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It has been a year of solid growth for Cox Marine. In February, the Shoreham-by-Sea, U.K.-based manufacturer announced that it had raised about $12.5 million from shareholders and borrowed about $4.2 million, with plans to expand its manufacturing facility and increase production of its CXO300 diesel outboard.

The 300-hp engine, which is available in three shaft lengths — 25, 30 and 35 inches — is NMEA 2000-compatible and designed to match industry standards for installation on outboard-powered boats. As production ramps up to meet demand, the company continues to grow its U.S. and global dealer network and expand collaborations with established boatbuilders. Most recently, Cox Marine launched Coxswain, a detailed customer service app.

We caught up with founder and chairman Charles Good to discuss production timelines, juggling supply-chain issues and more.

The yacht-tender segment is one of the markets Cox Marine is targeting. 

The yacht-tender segment is one of the markets Cox Marine is targeting. 

Did the injection of capital earlier this year help ramp up production and allow the facility to complete more diesel outboards?

It has helped prepare us to ramp up production. We’re currently shipping approximately 50 engines per month, and we are expecting this to rise to over 100 per month by year end. Our production facility in the U.K. is designed to make 4,000 units per annum, a target we intend to reach over the medium term.

Supply-chain issues had threatened to delay delivery of the power, tilt and trim system, so Cox moved production in-house. Can you elaborate?

Bringing the PTT line in-house was a very positive step for us as a business, and this has completely resolved the production challenges we were having. We now have very good supply of PTTs which meet our exacting standards. We have the same supply-chain problems as other manufacturing businesses globally. The way that we are dealing with this is to work extremely closely with our suppliers so that we can mutually resolve potential issues before they become a problem.

Can you talk about the emissions standards that Cox has met during the past year?

We are fully compliant with all relevant emissions standards in the markets we are currently supplying in North America, EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] and APAC [Asia Pacific], and are currently one of the very few high-powered diesel outboards that has U.S Environmental Protection Agency, E.U. Recreational Craft Directive and International Maritime Organization approval.

The recently launched Coxswain customer service app

The recently launched Coxswain customer service app

How does the 300-hp engine compare with its gas counterparts in terms of maintenance, fuel consumption and torque?

Independent comparisons have shown the CXO300 to be up to 30 percent more fuel efficient compared to a gasoline outboard. Our engines produce at least 25 percent less CO2 than the equivalent gasoline engine, so we can say that they have a very beneficial impact on the environment compared with gasoline. Our engines are leaders in low emissions; as an example, we are especially proud that we recently became the only outboard engine to be permitted on Lake Bodensee (aka Lake Constance) in Germany, where the most stringent emissions regulations are in existence.

[The CXO300] delivers peak torque from 1,500 rpm all through the rev range, and [torque] is 479 pound-feet, significantly higher than a [comparabily powered] gas outboard, maximizing our hole-shot performance.

The price is roughly two times the cost of a comparable gas outboard. How does the Cox team persuade the consumer to make the leap?

The CXO300 offers a much lower total cost of ownership. This is driven by the significantly lower fuel costs mentioned above. We have one heavy user who tells us that they are saving well over $100,000 per annum versus gas for a twin installation, so the biggest driver is quick payback from lower fuel costs, but also the longer design life and, therefore, replacement cycle of our engines.

Our engines are built to last a lot longer than gasoline engines — 3,000 hours in a commercial-use case and longer for light leisure use. Diesel is more widely available than gasoline, especially so for less-developed markets outside the U.S.
Diesel is also quite difficult to ignite and much less of a fire hazard than gasoline. There are many use cases where gasoline is banned in offshore service locations, e.g., offshore oil supply vessels, therefore making diesel a more viable option.

An outboard reaches final production checks before shipping

An outboard reaches final production checks before shipping

Tell us about the collaboration with Axopar. Will the builder offer your engines as optional power?

We have a very strong relationship with Axopar, and we are sure this will go from strength to strength. Currently, we are exploring the best ways of a collaboration which is in its infancy, but going very well. Axopar is a modern production-line boatbuilder bringing best practices and state-of-the-art design to volume boatbuilding in Europe, and of course, their customers would like to have the benefits of a diesel option.

Are there any other builders that offer Cox on their option list?

None that can be talked about yet, but as is self-evident, there are many other manufacturers who will have customers who want diesel outboards for their boats, so we expect a higher demand in this market over the next few months.

How much business is Cox seeing on the repower side?

At present, this represents a small proportion of our business, but we expect that to grow as our product gains wider acceptance and traction in the market.

Has the NATO single-fuel directive helped grow the business?

This is a slow burn, as the military sector of the overall market requires a lot of testing before they will place orders. We are engaging with several NATO countries currently, and we are confident that our outboard will prove to be very popular in this market.

How is Cox getting the word to tender and RIB manufacturers — boats that typically serve the megayacht segment — about the engine’s advantages over gas outboards?

The word is already out there through boat shows, magazine articles and user experience. As you would expect, we are in regular discussion with superyacht builders and owners, and we have already sold a number of units to this market.

The Shoreham, U.K., manufacturing facility.

The Shoreham, U.K., manufacturing facility.

In what ways is the after-sales and service segment supporting customers?

We have a strong after-sales team who are available 24/7 to assist customers and help train dealers to install what is effectively a completely new type of outboard engine. Our objective is to offer the very best service to our customers in this market, and we are building our after-sales capabilities to meet this objective. We have also built up a global network of 35 sophisticated distributors, each a specialist in their local territories, to make sure Cox customers are always near someone for after-sales service.

Our new engine management app, Coxswain, was launched earlier this year to further assist dealers, distributors and customers with reporting faults and gaining fast access to after-sales support. The app provides a unique and personally tailored experience for Cox customers, detailing images of their specific Cox-powered vessel, along with information relating to each outboard, such as warranty, service records, serial numbers and maintenance information — all managed in real time.

What other developments can we expect from Cox in the future? Are there any plans to expand the line?

Yes, but our main priority is the CXO300 fully established in the marketplace before introducing new products. As an OEM, we look at market trends over the next five to 10 years, and we plan to continue to be in the vanguard of
developments outside gasoline propulsion.

Anything else to add?

When I took the helm at Cox in 2009, I did so with the clear intent of not only producing a groundbreaking product to satisfy a huge need for greater fuel efficiency, lower operating costs and safety on board, but also to create a premium product which anyone would be proud to see mounted on the transom of their prized vessel, whether they are a professional operator or high-end leisure user. 

This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.

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