Boating Industry

March 2016

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March 2016 | Boating Industry | 29 /// Market Trends /// BY JONATHAN SWEET From the two largest players taking very different approaches to developing new engines to a new manufacturer emerging in the market, the once pre- dictable sterndrive engine segment has suddenly gotten a lot more interesting. In the last two years alone, Mercury has launched its purpose-built stern- drive, while Volvo Penta has introduced its Forward Drive, as well as its next generation of sterndrives, built on the GM platform. And at this year's Miami International Boat Show in February, inboard engine manufacturer Ilmor announced its entry into the market. A new player Ilmor debuted its "One Drive" at the show, available in single- and twin- drive configurations. Powering the sterndrive package are the GM-Marine based Ilmor MV8 6.0L OPS (380 HP) and 6.2L OPS (430HP) engines, of- fered with electronic throttle and closed cooling systems as standard. The Ilmor One Drive utilizes sterndrive components provided by Yanmar Ma- rine, already in operation with its diesel sterndrive systems. On twin engine boats, Ilmor offers an optional "One Touch" joystick system. The system includes Ilmor's MERLIN engine monitoring display and can be equipped with auto-pilot compatibility. Despite the decline in sterndrive sales over the last decade, Ilmor sees the segment as one poised for a recovery, said company president Paul Ray. "We are an engineering company at heart," he said. "As engineers we sit down and think about how would you want to design a boat for the best effect, and sterndrive still makes enormous sense." Sterndrives make for a vessel with cleaner lines and more aesthetic appeal, Ray said. "For us, we invested a lot of money in the development of this because of our belief that sterndrive is going to come back because all of the reasons that sterndrive was developed in the first place still exist today," he said. "It's more about the aesthetic than it is about just creating a fiberglass hull and throwing some engines on the back and saying we're good." Ilmor has been working on various sterndrive projects for several years, and built the first of what would become the One Drive about 18 months ago. The company even looked at the outboard market but decided not to enter that segment for a variety of reasons. "We fully recognize that outboards are going through a renaissance," Ray said. "Certainly outboards have progressed enormously over time. That's what we're doing here. We're trying to progress the sterndrive." At Miami, the engine was demonstrated on the Formula 350 CBR FX and is now available for purchase on Formula boats. Ilmor is working with several other OEMs as well. The Ilmor team believes there is a space in the market for a more "re- fined" sterndrive product that will appeal to a higher-end customer. The One Drive propulsion system features an electro-magnetically ac- tuated hydraulic clutch transmission, the source of Ilmor's "smooth shift" experience. The hydraulic clutch system quietly engages and disengages gears at two-shifts-per-second, according to the company. "One of the reasons that we chose this drive to make work with our sys- tem is its hydraulic shifting," Ray said. "It's silky smooth and you wouldn't want to go down the cone clutch road with the harshness you get with the typical cone clutch drive, particularly when you're in joystick mode. You want it to be as smooth as possible." The twin propeller drive unit is built with precision forged gears for in- creased durability and is hard anodized for superior corrosion protection. All drive systems are complete with power assisted steering and hydraulic trim. Mercury's 6.2-liter V8 300hp engine is the latest in the company's line of purpose-built sterndrives. "Even if you produce one great product after another, you can still be behind unless you have a great ecosystem around it." — David Foulkes, Mercury Marine Volvo Penta introduced its next-gen V8 engines in August.

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