Sterndrive, outboard, diesel, electric — you name it, we’ve seen it in the new product releases from engine companies over the past year.
Outboard manufacturers have been pushing out second-generation 4-strokes, several new sterndrives have hit the market, and diesels continue to improve, with better fuel efficiency, lower emissions and increased performance.
As the economy strengthens, manufacturers should continue rolling out new engines and systems. Three of the major outboard makers — Mercury, Suzuki and Evinrude — are planning on-water press events in June to showcase new engines.
Meanwhile, the integration of navigation, safety and communications electronics with propulsion systems has forged ahead, as top companies team up their technologies.
Mercury Marine this winter partnered with Simrad. Raymarine recently added to its arsenal the ECI-100 Universal Engine and Control Interface, which allows its products to communicate with propulsion systems from different manufacturers. Garmin, Mastervolt and Scout Boats earlier this year announced a three-way partnership that brings Mastervolt-controlled electrical switches into the integrated helm network. Monitoring the status of all lighting, bilge pumps and other electrical systems can be shown and controlled via touch-screen displays.
Volvo Penta and Garmin have been working together for about two years. The Garmin 8000 serves as the centerpiece of Volvo Penta’s Glass Cockpit system. Garmin has added a number of new functions to the latest 8000 (also available via software update for units in the field), including the display and control of circuits (lights, pumps, etc.) via a BEP CZone controller. Nuances also include the ability to use an iPad or iPhone to view and control the Glass Cockpit and FLIR fixed-mount thermal night vision cameras.
Suzuki came out with two new small outboards this year — the DF25A and DF30A, both built with a new in-line 3-cylinder block. The engines are equipped with a batteryless electronic fuel injection system for quicker starts, smoother operation and better acceleration, according to the company.
At the Miami International Boat Show earlier this year, Suzuki displayed its version of joystick steering for outboards. Suzuki Precision Control works with the DF300 and other high-horsepower models. Now four outboard manufacturers offer joystick operation — Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude and Suzuki.
Mercury has introduced a new high-performance outboard — the 200 Pro FourStroke. It builds the engine with the same 6-cylinder Verado found in the 250 and 300 Pro FourStroke models. The company says the 200 Pro FourStroke will excel on pontoons, saltwater bay and flats boats, and freshwater fishing boats.
Yamaha last year continued to update its 4-stroke offerings, debuting a lighter and more efficient F115 to replace the 115 that hit the water back in 1999. The company also added a 175-hp outboard to bridge the gap between its 150- and 200-hp models.
The new F115 weighs 24 pounds less than the previous model. 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, with increased bore and stroke. The new engine uses a custom propeller — the Talon — that operates with Yamaha’s Shift Dampener System to smooth out gear shifting. The alternator has more power, too — 35 amps at wide-open throttle.
Tohatsu has made a deal with Honda that enables it to offer its own brand of 4-strokes from 60 to 250 hp. Honda builds eight models — 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225 and 250 hp — and Tohatsu stamps 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 now has two new versions of its 557-hp outboard — the 557CR and 557GT. The 557CR is designed for yacht-caliber and sportfish outboard boats. This model uses dual-prop counter-rotating technology. With its surface drive, 557GT is designed for speed — 100-plus mph on center console and performance boats, according to the Germantown, Wisconsin, manufacturer.
Cummins last year introduced the Cummins Inboard Joystick docking system, which works with a “new class of DC thrusters with extended run-time capability,” according to the company. The system is designed for use with traditional inboards and transmissions. The 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) engines.
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 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 increased from 670 to 700 and 725. The company is building a 625-hp version, too. An improved turbo and air filter generates more horsepower, a new air filter cap reduces engine noise by 2 decibels, and an upgraded cylinder head improves cooling.
Two new drive units — the IPS800 and IPS950 — team up 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.
Gasoline sterndrives and electric power
Volvo Penta’s V8-350, which is based on the V8-380 engine block, was introduced this year. The engine maker says the 350 weighs in at 200 pounds less than any other engine in its horsepower class. Its relatively light weight gives the engine an excellent power-to-weight ratio, Volvo Penta says.
Last year, Volvo Penta introduced in the United States the V8-430, following on the heels of the V8-380 and V8-225 (introduced in 2012). 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.
Mercury last year made the decision to build its own sterndrive engine blocks instead of getting them from the automotive industry. The company says that will give it more engineering and manufacturing freedom to create innovative technology.
Mercury Racing, a division of Mercury Marine, recently introduced a 520-hp (at the crankshaft) sterndrive engine that it says “fits nicely in both value and performance” between the MerCruiser 8.2L MAG HO and the Mercury Racing 525 EFI.
Turning to alternative-energy, Elco Motor Yachts has come out with the EP-1000, 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 on batteries only. With a genset, you have continuous cruising power.
In other news, Elco reports that a new coupling connects its EP-600, EP-1200 and EP-2000 electric propulsion systems to Yanmar SD20 Saildrive systems with minimal modifications. “While there are electric propulsion systems on the market available with sail drives, they are often proprietary systems with replacement parts that are difficult to find at local repair shops,” Elco CEO Steve Lamando said in a statement when the product was introduced in May.
Stay tuned: more innovations in power are likely headed our way.
See related article:
July 2014 issue