Just about every propulsion company in the last 12 months has brought new product to the market in some form, whether sterndrive, outboard, diesel or electric.
Outboard manufacturers have been busy delivering second- generation 4-strokes, several new sterndrives have hit dealer showrooms, and diesels continue to mature with boosts in horsepower and performance. In addition, the integration of navigation, safety and communication electronics with propulsion systems forges ahead as big names merge technologies.
Mercury Marine this winter began a partnership with Simrad. Raymarine has come to the market with the ECI-100 Universal Engine and Control Interface, which allows its products to communicate with propulsion systems from different manufacturers. In a three-way relationship, Garmin, Mastervolt and Scout Boats have taken it a step further, bringing electrical systems — for monitoring and control of components powered by AC or DC sources — fully into play.
Volvo Penta and Garmin have been working together for about two years. The Garmin 8000 serves as the hub of Volvo Penta’s Glass Cockpit system. Garmin has introduced a number of new functions in the latest 8000 (also available via software update for units in the field). Improvements include the ability to use an iPad or iPhone to view and control the Glass Cockpit; support for the display and control of circuits (lights, pumps, etc.) via the BEP CZone controller; and FLIR fixed-mount thermal night vision cameras.
Three of the major outboard makers — Mercury, Suzuki and Evinrude — say they will deliver big news at their on-water press events in June. I plan to attend all three and will report through the Trade Only Today e-newsletter.
Suzuki has already introduced two small outboards this year — the DF25A and DF30A — as it rolls out more second-generation 4-strokes. The engines are equipped with a batteryless electronic fuel injection system that helps deliver quicker starts, smoother operation and better acceleration, according to the company. Both are built with a new in-line 3-cylinder block.
Suzuki also showcased at the Miami International Boat Show its version of joystick steering for outboards, Suzuki Precision Control, which works with its high-horsepower models, such as the DF300. With this introduction, four of five manufacturers now offer joystick operation — Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude and Suzuki.
Mercury unveiled a souped-up high-horsepower model, the 200 Pro FourStroke, at the Miami show. Built on the same 6-cylinder Verado platform as the 250 and 300 Pro FourStroke models, the 200 Pro FourStroke will excel on pontoons, saltwater bay and flats boats, and freshwater fishing boats.
Yamaha last year came out with a new lighter and more efficient F115 to replace its predecessor, which was introduced in 1999, and a 175-hp outboard has been added to the lineup, bridging the gap between its 150- and 200-hp models. The new F115 weighs 24 pounds less than its predecessor. Yamaha built it lighter while increasing acceleration and power through increased displacement. The F115 displaces 1.8 liters, compared with the original’s 1.7 liters, and has an increased bore and stroke.
Another new product is the F115’s custom propeller — the Talon — which works with Yamaha’s Shift Dampener System to smooth gear transitions. And a new alternator delivers more power: 35 amps at wide-open throttle, compared with 24 amps for the previous F115, and 28 amps at 1,000 rpm.
Tohatsu has made a deal with Honda that enables it to offer its own brand of 4-strokes from 60 to 250 hp. Honda will build eight models — 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225 and 250 hp — and Tohatsu will stamp them with its name and logo. Tohatsu will continue to offer its TLDI 2-strokes from 40 to 115 hp and 4-strokes from 2.5 to 30 hp. Tohatsu manufactures those engines.
Seven Marine’s 557-hp outboard debuted in 2011. The manufacturer introduced two new versions — the 557CR and 557GT — at the Miami show. Seven Marine designed the 557CR for yacht-caliber and sportfish outboard boats. This model uses dual-prop counter-rotating technology. The 557GT is designed for speed — 100-plus mph on center console and performance boats, according to the Germantown, Wis., manufacturer. It features a surface drive unit.
Higher emissions mandates have prompted manufacturers to produce cleaner engines that comply with Tier III EPA standards. John Deere has new Tier III engines — the PowerTech 4.5L and 6.8L. The latter, the 6-cylinder 6068T, is built with a high-pressure common-rail fuel system and low-temperature aftercoolers, according to the company. The engine is rated at 158 to 201 hp.
The 4.5L engine (the 4045T) is rated at 107 to 135 hp. The company says the 4-cylinder engine was designed with fewer external connections, which “means fewer hoses and fittings that could leak or break.” Both engines were designed for trawlers, launches, workboats and patrol craft, the company says.
Volvo Penta last year presented for the first time in the United States an upgraded D11 inline 6-cylinder diesel to power the IPS system. Horsepower has jumped from 670 to 700 and 725. The company engineered a 625-hp version, too. An improved turbo and air filter generates the additional horses, a new air filter cap reduces engine noise by two decibels, and an upgraded cylinder head improves cooling.
Two new drive units — the IPS800 and IPS950 — are teamed with the new engines to create a more powerful and responsive system, according to Volvo Penta. The gear ratios deliver a broader speed range — 20 to 40 knots.
Cummins last September introduced an inboard joystick docking system — Cummins Inboard Joystick — which works with a “new class of DC thrusters with extended run-time capability,” according to the company. The system is designed to work specifically with traditional inboards and transmissions. The Cummins Inboard Joystick can work with the QSB6.7 (250 to 550 hp), QSC8.3 (500 to 600 hp) QSL9 (285 to 405 hp) and QSM11 (300 to 715 hp).
The new Volvo Penta V8-430 joins the two engines introduced in 2012: the V8-380 and V8-225. The V8-430 is built with the same 6-liter block as the V8-380, but Volvo Penta improved air intake to increase power output.
Based on Volvo Penta’s V8-380 engine block, the V8-350 was introduced this year. It is more than 200 pounds lighter than any other engine in its horsepower class, giving it an excellent power-to-weight ratio, Volvo Penta says.
In the alternative-energy category, the EP-1000 electric motor from Elco Motor Yachts becomes the company’s most powerful electric motor to date, generating power comparable to a 100-hp diesel. It takes two to three hours to charge, and operating time ranges from two to three hours, cruising on batteries only. With a genset, you have continuous cruising power.
The engine’s first job will be to power a 1941 Elco cruiser.
This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue.