BRP exits outboard motor business

Canadian company BRP stunned the recreational boating industry with their announcement it will immediately stop making Evinrude outboards.

“Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately. This business segment had already been facing some challenges and the impact from the current context has forced our hand,” said José Boisjoli, president and CEO of BRP. “We will concentrate our efforts on new and innovative technologies and on the development of our boat companies, where we continue to see a lot of potential to transform the on-water experience for consumers,” he added.

Evinrude developed the first commercially viable outboard engine in 1909, and celebrated 110 years of innovation in 2019.

Evinrude’s engine line-up ranged from 3.5 to 300 HP.

Following the company’s decision to discontinue E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines, they signed an agreement with Mercury Marine to support boat packages and continue to supply outboard engines to BRP’s boat brands.

Boating Industry spoke to Tracy Crocker, president and CEO of BRP Marine, at the Miami International Boat Show in February, and he seemed bullish and upbeat about the future of outboards in general, and Evinrude specifically.

“There has probably been more innovation in the past four years than there was formerly in the previous 14,” Crocker stated. “As we allocate our capital, we’re looking at the best ROC we can get obviously, and this segment is very attractive. And by the way, we kind of feel like we’re just getting started.

“We are the only company that has direct injection technology across our entire line. We have a digital technology across our entire line. And we feel we are also doing a better job of integrating the motor into the entire boat.”

The decisions will impact 650 employees globally.

The company said in this process they plan to expand their role in pontoon and aluminum fishing markets.

It also will consolidate Alumacraft operations from two locations to one in St. Peter, Minn. The Arkadelphia, Ark., plant will be closed.

BRP also makes Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Sea-Doo water craft and Alumacraft, Manitou, Quintrex, Stacer and Savage boats along with the Rotax marine propulsion system.

Here is the entire press release from BRP:

BRP announced it has re-oriented its marine business by focusing on the growth of its boat brands with new technology and innovative marine products. We will discontinue production of Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines. Our Sturtevant, WI, facility, will be repurposed for new projects to pursue our plan to provide consumers with an unparalleled experience on the water.

We remain committed to our Buy, Build, Transform Marine strategy which has been underway since 2018 with the acquisition of Alumacraft and Manitou boat companies in the U.S., followed by the acquisition of Australian boat manufacturer Telwater in 2019.

“Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately. This business segment had already been facing some challenges and the impact from the current context has forced our hand,” said José Boisjoli, President and CEO of BRP. “We will concentrate our efforts on new and innovative technologies and on the development of our boat companies, where we continue to see a lot of potential to transform the on-water experience for consumers,” he added.

Following our decision to discontinue E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines, we have signed an agreement with market leader Mercury Marine to support boat packages and continue to supply outboard engines to our boat brands.

We will continue to supply customers and our dealer network service parts and will honor our manufacturer limited warranties, plus offer select programs to manage inventory. These decisions will impact 650 employees globally.

With this announcement, BRP will be positioned to expand its presence in the pontoon and aluminum fishing markets through technologically advanced solutions. We will leverage our track record of ingenuity through our R&D resources to enhance the boating experience with unique new marine products, such as the next generation of engine technology with Project Ghost and the next generation of pontoons with Project M, code names for new products we expect to transform the industry.

Lastly, we will consolidate Alumacraft operations from two sites to one. All Alumacraft operations will be transferred to St Peter, MN and our site in Arkadelphia, AR will be permanently closed. In addition, we want to upgrade the boat production facilities to reorganize manufacturing sites and apply the modularity model used elsewhere. This move is designed to enhance productivity and efficiency and to allow us to respond with even more agility to demand.

About BRP

We are a global leader in the world of powersports vehicles, propulsion systems and boats, built on over 75 years of ingenuity and intensive consumer focus. Our portfolio of industry-leading and distinctive products includes Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft, Can-Am on- and off-road vehicles, Alumacraft, Manitou, Quintrex, Stacer and Savage boats, Evinrude and Rotax marine propulsion systems as well as Rotax engines for karts, motorcycles and recreational aircraft. We complete our lines of products with a dedicated parts, accessories and apparel business to fully enhance the riding experience. With annual sales of CA$6.1 billion from over 120 countries, our global workforce is made up of approximately 12,600 driven, resourceful people.

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  1. Evinrude’s refusal to accept that 4 stroke technology had superior performance in the marketplace is what doomed the company.

    How could their executives been so blind?

    What a sad end to a great American success story.

    1. Absolutely right. I have a 1989 Ranger 375V with a 1989 Evinrude 150 hp outboard and will not re-power or replace any of it. It looks as it did the day I bought it. I wish Evinrude hadn’t resisted 4-stroke tech so long either. A sad demise for an old, honored name.

    2. Technically, Evinrude did sell four-strokes; since 2011, all Evinrude outboards under 15 HP were re-badged Tohatsu four-strokes. (This was not unique to Evinrude; you could also get the same Tohatsu engine, painted black, from Mercury). Similarly, all Johnson four-strokes in the early 2000s were re-badged Suzukis. OMC actually developed its own four-stroke, the LEAP 4 (Low Emission Advanced Propulsion 4-Stroke), in the mid-1990s. This was a very solid 9.9 HP that was well-regarded, and there are a good number of them still in use today.

      After the OMC bankruptcy, Bombardier/BRP made a conscious decision to focus on the direct-injected two-stroke E-TEC technology, rather than developing a four-stroke outboard of its own (or scaling up the LEAP 4). Their reasoning was the brand was too small to justify supporting two different technologies — so rather than trying to follow the herd, why not focus on the unique and innovative E-TEC technology?

      The wisdom of this decision can certainly be debated, but the fact is that E-TEC outboards were able to consistently beat four-strokes in terms of emissions and fuel efficiency, i.e. the main areas where four-strokes supposedly have an advantage.

      Unfortunately, as a powersports company, BRP just didn’t “get” the boating market. In the minds of the leadership in Quebec, BRP was Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo, and Can-Am; Evinrude was a distant afterthought, if it ever crossed their mind at all. This meant that BRP could not figure out how to successfully market the unique selling points of the E-TEC outboards.

      In my opinion, though, what really killed Evinrude more than anything else was the botched launch of the 3.4L E-TEC G2 in 2014. At the time of launch, the engine simply wasn’t ready for prime time in terms of quality and reliability. It took years to solve these problems — but as they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. The early issues with the 3.4L E-TEC G2 (and there were many!) soured many dealers and owners on the brand, to the point where the name “G2” became synonymous with “boondoggle” in the eyes of some dealers. This damaged the brand’s reputation, and hurt the 2.7L and 1.9L E-TEC G2 models that came out in 2016 and 2019 (which, in my opinion, were actually some of the best engines Evinrude ever made).

      Evinrude made a valiant effort in the last year and a half to improve quality and reliability, and to my understanding, it was starting to bear fruit. Unfortunately, the reputational damage caused by the 3.4L E-TEC G2 launch proved impossible to overcome, and BRP’s “powersports” mindset didn’t help matters.

      I don’t have any proof of this, but it’s my belief that BRP created the Marine Group (Evinrude, Alumacraft, Manitou, Quintrex) with the goal of putting together a “package” that they could sell to someone with more experience in the marine business. If this would have happened, there’s a chance that the brand might have survived, and even thrived, under new leadership. However, in the economic environment created by COVID-19, the odds of a finding a buyer became vanishingly small, and Valcourt decided to pull the plug.

      It’s incredibly sad, both because Evinrude is a historic and iconic brand, and because of the many dedicated and talented people who worked there.

      1. had a johnson 90 from 1994 a 2008 15hp kicker from johnson ,both replaced due to environmental issues. and in 2013 repowered my boat with a 90 hp E-TEC . only to find out i may have to do it again. i guess i will eventually move to foreign brand to find happiness . Glad i did not have a boat with tripple 300 hp engines. Now again i will need to sell at a steel ,due to reputation and current situation. BRP should sell the brand to an American co. with a solitary purpose and passion,unless they are taking a deep breather to re position ,rethink the brand ,over 100 years to be taken out like the trash! SELL THE BRAND .

    3. technology of the e-teck line has outperformed 4 stroke in my opinion. I’ve had both and prefer the new 2 stroke. more power , less fuel, lighter, clean emission.

      1. I agree! Sad. I’ve been a loyal evinrude die hard since 1976. Maybe someone will acquire the brand and technology. I hope.

    4. People I talk with etec outboard on pontoon and bass boats seem to really like them. What I don’t understand their parent company probably makes the best 4 stroke jet ski with Rotex engines why then couldnt they come out with 4 strokes

    5. The public couldn’t accept 2 stroke ,it wax a difficult sell even though it was a completely different engine , it never burned or mixed the oil and gas it was an engineering marvel but with the failure of OMC and the original Ficht design it left a lot of people with a bad taste ,really to bad it was a great design

  2. Fifty years ago I went to work at an Evinrude dealership where I learned to love and support the brand. I hate to see it go, but that’s what happens when a company ignores the market, and from what I heard, ignores everyone within the company who implored management to consider four stroke technology. Twenty years ago I wrote a magazine article wherein I predicted that within 20 years four strokes would rule the outboard market. I was wrong. It only took 10 years.

  3. I have always known that the Evinrude outboard motor has always been the finest on the market, bar none. I hope that they will make parts to repair them, or let other companies make them… For to completely stop this product would be a real crime.

  4. You are off base regards 4-strokes.
    The direct injection 2-stroke is a clearly superior approach for an outboard.
    More torque, more fuel efficient, less maintenance.
    Only Evinrude went the extra mile to make it work.
    It’s a shame too many people can only follow the crowd.

    1. I fully agree with that. It’s better than a four-stroke by far and no problems. It starts at the click of the key.

  5. My dad started his Evinrude dealership in 1949. I grew up around these motors as a kid watching dad rig and repair these great motors. At the time it was not allowed to be a multi line dealer of other brands and we always stayed loyal. I started my own service only dealership and soon after the bankruptcy deal came up with Evinrude and the dealers all struggled getting parts to support their products. BRP then purchased Evinrude and there was hope again by me and other full line dealerships. I guess to sum it up really how I feel at the moment is that Evinrude Outboards has screwed their dealer network for the final time!!!

  6. It figures they take a hundred year old company and drive it into the ground . Same as there aircraft metro cars oh yea don’t forget about the government turnstile. Bail outs

    1. Yes your right. That’s exactly what they did too. They completely abandoned 4 stroke technology also which to me was a big mistake, completely shutting down Johnson. It is a great engine, the E tech, but poor marketing on the part of BRP helped to permanently sink the brand. Lack of a 350 or 400 also

  7. From what I could read in the press, Evinrude was always a superior motor to everyl other 4 stroke in the market. I do not think what brought them down was their fixation on 2 stroke but more like the reliability issues in their electronic engine control unit. In fact, after I saw what they achieved, I was very surprised why the rest of the engine world, including the car industry did not adopt their 2 stroke model. Technologically, they were always superior to a 4 stroke in every way, as test after test proves.

    Unfortunately, it the reliability issues and “marketing” which brought them down.

    Very sad….

  8. I totally disagree with the 4-strokes being superior! I just purchased a 2020 Etec 60 HO for my heavy glass 17′ walleye rig. Planes instantly runs awesome and nothing on the water is even in the same league. I’m loyal to Etec and it’s sad corporate greed shut them down!!

  9. If Evinrude outboard motors are so superiour like people are saying, why Evinrude collapsed then? If e-tec outnumbers all it’s competetors, why should it be the problem that they didn’t develop their own 4 stroke techonology?
    I have owned Evinrude and Johnson motors. They are not bad, but they don’t match with Yamaha, Honda or Suzuki, that’s for sure.
    Now, the only tragedy on this, is that people lost their jobs. Americans, canadians and others who have worked hard, believing they were part of something great and immortal.

  10. I was considering purchasing an E-Tec 250 on a Manitou tritoon. It was to be a retirement boat for the wife and me. The dealer assures me he and Evinrude will be there for warranty and repairs. But, should I take a chance? Would you take a chance? The appeal of not having oil changes is strong but, in your opinion, is Evinrude worth the risk?

    1. I know this is late but, I hope you went with the Evinrude. I spoke with my local Evinrude certified shop and they said they will continue to service Evinrude and that the supply chain for parts will not change. The only change is who they get them from. And since they also service Mercury it is no problem. So far I love my ETEC 135HO. It is essentially a detuned 150. It is set to generate 10% more HP than what it says on the hood, so I essentially get a 150 for the price of a 135. If you did go with the ETEC I hope you enjoyed the heck out of it.

  11. Why didn’t they redesign the V8 block and move into the 400HP+ market. This market has exploded and had a weight advantage over the 4 strokes. Stand next to a big yamaha it’s scary over 400 pounds difference hanging on the transom per motor. Missed opportunity!!

  12. I have a 2004 Evinrude Ficht 200 which only now began cutting out on me at sea. For 4 1/2 years its been very reliable for me. I’m frankly stunned at the responses I’m getting here in Miami when I call around for service. I’m hearing everything from “we no longer work on Evinrude because Evinrude went out of business and parts are hard to find” to “the Ficht is a German engine and its too complicated to work on”. I’ve just received advice to get rid of my engine and buy and older 1998 engine with carbs as they’re much simpler to diagnose which I cant imagine doing. Anyway, does anyone on this thread have any advice that may be different to what I’ve been hearing and that may shed some amount of positive light on how to keep my engine going?

    1. Its very sad. Ive been using Evinrude since I was 8 years old. They made great motors only to fold up very quickly fo to a virus. Seems they should sell and keep the technology moving foward.

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