FLIBS 2011: VIDEO: Mercury unveils 150 FourStroke engine

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FORT LAUDERDALE - About 50 marine journalists gathered at the International Game Fish Hall of Fame as part of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Thursday night for a presentation highlighting the benefits of the new 150 FourStroke engine from Mercury Marine.

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"This is the lightest 150-hp 4-stroke in the world," said Steve Miller, Mercury Marine brand manager for large outboards. "We have the highest displacement, but the lowest weight. There is a saying, 'There's no replacement for displacement.’ This is a very low-stressed engine."

The new motor weighs 455 pounds and has an engine displacement of 183 cubic inches. The eight-valve engine weighs 55 pounds less than its predecessor (the Verado four-cylinder 150) and can be used to power a variety of boats, from inshore bay boats to RIBs to offshore center console fishing and cruising boats, Miller said.

Click play to watch Miller talk about the engine's benefits.

The 150 FourStroke is the perfect choice for repowering as well, he said. "Because of the lighter weight you can mount the engines on older boats that normally could not handle the weight of an older 4-stroke," said Miller, who gave a 40-minute slideshow presentation that touched on the engine's exhaust system, engine oil cooler, 60-amp alternator and hydrodynamic gear case.

But the key point driven home was the engine's weight, which is only 24 pounds more than the 150-hp Mercury OptiMax 2-stroke, and its high displacement. Mercury's presentation listed the weights of its 150-hp 4-stroke competitors: Suzuki, 474 pounds; Yamaha 476 pounds; and Honda 478 pounds. The other 2-stroke in this horsepower is the Evinrude E-TEC, which has a six-cylinder engine with a displacement of 158 cubic inches and weighs 418 pounds.

Touting its durability, Mercury says it tested the 150 in severe conditions, including 20-foot swells off the west coast of Canada, said Steve Fleming, Mercury’s communications director. The 150 FourStroke will be available in December at a retail price of about $13,000.

I had a chance to run the new 150 for about 20 minutes this morning. It was mounted on a 19-foot Boston Whaler. The engine popped the boat out of the hole quickly and showed some impressive mid-range power. I will be filing a more extensive report in the next issue of Soundings Trade Only.

Reporter's notebook

Prior to Miller's presentation, Mercury announced the winners of an online video contest it held this year, prompted during the brainstorming for a video on the 150 FourStroke. The engine manufacturer received more than 300 videos from Mercury outboard owners and their families in the United States, Canada and other spots around the world, said Mike Shedivy, Mercury’s vice president of marketing.

One of the winning videos was submitted by a young family from Canada (Orleans, Ontario). It featured Kelsey and Kalan King, ages 9, and 7, respectively, performing a skit in which their labeling of a broken-down competitor engine came to life when they placed a cardboard Mercury placard on its powerhead. The boys and their parents, Lonnie King and Linda Germain, were in the audience for the presentation.

One of the judges, Jose Wejebe, host of the TV fishing show "The Spanish Fly," served as one of the judges for the video contest. (Mercury sponsors Wejebe. He uses a trio of Mercury Verado 300-hp outboards on his boat, a 39-foot SeaVee.)

"I really want to tell the story of the King family video," Webeje said before the movie was shown. "But I have to let the video speak for itself."

For winning the contest, the family received a new Mercury outboard. They have yet to choose the model.

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Mercury Marine and Cummins Diesel formed a partnership in 2002 to supply integrated diesel propulsion systems to the market. Mercury Marine will now be responsible for the worldwide sales, distribution, service and support of the CMD range of high-speed diesel engine systems, including the TDI/SDI ranges of Volkswagen diesel engines, Kevin Grodzki, Mercury’s president of sales and marketing and commercial operations.

Mercury and CMD are still partners, and CMD will continue to oversee the production and distribution of the higher-horsepower models, which includes engines for the Zeus pod-drive system.

"The market has changed, and what we found was that the customer base for the high-speed diesel market lines up very well with gasoline sterndrive engines and outboard engines, so what we decided to do was take that piece of the [Mercury-CMD venture] — the high-speed diesels only — and shift that over to Mercury's responsibility," Grodzki told about 50 marine journalists during a press event Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale show.

Mercury will take over this portion of the business after a transition period lasting through 2012, Grodzki said. The high-speed engines include the new lineup of TDI diesel engines from Volkswagen now being offered in a joint venture between CMD and Volkswagen.

"Volkswagen is going to be an outstanding partner, with the technology they have and the performance of their engines," Grodzki said. "The scope and scale that they have as a manufacturer and a partner is going to change the industry. And with our distribution and service network, that technology will be brought to a much wider base."

— Chris Landry

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