NEW YORK — For the first time ever, Mercury Marine held a media event focused on presenting its engines and boat-control technologies to journalists outside of the marine industry.
Non-boating media gathered on Monday at MarineMax at Chelsea Piers for test drives of boats equipped with technology like joystick piloting, virtual anchoring and auto trim control.
Several novice boaters, from media such as Fortune, Forbes and NPR, seemed amazed by how easy the boats were to navigate, anchor and operate.
“Boating used to be so complicated,” said David Foulkes, chief technology officer and vice president of product development. “No matter how much you explain how quiet and easy it’s become, and that you don’t have to do a lot, you can’t really get that unless you experience it.”
The lineup of boats included a Boston Whaler, a Cigarette, a Harris, a Scout, and a Sea Ray.
“One of the unique things about this event is that we have marine trade publications as well as publications like Popular Mechanics,” said Mercury Marine president John Pfeifer. “We’re trying to broaden the range of people to which we showcase our newest technology.”
Two visitors from Popular Mechanics were impressed by the fact they could have a conversation while four 350-hp Verado outboards pushed a Cigarette performance boat at full throttle. “This is something they didn’t expect,” Pfeifer said. “They wanted to know, how do you make it sound so good?”
Pfeifer tests out Mercury’s new products with his teenager children to make sure they seem intuitive to them, and the company works hard to ensure each engine incarnation makes a noise that is pleasing to the human ear.
The Brunswick-owned company is undergoing another phase of expansion now, having just broken ground on a machining upgrade that will add 30,000 square feet to the plant.
Every facet of the facility has been upgraded, and this should get it to the point that it can keep up with demand for larger and stronger engines. The company will also be investing in research and development, Pfeifer says. Consumers are shifting to wanting more power, so Mercury will be looking to fill that need as well.
On Monday Mia Fermindoza from NowThis Media live streamed footage of Sally Turner from a Boston Whaler. Turner was delighted with the boat’s capabilities and with her proximity to Lady Liberty.
“We’re trying different events to do a better job of giving people access to exploring new intuitive controls,” Pfeifer said. “We’re trying to do a better job on the marketing front because if you don’t experience it, you don’t understand.”
Watch the video, which had 390 comments this morning.
Read more about the Mercury event in the September issue of Soundings Trade Only.