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Yanmar gets into the sterndrive game

Diesel manufacturer Yanmar has entered the sterndrive market with an innovation the company says may send ripples through the marine propulsion market.

What distinguishes Yanmar’s ZT350 engine and outdrive is its hydraulic clutch, which eliminates the familiar “clunk” that accompanies each shift into gear on drives with cone clutches. The cone clutch has been a standard to sterndrive technology since the first sterndrive, Volvo-Penta’s Aquamatic, debuted in 1959.

“Like an inboard, [the ZT350] very smoothly goes into gear,” says Greg Eck, special projects manager for Yanmar. “This is a revolution in sterndrive technology and will raise the bar for our competition.”

In the U.S. marine engine market, those competitors are Volvo-Penta and Mercury Marine’s MerCruiser, which dominate the market. Yamaha left the U.S. sterndrive market in the mid-1990s.

The other selling point to the ZT350, Eck says, is that Yanmar manufactures both the engine and the drive unit. “We’ve designed it and matched it to our engine. We produce the whole package, so there’s one point for sales and service — a complete package — and buyers like that,” Eck says.

The ZT350 will be matched with Yanmar’s BY and LP diesels. The BY models include two 4-cylinder (150 hp and 180 hp) and two 6-cylinder engines (220 hp and 260 hp). The LP model is a 6-cylinder 315-hp engine.
Eck says the ZT350 has passed an extensive and vigorous testing program. “Anyone who’s owned a Yanmar knows that the transmissions are as durable as the engine,” Eck says.

Yanmar sells the ZT350 with a two-year warranty, the same offered on its transmissions, which the company began building in-house several years ago. The ZT350 was introduced at last fall’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and was again displayed at the Miami International Boat Show in February. The unit became available for sale in January.

Yanmar is offering the ZT350 package for either new-boat installations or repowers. Yanmar does not publish a list price, but Eck says the ZT350 is priced “competitive to a Merc-Bravo unit.” www.yan mar.com

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.

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