In a stunning and swift fashion, Bombardier Recreational Products, the Canadian owner of Evinrude Outboard Motors, announced on May 27 that it would immediately discontinue the manufacturing of all Evinrude outboard motors. Bombardier said COVID-19 was too much to overcome the builder’s challenges.
It marks the end of an era. The announcement to discontinue manufacturing was so shocking that one of Wisconsin’s newspapers said it was akin to Ford announcing it would no longer build automobiles.
Evinrude started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1907 and was still headquartered in the state. Ole Evinrude invented the removable outboard motor and with his wife Bess made the company one of the first commercially successful mass-produced outboard engine manufacturers. Ole sold the business in 1914. Eventually, Evinrude with Johnson outboards became part of Outboard Marine Corporation, which declared bankruptcy in 2000. Bombardier picked up the outboard business from OMC in a 2001 firesale.
The announcement leaves Evinrude’s global workforce of 650, most of them in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, out of work. Bombardier says it will continue to offer support to Evinrude owners.
Unlike its competitors Yamaha, Mercury and Suzuki, Evinrude never made the switch to four-stroke engines. When environmental regulations appeared to make two-stroke engines an endangered species, Evinrude responded with its E-TEC engines. They were lighter than their four-stroked competitors. Despite that, four-stroke outboards continued to gain market share and have dominated the industry for the past two decades.
A more recent Evinrude development, the E-TEC G2 was supposed to give the manufacturer continued longevity, but it was not enough.