Volvo Penta of the Americas president Ron Huibers wanted to meet with me at FLIBS to talk about gasoline sterndrives. Of course, I agreed, and we got together at the outdoor Volvo Penta display at the Bahia Mar.
During our 25-minute sit-down meeting Huibers reaffirmed Volvo Penta’s commitment to using General Motors engine blocks and announced the introduction of the company’s next generation of gasoline sterndrive engines.
“We know that for our customers and dealers, they are going to get great quality, competitive cost and a technology bump that will give them great reason to buy a Volvo Penta sterndrive,” Huibers says. “We have been with GM in the gas business for 15-plus years, and we’ve had great success.”
Mercury said earlier this year that it will build its own in-house gas sterndrive engines and has since produced a MerCruiser 250-hp 4.5-liter engine. Mercury, which had previously used General Motors blocks, made the switch to produce engines more suited for marine use.
At the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando in mid-November, Volvo Penta debuted the first of a fleet of sterndrives — 200- and 240-hp V6s with a 4.3-liter displacement — with the fifth generation of GM motors. Volvo Penta will roll out additional Gen V GM engines in 2015 and will have a full family of the next-generation gas engines by 2016.
Huibers highlighted the reasons for sticking with GM for its new engine platform, including the addition of common rail fuel injection; the depth of GM engineering knowledge and expertise; competitive cost and reliability; the continued use of Variable Valve Timing; and freshwater cooling as a standard component in all Gen V engines.
The new engines are built with a technology already used on Volvo Penta diesel engines — common rail fuel injection.
“With common rail injection you get higher compression ratios, so you get better efficiency, increased torque and wide-band O2 sensors to accommodate variations in fuel quality,” Huibers says. “With GM, we have been riding a horse that’s a real thoroughbred. Now comes along this Gen V engine, and together we’ve just taken it to a whole new level.”
The family of Gen V engines, which are aluminum, also will utilize Variable Valve Timing and FWC and share the same replacement parts. The recently introduced V8-430 and V8-380 — Gen IV engines — are already equipped with VVT, which alters valve timing for immediate on-demand combustion through faster and more efficient use of air and fuel.
“We are the diesel experts,” Huibers says. “Where are the gasoline [engine] experts in the world? They are right here in the U.S. When you operate these engines you are proud of that American muscle. They are incredible. The technology leaps of Gen V are huge.”
Huibers says OEMs and dealers are “excited to bring this new technology to market. Our customers are extremely satisfied with the product range that we offer, as recently shown with our 11th consecutive CSI award, and we have no doubt these new engines will continue to exceed their expectations.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue.