CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Yamaha Motor Corp. announced Thursday night that it will introduce four new models of 4-stroke outboards from 115 to 250 hp in 2015 — all engineered to meet the needs of the freshwater market.
“What made us strong in salt water is feature-rich product,” Yamaha Marine Group president Ben Speciale told me after the company’s 45-minute presentation of new product to the press at the Chattanoogan Hotel.
“So we see that trend moving into fresh water at a more rapid pace. We are focusing more on providing that feature-rich product to that freshwater segment. We’re going after that freshwater market in a stronger way.”
Yamaha has even defined the Midwest as a priority for sales and service, Speciale added.
The company introduced four new models in its Super High Output lineup: the V MAX SHO 115 and V MAX SHO 175 and the 150X and 250X VMAX SHO. The latter two are 25-inch shaft versions of the current V MAX SHO engines of the same horsepower.
The new models, which will begin to hit the market in April, deliver performance characteristics that are most important to freshwater boaters, namely top-end speed, Yamaha said. “The performance characteristics on a lighter boat are different than on a heavier one,” Speciale said. “One is not better or worse; they are just different.”
Yamaha also said it will bring to the market two improved and modernized versions of the F150 and F8 outboards. The improvements to the 150, which is Yamaha’s best-selling outboard, include clutch improvements for smoother shifting and the addition of the variable trolling feature, which lets the driver increase revolutions per minute in 500-rpm increments.\
On the F8, improvements include a more ergonomic shift and rear resting pads. Both engines have been given a more modernized exterior appearance.
In other news, the company now will offer its Helm Master joystick helm control system for quad applications for boats 40 feet and bigger. The engine maker had a 42-foot Hydra-Sports with quad F350s in the water ready for testing. The Helm Master is also now available with twin applications of the F200 four-cylinder outboard.
Yamaha also is expanding its fleet of propellers. Its Reliance SDS props are now available in 13- and 14-inch pitch sizes, and the company is offering its Talon SS SDS propellers for mid-range outboards.
To showcase the product, Yamaha mounted its engines on 14 boats ranging from about 10 feet to 42 feet. About 25 journalists are attending the two-day event. The boats are available for testing today at Yamaha’s test center in Bridgeport, Ala.
More than 30 Yamaha representatives are in Chattanooga, ready to answer questions, provide information and offer their time for interviews. The Yamaha personnel include two executives (Speciale and vice president Dean Burnett) and specialists in marketing, operations, product planning and applications.
Speciale in his presentation stressed the major changes in the market since the recession, saying boats are now equipped with more electronics, sophisticated systems, plush amenities and customization. He cited decked-out boats with twin PowerPole shallow-water anchors, blow-dried deck compartments, multicolor LED lights and custom trim-angle settings on wakeboard boats.
“The person buying a freshwater boat is buying up; he is not barely buying a boat,” Speciale said. “When he is ready to buy a boat, he is buying a full-featured boat.”
Vice president Dean Burnett ran through a presentation packed with details about each engine, highlighting their strengths. For example, he said the new MAX SHO 115 is ideal for midsize bass boats and pontoons. It is lightweight at 377 pounds, has Variable Trolling Speed and greater acceleration and top speed. Yamaha tests have shown that the new V MAX SHO 115 is 2.7 mph faster than the current F115 and nearly 4 mph faster than the previous version of the F115.
“Yamaha’s tactic has always been to go high-tech,” Burnett said in his presentation. “We want to give people reasons to move into a product — reasons to move ‘up’ into a product. It is easy to take valves out of engines. It is easy to take technology out of engines. It is easy to what we call ‘dummy’ them down. It is much tougher to build a small compact package like this that gives you true performance through technology.”
It has been a busy week for Yamaha. The company earlier this week invited boat manufacturers, dealers and Yamaha employees to experience the engines. The company also held a service and sales meeting.