this engine — the 557CR and 557GT, which debuted at this year’s Miami International Boat Show. The 557CR is designed for yacht-caliber and sportfish outboard boats. Like a sterndrive design, this model uses dual-prop counter-rotating technology. The 557GT, with its surface drive, is designed for speed — 100-plus mph on some performance boats and center console boats, according to the company.
Turning to sterndrives, Volvo Penta’s V8-350, which is based on the V8-380 engine block, was introduced this year. The engine maker says the 350 weighs 200 pounds less than any other engine in its horsepower class. Its light weight gives the engine an excellent power-to-weight ratio, Volvo Penta says.
Last year, Volvo Penta introduced in the United States the V8-430. And in 2012, the Swedish engine maker came to market with the V8-380 and V8-225. The V8-430 is built with the same 6-liter block as the V8-380, but Volvo Penta improved air intake to increase power output.
Mercury Racing, a division of Mercury Marine, recently introduced a 520-hp (at the crankshaft) sterndrive engine it says “fits nicely in both value and performance” between the MerCruiser 8.2L MAG HO and the Mercury Racing 525 EFI.
Cummins has been making news recently by promoting its repowering capabilities. The Charleston, S.C., company has begun a project to install its 380-hp diesel — the QSB6.7 — in two classic 37-foot sportfish boats. A top billfishing destination in Guatemala, the Casa Vieja Lodge, has tapped Cummins to repower Release, a 37-foot Merritt, and Makaira, a 37-foot Rybovich. Once the repowers are complete, Cummins will power the Casa Vieja Lodge’s entire six-boat fleet.
Cummins is also getting the word out about its Inboard Joystick docking system, which works with a “new class of DC thrusters with extended run-time capability,” according to the company. Designed for use with conventional inboards and transmissions, the Inboard Joystick operates with the QSB6.7 (250 to 550 hp), QSC8.3 (500 to 600 hp) QSL9 (285 to 405 hp) and QSM11 (300 to 715 hp) engines.
John Deere has new Tier III engines — the PowerTech 4.5L and 6.8L. The company builds the 6-cylinder 6068T — rated at 158 to 201 hp — with a high-pressure common-rail fuel system and low-temperature aftercoolers.
The 4.5L 4045T is rated at 107 to 135 hp. With fewer external connections, the 4-cylinder engine is simpler to maintain and more reliable. John Deere says the engines will do well providing propulsion for trawlers, launches, workboats and patrol craft.
In the alternative energy department, Elco Motor Yachts launched a new line of 5- and 7-hp motors; a 9.9-hp model will come later this year.
The outboards are designed to meet a growing interest in clean, quiet and fuel-efficient propulsion among recreational and commercial boaters, Elco says. The motors are available at marine dealerships that currently offer Elco products and directly through the company’s website.
“Our inboard motors have long provided the benefits of eco-friendly technology to both leisure and commercial marine enthusiasts who care about preserving our waterways,” Elco CEO Steve Lamando said in a statement when the products were announced in August. “With this new line of electric outboard motors, we see an exciting opportunity to show even more boaters that ‘going electric’ is the easiest possible way to ensure that the next generations of boaters can enjoy our natural resources.”
This year, Elco also debuted the EP-1000, the company’s most powerful electric motor to date. It generates power comparable to a 100-hp diesel. It takes two to three hours to charge; the operating time ranges from two to three hours on batteries only. With a genset, it delivers continuous cruising power.
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue.