Powering the Future

They didn’t have to ask me twice.
Shortly after the folks at Bombardier unveiled their new E-TEC line of Evinrude engines, a buddy of mine at Bombardier asked, “So, do you want to take a spin in a boat with an E-TEC engine?”
Hmmm. Let me think about that for a second. I was in Miami, surrounded by water with air temperatures in the 80s. Bombardier had new technology that it claims is going to change expectations for outboard engines forever, and I can try it out.
Plus, back home in Minnesota, temperatures were in the single digits, and each of our 10,000-plus lakes had a two-foot-thick ice cap that will be hiding the water until April.
I didn’t need the full second to noodle this concept. “Sure. Hook me up.”
A day later, I was sitting on an inflatable Zodiac powered by a 40-horse Evinrude E-TEC. Next to me was Dave Calamia, manager of product support for Bombardier’s outboard division.
You’ve probably heard about E-TEC, because it’s caused quite a buzz. Claims of a lightweight two stroke with lower emissions than a four stroke always raise eyebrows. Mix in the “no maintenance for three years” claim, low noise levels and sterling performance, and you’ve got something special.
“This is going to change boating as much as anything that’s ever come about,” Calamia claimed while we motored around the bay. We were a couple of feet from the rumbling two-stroke, but he was speaking in conversational tones as we stirred up a wake and scooted across the water. It definitely passed the low noise level test, and there was no sight of two-stroke smoke.
Still, Calamia’s claim was a big one, and only time will tell if the folks at Bombardier are blowing smoke while their engine isn’t. Their E-TEC was probably the biggest engine-related news at the Miami International Boat Show, but it wasn’t the only news.
Suzuki had its own press conference showing off its new 250 hp V6 four-stroke, a product that forced Bombardier to share one of the show awards. There was new product everywhere, from Honda to Yamaha, and from the biggest Mercury to smallest Nissan. And that’s just the outboards!
All of this left me with several thoughts. First, governmental emissions regulations are always a pain in the rear for those being regulated, but they sure have led to some fantastic innovations in the outboard marine market. The engine factories are definitely answering the call.
Second, the engine market is in the midst of a slugfest for marketshare — a topic covered by Liz Walz in her feature starting on page 32.
Finally, it’s a good time to be in the boat business, despite the economy.

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