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ContinuousWave: Whaler Performance
First Mercury Project X ad
|Author||Topic: First Mercury Project X ad|
posted 01-27-2004 08:09 PM ET (US)
The Feb issue of "Soundings Trade Only" arrived today, with a two page inside cover ad on Project X. This is the first I have seen so far, in spite of the Miami show so close in time.
It is a photo of a bunch of outboard boats at a dock, with "generic" outboards on the transom, and a big shark, fin only showing, swimming by in the water. Copy says:
"It's coming. The first entirely new marine power in over 50 years. Stronger...Faster...and quieter than anything else you've ever experienced before. Hold on. Tight."
posted 01-27-2004 08:50 PM ET (US)
Look at Merc's website.
posted 01-27-2004 08:57 PM ET (US)
I love America.
posted 01-27-2004 10:21 PM ET (US)
That ad makes you want to see the Miami Boat Show and buy it!
That motor looks sweet.
posted 01-27-2004 10:34 PM ET (US)
posted 01-28-2004 01:11 AM ET (US)
I'll be in Miami for a first-hand look. This should be quite a show.
posted 01-28-2004 02:20 PM ET (US)
I think it is about time that I ask my neighbor what this is all about.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 01-28-2004 02:35 PM ET (US)
Asking Pat Mackey, president of Mercury Marine, about "Project X" would be like asking Dean Kamen about "Ginger" (a.k.a. The Segway Human Transporter).
Does anyone even remember "Ginger"? It was top secret and revolutionary. A technologically amazing new device. It was going to change the world!
I occasionally see a water meter reader riding the sidewalks of Seattle on a Segway Human Transporter. I think you can rent one by the hour for amusement.
Advertising hype is meaningless. I wish Mercury all the best with their new product, but I'll believe it when I see it.
posted 01-28-2004 03:03 PM ET (US)
We all know it can't be any good. Afterall, it's only made in the US. To be truly innovative like Yamaha's 225 high performance(???) 4-stroke, it would have to be from Japan, Germany or even Montreal. At least that's what Phil Dyskow says.
posted 01-28-2004 08:37 PM ET (US)
Mercury has played a good hand in the pre-introduction phase of their publicity. For a "Top-Secret" project, I have sure been reading and hearing about it for two years now.
Their situation reminds me of where our company was about 25 years ago. We we introducing a new product. We generated terrific pre-introductory buzz about it. We had television spots. We had billboards all around town. Man, you could not look up from your car and fail to see one of our billboards.
Finally the new product came out...Initial sampling was great. Consumers came in droves to look and sample...About three days later it was back to business as usual, no big change in consumer habits.
Hype can bring them in, but you have to have product to sell.
Good luck to Mercury--it looks like they have a product!
posted 01-28-2004 09:16 PM ET (US)
The "Intelligence Data Communication" is delivered to you on a green monochromatic screen at a baud rate not seen since the 1970s. What's that all about?
Good product or not, I still can't help thinking about shrimp cocktail every time I see a profile view of the Project X motor hanging on a transom.
posted 01-28-2004 09:47 PM ET (US)
Yea, but Peter, when you get used to seeing them from behind, they won't look that way any more!!! Just tall, lean and mean.
Hopefully, at the Miami boat show JimH will have enough clout with the Whaler folks to take a 320 Outrage, running a pair of these, out for a test spin, and report back to us!
posted 01-28-2004 10:15 PM ET (US)
In the late 80's I worked for Burton Snowboards, when their revolutionary Burton Air model had recently been introduced. The ads for the next year's Burton Air model showed only a wooden crate with the words Mystery Air stenciled on the side. The reality was that the board was still in development by the time the snowboard magazine's ad deadlines came around, and the marketing folks had not decided on the topsheet graphics so a mock up couldn't be pictured either. As it turns out, the Mystery Air name created such a buzz in the fledgling industry that Burton ended up changing the name of the model from Air to Mystery Air, and developed all new graphics to go with the new name. Fortunately, the Mystery Air really was a generation ahead of the competion, with new construction technology, substanitially lighter weight and superior flex needed for the new sport of halfpipe riding. Burton stayed with the name for many years, and it was one of the most popular snowboard models of its time.
The Mercury Project X campaign reminds me very much of the Mystery Air days at Burton. I have no doubt that the new motors will be revolutionary in many ways, but I can't help but think that some of the secrecy is really because they're scrambling to get it all worked out in time to deliver the first unit. It's probably a fun time to be working in the R&D group at Mercury, as was at Burton during the Mystery Air project. We had our share of minor disasters along the way, but the product that ultimately reached the consumers was top notch.
posted 01-28-2004 11:31 PM ET (US)
Andy - the engines have probably been coming off the new line in Fond-du Lac for some time. Supposedly 3000 workers are involved in it's production, 24 hours a day.
The real reason for the intense secrecy is to keep the corporate spies and copycat Japanese, and probably Bombardier, at bay as long as possible. So far this secrecy has worked, as all three of the Japanese companies, several years ago, put their eggs in the big cube 60 degree V-6 basket, coming up with 3 close versions of ho-hum performance, while Mercury secretly developed a smaller cube, higher performance in-line 6, weighing a lot less. Mercury is convinced that everybody will be immediately attempting to "reverse engineer" it, but they hope not for 3 or 4 years. Once the cat is out the bag, and they get one shipped home for dissection, the race is on. That's just the way it is these days, unfortunately. The term "reverse engineer" represents a whole profession dedicated to legally circumventing patents, some times to the better.
Yamaha or Honda or Suzuki will probably have a shill buy a whole 320 Outrage rigged with a pair of these, since evidently they will be hard to buy "loose". Then the whole rig gets shipped to Japan for analysis and performance testing. Pathetic. But just wait and see.
posted 01-29-2004 07:21 AM ET (US)
I'm just wondering when your getting a pair for your 18' Outrage so you can sell me your 115's. :)
posted 01-29-2004 09:26 AM ET (US)
I can't imagine the price of those motors. The fly by wire shift and throttle which is required is already available and is in the thousands of dollars.
posted 01-29-2004 11:05 AM ET (US)
If you read further on in "Soundings Only" you'll find the article discussing Merc's accusations that Japanese outboard manufacturers are dumping motors in the American market...good way to lose the Japanese connection that happens to manufacture the only decent outboard in your line! Typical American industrial/manufacturing illogic...
posted 01-29-2004 12:21 PM ET (US)
I am watching the clock to see how long it takes for LHG to respond to that pithy remark.
posted 01-29-2004 03:26 PM ET (US)
Hello Brian - Here I am! How'd I do timewise?
As for "coleman", he should know that the good people of Wisconsin always spoke highly of him. Even though there is no such quote in the Sounding article. As a teacher, he should do a better job with his footnotes.
Once the Project X 4-strokes hit the water, the big, heavy, bulky looking conventional V-6 225/250 4-stroke beasts are going to get their doors blown off, which is not all that difficult anyway. Any respectable EFI or DFI will do it already. Performance oriented owners are complaining that the advertizing "hype" hasn't held up, and fuel economy is only minimally better, dragging around all that weight.
So the bottom could fall out of their star product fast, no longer being able to command the high prices, which will in turn cause the all three Japanese manufuacturers to cut the selling prices of these 4-strokes, offer incentives and long warranties to counter the demand for the higher priced Mercs. Mercury might be very wise in pushing this dumping complaint, in anticipation of such moves, heading them off at the pass. This is all speculation on my part, but time will tell. It certainly seems like a reasonable scenario to me. There have been enough controlled leaks to boating interests and the boating press, including test runs, to indicate these will be a great, high performing 4-stroke product. The bass and high performance guys are already all over them, so it will be interesting to see if the center console fishing/cruising market that we all represent, takes to them also.
posted 01-29-2004 04:24 PM ET (US)
Larry writes: "Yamaha or Honda or Suzuki will probably have a shill buy a whole 320 Outrage rigged with a pair of these, since evidently they will be hard to buy "loose". Then the whole rig gets shipped to Japan for analysis and performance testing. Pathetic. But just wait and see."
I'm betting that the "Axis of Outboard Evil" will dupe Mercury and Whaler into selling them two 320s so they'll have a pair of "shrimps" to dissect and a pair to run.
I'll have no problem looking at them from behind if that actually happens as I have long gotten over my daily "need for speed" although I do get a fix every now and then with the Classic 15. What I am interested in learning more about, however, is how much care and feeding these modern technological marvels will require relative to the "ho-hum" generics. If I have learned anything in this life it is that there is no such thing as a free lunch and all this "pleasure" from the yet to be seen "high performance" is likely to come with some "pain" one way or another.
Larry, what exactly is the definition of "big, heavy, bulky looking" in the context of outboard motors? Gauging from the couple of difficult to get a good look views in the X Files, the X motors were not exactly looking "trim on the transom" to me despite the black color.
Finally, with all that said, I do hope that Mercury has something good here because if it lives up to the hype (including some possible implications that it has overcome the laws of thermodynamics), it will raise the bar and make everybody's future products, even the "generic" ones, better for us consumers. I guess I'm in the same camp as Tom, I'll believe it when I see it. For the record, I never believed the hype on the Yamaha V6 4-stroke.
posted 01-29-2004 06:01 PM ET (US)
Peter - don't take my remarks personally, as I was really only responding, maybe too vigorously, to coleman's anti-Mercury bashing/trolling. I've always considered you one of the serious contributors here. Nor do I have anything against Yamaha engines, who partner with Mercury. Many friends have them and I think they are a nice, highly reliable, product. Hopefully it is OK to like my Mercs better.
I like your Axis of Evil remark relative to Mercury's complaint. We'll have to see if Mercury has any grounds for these dumping claims against the "Axis"! Who knows, certainly not I, except for the low prices I have seen on Suzuki engines. I've never thought Yamaha was a target, anyway, because as they say, their engines are always higher priced than Mercury, HP for HP.
My definition of big, bulky, heavy 200/225 Japanese 4-strokes is in relationship to my Mercury 200 EFI's. Side by side, the 4-strokes are gigantic in comparison, and with 40% more weight, completely out of the weight realm for powering my 25 Outrage. I have seen photos of your "black shrimp cocktails", with a person for scale, at they seem smaller, and much narrower. The lower two cylinders are in the mid section of the engine. As for weight, I'm guessing they could be 100#'s lighter, around the 500 mark instead of 600.
As for the high cost of performance, there have been exceptions. Both of my Whalers are powered by somewhat high performance outboards, fastest in their respective classes, and have been very reliable. I'll run my maintenance free 200 EFI's against any maintenance free 4-stroke 200 you can find, and leave it in my wake, guaranteed. Same for my in-line 6's against a 4-stroke 115. I believe it's possible for someone to develop a higher performance, lighter weight and quieter 4-stroke than are currently being offered, with no additional maintenance problems. We'll just have to see, but I am on the optomistic side, rather than the pessimistic side. I really don't want to see the Japanese bury yet another American industry. By shrewdly playing the DFI waiting game, they let OMC self-destruct, leaving only Mercury to go after. But Mercury has learned this lesson, playing the same waiting game with big 4-strokes, and is not about to lie down and play dead.
posted 01-30-2004 11:14 PM ET (US)
I would be suprised if Honda brought out an in-line six (6) cylinder engine. Their last was the still sought out CBX motorcycle about 20 years ago. One more point, Honda already has a production turbo marine engine, has in fact for two years. It is in their personal water craft. While at the Detroit autoshow for supplier day (a couple of days before it went public) I was shocked to see how many "American" engineers, designers and accountants were taking notes, measurements and sketches at the Toyota and Honda exhibits. Japan Inc. does not have a padlock on reverse engineering by any measure. I will say that Mercury has always been willing to take engineering risk, and this project is not without risk. I applaud their efforts and wish them well. As I have said many times, this is a great time to be involved with boating, as there is much technological change, almost from month to month.
posted 01-31-2004 08:27 PM ET (US)
There's more info on Merc website.... http://www.mercurymarine.com/news .... Pictures and Videos.
posted 02-02-2004 01:43 PM ET (US)
The web site talks about "Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering". Does that mean the hydraulics for the steering are going to be integrated into the engine? That at least sounds pretty cool.
posted 02-02-2004 08:36 PM ET (US)
Not to be pessimistic or anything. But all this fly by wire and electro hydralic steering stuff just seems like more stuff that can break. Am I right? Maybe I am wrong , I am not real educated on all of the new outboard technology. Please don't take this the wrong way.
posted 02-03-2004 01:10 PM ET (US)
Interestingly enough, when I was at Burton, we had a big closet full of all of our competetors snowboards. We'd go out and test ride them, take notes on what we liked and disliked, then we'd measure them, weigh them and carefully take them apart (well, as carefully as you can with an air chisel). We never learned too much, and found that the sidecut shapes and flex patterns were inferior to what the Burton team had engineered. We did see a lot of variation in quality control and materials however. The point is that reverse engineering is part of being competetive, even if it is only to feed the marketing folks with information on product features or differences that make your brand stand out.
When we tested our own boards, we always had them dummied up with last year's graphics (top and bottom) to help keep any new designs (good or bad) under wraps until the boards went to production. I also remember seeing the owner of a very small snowboard company demo Burton's new asymetric alpine board, and imediately take it to a picnic table and trace the profile on a few sheets of newspaper. This same guy later tried to hire me and another Burton employee from the R&D group, but we had heard rumors that he didn't always make payroll so we passed on his "generous" offer.
Getting back to Whalers and outboards, I think new advances in outboard technology seem more exciting when shrouded with a bit of mystery, but any manufacturer knows that the competition will try to learn as much as they can about a new product, and use it to improve their own products. The difficult part is not always the design concept or idea, it's the execution. I don't think Mercury needs to worry that Yamaha, Bombardier, Suzuki, Honda or anyone else will steal their technology and quickly catch up to them. At Burton, we didn't care who tried to copy our boards, but we were very careful to keep or manufacturing techniques, materials suppliers and QC processes a secret.
posted 02-03-2004 02:40 PM ET (US)
Mercury has already indicated, publically at a Brunswick financial conference, that they fully expect the Japanese to to copy the Project X technology in about 3 or 4 years. So their window of exclusiveness could be relatively small. Hopefully by that time, the "X" will become so popular that the copies won't be deemed to be as good. Not that Mercury will be standing still during this period. I'm sure the concern is that companies like Honda and Suzuki have huge financial resources they can bring to bear to quickly make up this technology gap.
I wonder what a company like Grady or Pursuit is going to do as Project X comes out. Being contractually tied to Yamaha, they've got to be concerned, not only about the Yen problem and dumping complaint, but about their 4-stroke 200/225 offering. Without question anybody with the money to buy a big new Grady or Pursuit is going to a least be watching the super quiet & hot performance of Project X 250's with interest. And the more powerful Yamaha 250/300 HPDI's have had a few initial reliability problems. So how many of these people are going to want their Grady or Pursuit with Project X instead, or worse, yet, won't buy one with out them? There is no question these engines will help sell the "transoms" they are on, and I'll bet boat builders are already scrambling to make some new deals with Mercury.
This should be interesting for some of the Yamaha affinity deals, along the lines of the Whaler buyers who want other than Merc.
I'm attending Red Carpet Day at the Miami show, and it should be real interesting to see who has the action and who doesn't.
posted 02-06-2004 01:20 PM ET (US)
Not sure of the reliability of the poster, but listed below is some new info I have not read before:
From the THT web site as posted by Sundancekid, a self-described dealer in South FL
posted 02-06-2004 02:15 PM ET (US)
That sounds like pretty reliable information to me, and is what I have also read. I don't who the SundanceKid is within the operation, but Sundance Marine in Ft Lauderdale is a large seller of big Mercs, and they know their outboards better than anybody, with some of the best Mercury mechanics to be found. All of my own Mercury 200's have been purchased from them. So I'll be hanging around the place to see what I can learn!
Without doubt their mechanics would have already been through the Project X training program, so the information should be pretty good. The concept of a single electrical cable to handle steering, ignition and engine controls sure sounds interesting, and simple, to me, but re-powering expenses could be a little high with one or two of these engines. It appears existing controls and steering will have to be discarded.
posted 02-06-2004 02:22 PM ET (US)
Oops - Just re-read the Sundance post and it sounds like the two steering hydraulic lines are still needed, probably from a conventional Teleflex helm pump. Everything else must be in the data cable. Very cool. Don't modern planes also use a fly-by-wire system? Is that where the term came from?
posted 02-06-2004 03:30 PM ET (US)
Yes, fly-by-wire's origination is from military aircraft-I believe the F-18 Hornet was the first production military aircraft with fly-by-wire and the Boeing 777, the first US Commercial. I'm sure some fly-boys will help me out if I'm incorrect.
There was information on Mercury Project X web site that the steering will be "Electro-hydraulic power steering". To me, that means a propotional electrical signal at the helm that will activate an integral electrical hydraulic pump for steering in the engine. I believe it will be a proportional analog signal since they did not mention a "digital link" as with the Smartgauge. This would allow all links to the engine from the helm to be wire. Again, this is an educated guess based upon the crumbs we've been given.
posted 02-06-2004 08:02 PM ET (US)
Well, here we are. A alittle over a week away from the unveiling of Mercury's new X lineup. It will be interesting to see if Mercury's X motors will be Mercury only or if they will let Yamaha paint some dark grey.
I was very suprised when Yamaha came out with their 225 4 strokes and made an agreement with Mercury to sell them as well with black and decals.
From what I heard, Yamaha couldnt make them fast enough in the beginning and to give Mercury some to sell as a competitor, lends to make me think there was a deal that would lend a reversal of this arrangement.
What possible returns did Yamaha get out of that deal? Possibly some marketing rights to new Mercury technology?
posted 02-06-2004 08:32 PM ET (US)
Sterling, I have wondered and speculated the same thing. But from what I can tell, Yamaha will not get cut in on this one. Which does bring up your question as to why Yamaha let Mercury in on their hottest offering? The possibilities could be very revealing, as there was definitely some reason for doing this.
This may be a highly unpopular notion, particularly here, but first of all, I think Yamaha wanted to bury Honda with their new 225, and having an additional 4000 instant sales, painted black, really runs up the production figures and helps pay for develpment costs much faster. From what I can tell by observation, the Yamaha/Merc 225 has outsold the Honda I'll bet 10 to 1. They have been very popular. So for Yamaha this engine has made sense, and maybe not so for Honda, not yet.
But I also think that Yahaha probably realized fairly early in the game that the interest in this engine could be short lived, and have a real problem competing with the Project X.
So that's MY theory, goofy as it may sound. Kind of "Get it while the goin's good"!
The only other theory that I have, is that perhaps Mercury agreed to license out a few patents to them which are key to being able to "reverse engineer" the engine, but not give away the whole ship. Who knows.
posted 02-06-2004 08:36 PM ET (US)
In case anyone has forgotten--about two years ago I posted pictures of the damn thing, and I think these appeared long before most folks saw them elsewhere in magazines or online. See:
Previous postings on this forum have mentioned:
--fly-by-wire shift and throttle
and so on. We've been talking about these things for two years or so.
Now something that has been mentioned often but so far unconfirmed is the possibility for air induction boost, either turbocharged or supercharged.
Another area left unconfirmed is variable valve timing.
But all of this has been written in detail for months and months here--probably more than most other boating forums. It ain't like some guy on another forum leaked this all out in one post this week. We've had our ear to the ground on this for two years.
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