The escalation of the power figures of the outboard motors seems to have no limits, but is it just a fad or a rational choice? We ask Alessandro Conti of Mercury Marine Italia.
Alessandro Conti is general manager of Mercury Marine Italia and in the last years he has attended the launch of engines such as the Verado 400R, still one of the most powerful outboards on our market, although after the introduction of Yamaha V8 XTO 425 hp it will be the…second best. On a different level there’s Seven Marine (now brand of Volvo Penta) with two models delivering 557 and 625 hp. It’s the confirmation that the market wants powerful units, and outboard motors are now pushing even large boats that used to mount sterndrives.
Exhibitionism, fad or a rational choice?
“Let’s say that the motivations that lead to the choice of exuberant outboard motors can have various origins and not all of them homogeneous – explains Alessandro Conti -. Indeed, to be honest, it is often about conflicting motivations. But the point still is that the market requires them more and more frequently and if, in addition to Mercury, other manufacturers have announced or launched engines over 300 hp, it is a clear symptom of a trend that can’t be dismissed as a fad. Behind every new engine there are huge investments and a big builder does not waste thousands of dollars out of the window to follow an ephemeral question. More, we are witnessing a world-wide phenomenon, not only a matter of USA or Middle East, who enjoy low fuel price: now also in the far East and in the Mediterranean the demand is more and more real. However, from a sales point of view, if the increases in % can be impressive because they refer to an almost new market, actually the incidence of a few hundred units over 300 hp on a market that (just in Italy) is around 17 thousand outboard engines yearly, remains fairly low“.
What about the rational reasons?
“Within what we can categorize as rational choices we can count the idea that maintaining an outboard unit is simpler and cheaper than an inboard with sterndrives. This is Partially true, because if some of the systems are simpler, it is also true that maintenance request is very similar, perhaps with just the advantage of keeping the shaft cleaner as it can tilt out of the water, but in the end the difference is minimal. On the other hand, the swim platform is almost lost, even if we must say that boatyards have been able to create ever wider and more welcoming platforms on the sides of the outboards. Even accessories are the same, and fuel consumption is aligned to petrol inboard engines, so finding rational motivations is not an easy task“.
And the not-so-rational ones
“The motivations related to impulse and to passion are different. I noticed that a significant percentage of the demand comes from former owners of large boats who have sold them to reduce management issues, and now aim for a nimble and easy-handling boat which can still satisfy their ego: for them, a pair of Verado 400Rs at the stern work perfectly for the job, even if the boat is not a racer but a cruiser. Then again, the outboard motor is more visible and more satisfying to the eye, in other words it makes a statement”.
What do you think? Let us know if you would go for large outboard engines to…make waves, or prefer an inboard unit with sterndrives. What’s better for you?