Larger center consoles, bay boats and dual consoles drive Yamaha’s development strategy

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ST. MICHAELS, Md. — Making horsepower is easy, says Yamaha product information manager Ry Landry.

But making horsepower reliable is more of a challenge, he adds.

“The way a boat motor is used and the stresses it is put under are far different than an auto application,” said Landry. “What is the benefit a boater really wants? Better cruise economy.”

The bigger the boat, the bigger the prop needs to be, which is why Yamaha’s XTO Offshore’s propeller has 30 percent more surface area than other motors, said Landry.

With electric power steering, the company eliminated the need for hydraulic pumps, said Landry, speaking to boating journalists during a Yamaha event on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. And because there no longer needs to be direct access to a large portion of the transom, boatbuilders have more room to do things like increase the size of livewells.

With 72 net amps of output, maybe boat owners won’t need to have a generator anymore, he added.

“It’s really about the evolution of boats,” said Landry. “What we’re really seeing is the market for value and mid-range boats dropping, and the premium boats are growing and growing.”

With companies like Back Cove, MJM, Sea Ray and Tiara moving increasingly to outboards, and companies like Viking launching the outboard-powered Valhalla brand, outboard demand continues to grow. With the increasing amount of content on boats, engines need to be able to push more weight.

The average cost of outboard-powered boats went from around $150,000 pre-recession, to around $85,000 just after the recession, to $325,000 in 2017, said Landry. Yamaha expects that trend to continue.

Looking ahead, Yamaha sees consumers continuing to demand integration and innovation, making them easier and more intuitive to use. They also want more content — extras like the Seakeeper gyro and jack plates, said Landry.

That also led to some of the innovations in Yamaha’s HelmMaster — for example, in the SetPoint mode, captains can bump the joystick and change their positioning 10 meters without exiting out of SetPoint, repositioning and resetting it, said Landry.

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