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Mercury's new 4-strokes: ALL AMERICAN
|Author||Topic: Mercury's new 4-strokes: ALL AMERICAN|
posted 05-17-2002 09:07 PM ET (US)
In a 1st-quarter financial report to investment bankers, Brunswick C.E.O. George Buckley described the new outboard engines being developed by Mercury as "ALL MERCURY, ALL AMERICAN."
Buckley announced that Mercury was in the fourth year of development of new 135-225 HP outboard engines using 4-stroke power heads. These engine models will be in field tests this fall and in production in 2003, according to Buckley.
The Brunswick CEO stressed that these engines are being developed entirely by Mercury and will feature significant advantages over the competition, including lower weight. Buckley said they will weigh "sixty pounds less than Japanese engines." He also cited the engines as being able to produce more horsepower and torque than their competitors.
The new Mercury 4-stroke engines will also feature new transom mount technology which will reduce the transmission of vibration to the boat by 75-percent.
Buckley characterized the current marketplace as "confused" by the 2-stroke -vs- 4-stroke choice. The 4-stroke engines, he said, offered better emissions and fuel economy but suffered from higher weight and less performance than 2-strokes of the same horsepower. The new ALL-AMERICAN Mercury engines would overcome these problems, with better weight and better performance.
The technologies contained "in the middle" of these engines will be causing great concern to Mercury's competitors, warned Buckley.
In addition, the new engines will be able to take advantage of Mercury's superior technologies of advanced engine controls and "fly-by-wire" electronic remote control of throttle and shifting.
One can only conclude that the engines to which the Brunswick CEO refers must be similar in appearance to the those shown at the Miami Boat Show in February. See http://continuouswave.com/whaler/cetacea/cetaceaPage54.html for pictures.
When questioned about alliances with Yamaha and Tohatsu, Buckley referred to the long-standing relationship between Mercury and these firms, which went back over 20 years and included significant ownership stakes in joint ventures or other manufacturing partnerships with the Japanese companies.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-17-2002 11:09 PM ET (US)
Talk is cheap.
Buckley sounds like Dean Kamen touting his "Ginger" (a.k.a. the Segway Human Transporter).
I'll believe it when I see it.
posted 05-17-2002 11:29 PM ET (US)
They cannot build enough four stroke 115s now. My issue with Mercury is not one of design. Four stroke and two stroke technology has been around for over a 100 years. Less weight, more power, etc. That is all very nice. The issue with me is one of finished quality. It has been well established for well over a century that mass production techniques require product sampling to assure the fit and function of all parts. Mercury practices random sampling tests of their finished engine units. Yamaha tests every single one. The difference is clear to anyone who has had extensive problems with brand new Mercury units, while hearing how their Yamaha counterparts, using similar designs and parts, are enjoying theirs.
If my new 170 Whaler was not limited by BW to Mercury only, there is no way that I would not have ordered a Yamaha, regardless of the higher price. Great boat, questionable engine. I just hope that my new engine is one of the fourth or fifth ones that they actually do sample.
posted 05-18-2002 09:33 AM ET (US)
It is quite coincidental that Tom mentions Dean Kamen of the Segway gizmo because it was just yesterday that I met Dean and saw him demonstrate the device!
While the Segway appears to be a marvel of engineering and construction, I was more impressed with Dean's ability to generate free promotion of his invention. I did not get a chance to ride the thing, myself, but one of our reporters did and was able to perform basic movements almost intuitively.
Back to outboards:
Buckley stated they had six models under development and would have them in production in 2003. I would think he would not go out on a limb and tell Wall Street this stuff if he did not think it was a sure bet.
I do find it curious that you can get much better information about these engines from listening to the CEO talk to Solomom/Smith-Barney than you can from reading a boating magazine.
Listen to Buckley's comments first-hand at: http://www.corporate-ir.net/ireye/ir_site.zhtml?ticker=BC&script=1010&item_id=619503 .
You'll need Windows Media Player. The discussion about engines occurs about an hour into the recording.
posted 05-18-2002 09:57 AM ET (US)
This is the same dude that promised an all Merc, all new (breakthrough) technology big 4 stroke just a feew months ago.
Turns out that the all Merc part is the decals on the Yammy V6.
Red sky at night. . .
posted 05-18-2002 10:18 AM ET (US)
The reason that "better information" is obtained from corporate reports to firms such as Solomon/Smith-Barney, is that this information will sometimes be represented to investment firm clients as a "hot tip" or "new insight." This makes sense, as the investor makes money by buying low and selling high.
There is nothing "curious" about it. There are more investors than boaters, and, when disseminating information, the CEO of Brunswick is being wise in following the suit of any other major corporation's spokesman: "Leaking" the information to the investment firms first, and then letting those firms spread the word to potential investors.
Considering the readership of a boating publication (and the financial position of those readers) it makes far more sense to distribute the information to the investment firm: There are more people with more money to invest if one distributes his information to a broader sector.
Take, for example, the corporation which pioneered the Orbital injection system (low-pressure direct injection), a variant of which is used in the Optimax. The boating public was made aware of this technology about ten or so YEARS after it was pioneered (and touted in stock reports). The boating public was also the one sector to embrace that technology widely, as it was touted as "cutting edge" and "breakthrough." Then the boating public experienced multiple afflictions as a result of this marketing hype, not the least of which is "Optimax Malaise." Take a look at that stock's performance (compared to others similarly situated) over the past five years.
Information like this from any corporation gives me pause. Do not mistake my statements as an attack on Mercury, Optimax, Brunswick, America, (or lhg in his Chevy V-8 powered Honda SUV!). Mine are words of caution.
I have fallen into this trap as an investor before, and it cost me months to years of patient (and painful) waiting to recover my money. However, as a boater, the direct investment (in the end product of this highly-regarded technological breakthrough) can be lost totally (without any hope for recovery) if the engine blows when entering a rough inlet with friends and family aboard.
That is when the corporate CEO needs to be standing at his podium pontificating about the virtues of the new engines his corporation is developing and marketing.
I'll let Mr. Buckley take his loved ones and business colleagues out fishing for a few years in the ocean on a boat powered by these engines, then, if they survive the test of time, I'll think about one.
In the mean time, I'll stick with the "tried and true" outboards and keep my money in the bank.
posted 05-18-2002 10:37 AM ET (US)
I agree in this case with Tom Clark and James who make very good points.
Of course I have always thought Buckley had the special ability to wow market analysis! Though his greatest ability how after it is found he really just inserted his foot in to his mouth the canny way he has been know to sort of distance himself after his statements back fire. Explaining them away with excuses about this that or the other which he didn't have control over. Just have to wait and see I guess.
It also appears that even Bombardier with testing each engine, getting away from the OMC like Mercury random production run selection of testing a few, are having some minor problems with the engines when received and installed by dealers that have to be corrected by the dealer prior to selling them. Probably just growing pains. They also can't produce enough of any model which would be expected in the first full year of start up from scratch, consequently it is easy to understand why they didn't embark on stronger Winter/Spring promotions which would have put them further behind the 8 ball as dealers have now figured out that bemoaned that they didn't offer extended warranties like the competition. Now these dealers are yelling for just product to sell. TomZ
posted 05-18-2002 11:59 AM ET (US)
Bombardier tests every Evinrude FICHT engine. They have made significant improvements in quality control and in ensuring all parts meet stringent specs. The 2002 FICHT I repowered my Montauk with is a first rate motor. Not a 4 stroke on the water than can keep up with me (in the same HP class, of course). Obviously, there are benefits with the 4 stroke technology, but I'm glad Bombardier seems to have worked the bugs out of the FICHT system. I think there is still a lot to offer in the clean-burning 2 stroke market. Just my opinion...
posted 05-18-2002 06:29 PM ET (US)
I have mentioned in a previous thread that I thought it was "extremly curious" that Yamaha would give 4000 of it's latest, hot product, the 200/225 4-strokes, to Mercury for a few months, even though the two companies have been trading products for many years now. In spite of being "competitors" out in the open, behind the scenes they seem to be less, a relationship which has conveniently locked up 75-80% of the total outboard engine market for the two of them, including most of the 4-stroke market also.
And Yamaha has another competitor in it's backyard, lone wolf Honda (no partnerships), also making a pretty good new 225 4-stroke, maybe even better than Yamaha's. My guess is that anyway possible, Yamaha/Japan wants to bury bigger brother Honda in 225 sales, and Mercury can certainly help them do that. An extra 4000 engines quickly hitting the US market, on big name boats like Boston Whaler & the Bass circuits (which Mercury basically controls), will give them even more publicity and parts business for years to come.
But there could be something else (note-only my hunch). Most business deals, especially when you're giving the "competition" your newest product, is a two way street. I'm guessing that whatever it is that Mercury is developing, Yamaha wants into. They are also bare in the 130-175HP 4 stroke market, and maybe Mercruy will be helping them fill their void also. Time will tell, and soon. There is no doubt that these new engines will soon appear. The only question is will they be great, like the EFI 2 strokes, or problem-laden, like the OMC produced Fichts.
Looks like the Mercury-Yamaha relationship is continuing, and it's going to be tough competition for the others. Maybe they're afraid of the new Bombardier-Suzuki relationship.
The other question begging for an answer, with Mercury/Yamaha developing all of these new across the board four strokes, what is the future of the Opti's and HPDI's? It would seem as soon as they can get a 4-stroke outboard to outperform a 2-stroke DFI, which Mercury is now claiming, the DFI's will disappear.
posted 05-19-2002 05:02 AM ET (US)
yamaha is going to make the mercury 4 strokes, the omc fichts now are great and the honda 225 is a fat slow pig. Done deal!
posted 05-19-2002 02:02 PM ET (US)
Done deal? Hardly at all. Read on:
TRAILER BOAT Magazine has an excellent test comparison between the HONDA and YAMAHA 225-HP engines.
Dynamometer tests showed exactly equal peak horsepower (224), but the HONDA had the edge in better horsepower at mid-range engine speeds.
A slight advantage in boat speed of a mile=per-hour or two was achived by the Yamaha engine, but this was attributed to slightly better lower unit design and smaller diameter prop efficiency.
I find it difficult to believe that poster thebone12 has better inside information than the CEO of the company that owns Mercury, so I will have to discount his assertion that Yamaha will make the new (2003 production) Mercury engines as badly misinformed.
It is already widely known and reported that Mercury is buying powerheads from Yamaha. It is also well known that Mercury and Tohatsu have exchanged engines and technologies. And Yamaha used mostly Mercury engineering in many of their early engines, including the joint venture MARINER engines.
posted 05-19-2002 02:11 PM ET (US)
Oh, as for the weight difference between Yamaha and Honda 225-HP engines:
When the two engines were measured in a ready-to-run condition on the transom (i.e., with engine oil, prop, gear oil, transom rigging, etc.) the advertised difference in weights shrank from 16 lbs. to 5 lbs.
The weights were:
The difference of 5 lbs. ( a variation of about three quarters of one percent) is hardly like to have much affect on performance.
So again, the comments of thebone12 have to be viewed as substantially ignorant of the true situation.
And by the way, Bombardier is dropping all reference to the term FICHT in their 2003 marketing of their low-emission 2-strokes.
posted 05-19-2002 03:57 PM ET (US)
True, but the system and technology are the same "FICHT". It is simply an effort to remove the stigma from the problems OMC had. If anyone can (and wants to) get it right, it's Bombardier. Not a bad move on their part.
posted 05-19-2002 05:43 PM ET (US)
A minor point, surely, but I would be VERY surprised if any Mercury is truly "all American." Even my Harley isn't 100%.
Japanese electronics are commonly installed items, even though they may be wrapped in OEM labeled bags. Japanese bearings are another commonly used item in so-called "American" products.
Look under the hood of the first one you see and you'll probably find NGK spark plugs.
So, we'll probably have to call these new Mercurys "mostly American."
posted 05-19-2002 06:12 PM ET (US)
I think some people, myself included, don't care for the extra weight of modern 4 strokes. I think there's still something to be said for a clean burning 2 stroke outboard. If Bombardier can give my current outboard (a 1994 Evinrude 150), in a more fuel efficient, more reliable, better performing package, that would be perfect for me.
One thing that does bother me about all these modern outboards is this "fly-by-wire" talk. There's something about "fly-by-wire" mixed with "saltwater" that doesn't seem right. I guess the days of taking a toolkit and a extra rubber fuel pump to get back, are going to be over pretty soon. Probbably will need my laptop more than a toolkit....
posted 05-20-2002 11:47 PM ET (US)
jim, i think someone was trying to give us the bone...
posted 05-23-2002 10:55 AM ET (US)
The most amazing comment coming out of this thread (Honda 225 fat pig... yeah right) was that Mercury will release a new type of transom mount. This spells potential trouble for someone... Us (older whalers) if it won't fit ours, or more possibly Them (as "them" future owners) if this ultimately ends up an orphan. Remember old Sea drives, whaler drives and other curiosities. Mercury, take a lesson from Sony, kings of the "dead ends". Stroll through their hall of dead formats and take good notes. If you hit it dead-nuts, you have a winner, if not... just a future curio. Big risk.
posted 05-23-2002 12:34 PM ET (US)
So Bombardier is dropping the Ficht name on their Evinrudes? I guess that will fix their lousy reputation.
posted 05-31-2002 05:59 PM ET (US)
[Removed two totally off topic messages from this thread. continuousWave prefers message threads with as little "noise" as possible, thank you.--jimh.]
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