Two big names in the outboard industry — Evinrude and Yamaha — introduced new product to their dealers and the media this summer.
Bombardier Recreational Products advanced its Evinrude E-TEC next-generation 2-stroke technology to the midrange of its outboard lineup, debuting several models from 150 to 200 hp, and Yamaha upgraded its biggest 4-stroke, the 350-hp V-8, which was first introduced nearly a decade ago.
“We’ve made so many improvements to the F350 over the past few years, mainly involving maintenance and durability, that it was time to present them as a package in a new next-generation engine,” Yamaha product information manager David Meeler said at a press introduction in June in Baltimore. “So we have a new engine with a freshened-up look, and we’re now covering it with a 5-year warranty.”
About 28 journalists attended Yamaha’s summer media event in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Eight boats, ranging from 18 to 36 feet, were in the water at Harbor East Marina. Two were rigged with the new F350Cs — an Everglades 325cc and a 27-foot Shearwater.
Less than two weeks after Yamaha’s June 14-15 gathering, BRP introduced four new E-TEC G2 models — the G2 150, 150 H.O. (high output), 175 and 200 — at an Evinrude Global Reveal event in Milwaukee. The new outboards join the high-horsepower G2 models introduced in 2014 that range from the 200 H.O. to 300.
A key segment
“With 200-plus-hp engines, your reach is smaller and caters to the offshore saltwater market, the bass fishing and professional fishing markets, and the larger pontoons,” says Alain Villemure, vice president and general manager of BRP’s marine propulsion systems division. “With the 150, we are serving a segment that all boat manufacturers exploit and is very important. So we will further spread the word about our innovative G2 technology.”
The engines were installed on 37 boats of all types. There were more than 1,000 people from Evinrude dealerships and 41 editors from 10 countries at the event. Speakers included BRP president and CEO Jose Boisjoli, Villemure and other company representatives.
A key objective of the get-together was to show dealers how to sell the G2 2-stroke technology by fully explaining the performance benefits of the engines and their accompanying steering, throttle-and-shift and trim technologies and features.
Torque, fuel economy and low emissions stand out as the three major performance strengths of the engines, says Villemure. “You’re pushing a boat through water, so there is no other product line where torque is so critical. We want to explain our advantages in this area. There is a sense of skepticism because the gap between [our torque performance] and the competitors’ is so wide. Having engineers to explain the why and how is important, as is having the opportunity to try the product and experience the performance firsthand.”
Before editors and dealers hit the water, BRP put on a memorable stage presentation to introduce the new engines. Part of the pomp and circumstance included a group of dancers performing with live music.
“We wanted to have a presentation that matches the high level of technology and value of the product — a presentation that gave justice to the product,” says Villemure. “We wanted to create energy and get the dealers in the right mindset. The dealers are working super-hard, and they are in the middle of their season, so they deserve something special. And we know how to give it to them.”
The G2 platform consists of more than just the engines, says Villemure. The company also introduced a virtual dashboard that enables the display and direct control of engine features from a mobile device — Evinrude E-Link. E-Link shares E-TEC G2 engine data over an NMEA 2000 network via Wi-Fi to any iOS or Android device, from anywhere on a boat.
Evinrude E-Link mirrors the data shown on Evinrude’s ICON Touch displays, giving users fingertip access to such information as RPM, fuel flow, trim position and oil level, as well as fuel level, battery voltage and water depth.
The remainder of the fleet — from 25 to 135 hp — also will be upgraded with G2. No dates have been announced, but BRP executives this year said the entire lineup will be upgraded in three to five years.
Back on the East Coast, journalists got a chance to test Yamaha’s F350C and its recently introduced V MAX SHO high-performance outboards. Demos also were given on boats equipped with Helm Master, Yamaha’s integrated boat control system, in twin- and triple-outboard configurations.
Yamaha introduced the V-8 350, which has a displacement of 5.3 liters, in 2007. “The F350 allowed outboard power to be used in places it had never been used before,” says Meeler. “These were never intended to be lightweight engines. They were designed to push large outboard-powered boats. The engine has great torque — that low-speed and midrange ‘grunt.’ ”
Improvements to the F350C include the addition of Yamaha’s Shift Dampener System, which virtually removes “clunking” noises and vibration during shifting and low-speed operation. Since the F350 hit the market nearly a decade ago it has gotten leaner, with an incremental weight reduction from 804 to 763 pounds.
The engine is also smarter, with a better electronic control unit, which alerts owners when the engine is due for selective maintenance points. Yamaha also has improved the engine’s corrosion resistance in areas near the waterline.
With all the advances, it made sense for Yamaha to increase warranty coverage from three to five years, Meeler says. “We want to let the world know we thoroughly stand behind this trendsetter of a product,” he says.
Yamaha also introduced a new Talon propeller designed for its 4-strokes from 70 to 115 hp, as well as its 50- and 60-hp high-thrust 4-strokes and any older 2-strokes from 60 to 130 hp.
Within the Talon range is the new Talon Pontoon SDS propeller, which is designed to move large loads with extra control and thrust without shift noise or vibration, says Meeler.
Yamaha Marine sponsors the National Aquarium with twin F300s for the organization’s 35-foot aluminum power cat research vessel, which is dedicated to shark research and the restoration of local wetlands.
In addition to testing boats and engines, attendees had the opportunity to fish with Yamaha pros and B.A.S.S. Elite anglers Mike Iaconelli and Randall Tharp.
This is the first time Yamaha has hosted a press event in the Mid-Atlantic region, says Martin Peters, Yamaha Marine Group communications manager. “In a unique urban setting, the area offers a great fishery … in this historic harbor.”
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue.