- It’s stunning to look at, stunning to drive.
- Seeing the new G2 in the flesh for the first time is a genuinely exciting experience.
- … the driving experience is not only enhanced but made simpler and safer.
- Perhaps it’s fitting that the company to make this bold step forward is the very same company that many regard as being the name that started it all way back in 1909.
HMS heads to Lake Maggoire in Italy for the European launch of BRP’s all-new G2 technology and to seize the rare opportunity to interview two key men involved in the already fast-moving and groundbreaking Evinrude G2 journey …
The moment the very first images of the new Evinrude G2 were released and sent to PBR’s office for our initial impressions, we all knew that this was no ‘ordinary’ engine. It was different, very different, and there was no way it had been designed with the intention of following the crowd. Everything about it – its shape and appearance, its highly original design and styling, even its customisable colour variants – made a statement … and a powerful one at that! Up until now, each new succession of outboard engines, of one sort or another, to be launched into the market has been a derivative of that which has gone before. It’s been a very long time indeed since someone took it upon themselves to look at the whole concept of outboard technology and think ‘let’s start completely afresh with literally no predetermined views in order to determine the fresh direction this concept needs to take’.
Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the company to make this bold step forward is the very same company that many regard as being the name that started it all way back in 1909. Outboard technology, from a viable, commercially successful standpoint at least, was originally delivered by Evinrude, and though it can’t be said that over the last 105 years they’ve always had the best product in the market, no one can rob them of the title of having been the first to design, launch and popularise this form of marine technology.
Seeing the new G2 in the flesh for the first time is a genuinely exciting experience. This is a product designed for impact – one that demands your attention. And no way does the initial impression diminish upon the engine firing into life; on the contrary, you’re held transfixed. Moving the throttle into gear and powering forward, let me tell you that every expectation in terms of the engine’s performance is fulfilled. I have never driven an engine that can still pin you to the back of your seat at 80% wide-open throttle! Most engines are pretty much spent at that point. The sound it produces is like that of a well-tuned sports car, and what we are all going to really love about this engine is that even at wide-open throttle it’s reported as using 30% less fuel than its best-performing counterpart/market competitor. It’s stunning to look at, stunning to drive.
Besides its exceptional torque, power, weight and fuel-saving achievements, the G2 benefits from a completely fresh approach to such key factors as chamber combustion, the engine’s oil reservoir, its exhaust technology and design, the eradication of mechanical linkages, the design of the gear housing and the G2’s hydrodynamic engine leg. Even the way the engine should be secured to the transom has been completely rethought through. All these areas have been developed with major weight-saving and COG advantages in mind so that the G2’s power-to-weight ratio and overall balance help deliver even more performance and efficiency.
From a user’s point of view, the G2’s fully integrated system is far more akin to the user-friendly technology a consumer would expect from a modern, high-quality road vehicle. From the essential ergonomically designed controls through to the design of the engine’s digital data/information panel, the driving experience is not only enhanced but made simpler and safer. To take just one example, you can switch to ‘auto trim’, whereupon the engine reads the sea state plus the behaviour of the boat from the perspective of what the engine’s being asked to do and then the technology takes care of the rest. Unless you are racing, believe me, you really don’t have to play with that trim control anymore! For those, in particular, who are less experienced, this means a safer, more comfortable ride and greater fuel economy too – all at the touch of a button! Besides the many functions and integrated technologies to aid the driving experience, the fact that the engine is virtually self-servicing makes the job of maintenance and the expense associated with it almost history.
Some will say that the outboard motor has truly entered the 21st century. Of course, consumers will make their own judgement as these products roll out over the months to come. But I for one view the launch of the Evinrude G2 as being a turning point – one that has the potential to revolutionise our whole approach to carbon emissions, efficiency and performance in outboard power. Furthermore – and this, I believe, will be the secret to the G2’s success – these advantages have been delivered by people who know and understand what powerboaters really need and want. Like the year 1909, the year 2014 will, I think, be considered a true landmark year in the history of outboard power. A case of Evinrude having done it again!
The G2 Innovator
HMS interviews George Broughton, Director of Advanced Engineering and Innovation at BRP, and also the man whose brainchild the new G2 really is. In this exclusive interview for PBR, George reveals the true facts about how this technology came about, the challenges faced and his vision for the future.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your work with Evinrude over the years?
I’ve been with Evinrude since 1979, first with OMC until 2001, then Bombardier, and since 2003 with BRP. I have worked in product engineering in various roles since the beginning. I am currently the Director of Advanced Engineering and Innovation.
What was the first spark of an idea that led to G2 actually coming into existence?
The E-TEC line-up was in production, so we had rebuilt the base following the OMC bankruptcy. Now we were in the position to do something big. It was time to leverage BRP’s innovative DNA. Tactically, we were beginning to see results from early thermodynamic simulations, which would become the base of the new engine.
What were the essential design criteria you felt a new engine had to possess in order to be worthy of the market?
It was essential to achieve thermodynamic properties that demonstrated significant [15%] fuel economy improvement, better torque and world-compliant emissions. The product needed to be recognisable from 100 metres at dusk. We also had to deliver something significant to improve the consumer experience [reliability, operator interface, power steering, I-trim, customisable looks, fuel efficiency, torque, cleanliness, ease of maintenance, lifetime value].
Why 2-stroke when the marine outboard industry in general remains committed to 4-stroke?
We knew that if we could leverage the inherent advantages of the 2-stroke [great torque, light weight, low maintenance] and produce better fuel economy and emissions we would have a significant improvement over 4-stroke. By the late 2000s we had a new tool in our arsenal: computational fluid dynamics simulation of the in-cylinder events. With this tool we were able to develop a combustion system with significant advantages over the current-generation E-TEC and the 4-stroke engines, in terms of fuel economy and emissions, as well as torque curve. The other factor is there are many brands producing 4-strokes. We saw no need to enter this ‘sea of sameness’.
How long did the design process take and how many ‘dead-ends’ did you and your design team face along the way?
It was about a five-year process. We were reinventing the platform from prop nut to flywheel nut. The ‘dead-ends’ were more like very heated debates, from the vertical Evinrude name, to the integrated steering, to the overall look. With so many paradigms being challenged there was plenty of room for debate. Fortunately, modern simulation techniques allowed us to rapidly explore many options [some of which were indeed dead-ends], and ultimately get to the right answers.
From a personal point of view, what was the greatest design challenge and what do you consider to be the greatest design achievement?
The biggest overall challenge was breaking down so many paradigms. For example, the helix used in the midsection is derived from the construction industry; bringing this to the marine industry was a big step. Of course, we knew from our data that the 2-stroke DI could bring superior performance; however, we also knew that we would be alone in this message. The greatest design achievement is the thermodynamic performance of the Evinrude E-TEC G2 [world-class power curve, fuel economy and emissions].
If you had to describe in concise ‘layman’s’ terms the new Evinrude E-TEC G2 – its benefits, its key attributes and strengths – what would you say?
This is a new outboard engine that produces up to 75% fewer total regulated emissions, with 15% better fuel efficiency and 20% more torque than leading 4-stroke engines. The new Evinrude E-TEC G2 engine offers the first and only customisable look, the only clean rigging and fully integrated digital controls. These innovations now allow consumers to choose the absolute perfect combination of boat and engine by selecting top and front panels, as well as accent colours that match your boat. BRP’s next generation of Evinrude E-TEC engines are backed by unmatched value, with the industry’s best engine warranty, least maintenance and best-in-class fuel efficiency. BRP is the only engine offering five-five-five: five-year engine warranty**, five-year corrosion warranty and 500 hours with no dealer-scheduled maintenance, allowing for the most time on the water.
What impact do you foresee the G2 technology having on the global marine market?
As the G1 served as an industry benchmark for weight, performance, torque, maintenance and appearance, the Evinrude E-TEC G2 will reset the bar for all of these things as well as fuel economy, emissions and consumer experience.
How do you see the future – whether that be in terms of new fuels or even more advanced engine systems?
We will continue to push the envelope with the 2-stroke DI technology, as well as technologies that enhance the consumer experience. As far as fuels are concerned, plant-derived advanced biofuels are gaining momentum. Isobutanol, for example, is an upcoming alternative to ethanol that contains nearly 90% of the energy of gasoline [compared with ~63% for ethanol] and is not hydroscopic. Through our collaboration with NMMA and Argonne National Laboratory, isobutanol blends are showing great promise for use in marine engines.
In this second exclusive interview, HMS talks to Neil Holmes, champion powerboat racer and master instructor, and also the very first man in the UK to fit and sea-trial BRP’s all-new G2 engine. Here Neil reveals his first impressions of the new technology.
Can you tell us about your background and also how you came to be involved with Evinrude products?
I trained and worked as a Mercury outboard race engineer and have successfully raced offshore powerboats since my early 20s. In 2002 we designed and built our first Phantom Evolution Sports RIB. During testing for the boat we trialled a number of engines, and in late 2006 we teamed up with BRP Evinrude to promote the 225 HO E-TEC on our own Phantom Evolution RIB used at the Neil Holmes Powerboat Training Academy.
Your first-hand knowledge of engine systems is extensive, but how excited are you by the new G2 technology?
I used to run a high-performance Mercury dealership and from time to time an updated model would be realised, but when I was asked to drive the new G2 Evinrude I thought it was going to be another one of those ‘smoke and mirrors’ new models, where basically they change the graphics on the cowling and hey presto here’s your new engine! How wrong could I be! This is a totally new product from the skeg up, four and a half years in the design and with some very innovative features. Then I started to look closer and it’s amazing.
What sets the G2 apart from the rest of the market in your view?
I still hear people say ‘I thought 2-strokes were banned’. If that’s the case the G2 Evinrude outboard won’t ever be released onto the market. The fact is, BRP chose to go down the 2-stroke route; this in itself sets them apart from other engine manufacturers. The very lightweight power-to-weight ratio is a hell of a lot less strain on the boat’s transom. Having 500-hour service intervals must be good for your wallet. The clutter of all that rigging in the engine well and under the rear seat has now gone, so no more ‘bird’s nest’ of wiring to try and hide from the consumer, and that’s a major benefit for those less talented riggers – all they have to concentrate on now is fitting the fly-by-wire controls and instruments to the boat.
Can you describe to us your initial impressions when you first came to evaluate the new technology?
The G1 was removed from a P1 Panther and a ‘like-for-like’ G2 model was fitted ready for the BRP European launch in Italy, so I asked to have it for a few hours to take a sneaky look over the engine and run it prior to the launch. With the words ‘do not damage this product’ still ringing in my ears, I pulled the overall cover off the boat to be greeted by a cross between Robocop and Optimus Prime the Transformer. This really is different. Now I need to get out and run this beast. The touch screen instrument panel is fantastic and fun to use – I found myself wanting to try every setting it had available, but all at the same time (it’s a boy thing)! The journey down the river seemed like a good time to use all of the cruise control buttons – nice touch when you have a 10-minute trip to the sea. Finally I got to open water and opened the throttle. The boat shot up onto the plane, making me think I must have activated the ‘grin factor mode’ knowing this boat was leaving to go to Italy the following day. Left me with a conundrum: should I (A) be sensible and run the boat carefully so as not to risk anything silly happening to it, or (B) drive it round the race track to just see what this engine was capable of …? Don’t be stupid – it was always going to be (B)! Three fast laps later and the engine had shown its true colours. It’s faster and with more torque pushing you out of the corners, resulting in beating my fastest ever P1 Panther lap time by a considerable margin!
What advantage do you feel this 2-stroke technology has over 4-stroke?
Two-stroke engines have always had a power-to-weight-ratio advantage over their 4-stroke rivals; however, the downside has been excessive fuel consumption and plumes of smoke billowing from the engine while running. The G1 Evinrude addressed these issues successfully and the enhanced G2 technology has taken it to a totally new level. The power is awesome, it doesn’t smoke and it appears to be allergic to petrol – and all that from an engine that uses its lubricant while running and keeps emission levels to an all-time low, whereas you turn off a 4-stroke engine and you still have a sump full of dirty engine oil to dispose of when you service it.
Can you relate any negative issues you have found thus far in your work with G2?
The few negative issues I see may be that boatbuilders will need to up their game to take full advantage of this new technology, making the boat engine wells neater to take advantage of the new non-moving rigging tube, and will BRP be able to cope with the demand for this product?!
What do you feel are the G2’s outstanding attributes that set it apart from the rest of the outboard market?
Most humans don’t like or welcome change, but even the most stubborn of critics have a reason to now – this is tomorrow’s technology arriving today! The design features on this engine are stunning! Five-hundred-hour service intervals [not sure the dealers will like that!]. The non-moving rigging tube, the touch screen instrument panel incorporating buttons, so no more cutting the tip off one of your gloves to use it. The on-water visible gear oil reservoir sight glass fitted to the engine cowl, so no more surprises when you take the drain bung out of your gearbox only to find a thick white Brylcreem-like substance dripping out. Its high-output charging system that will work at a low RPM [just above idle], so you can use a lot more electronic devices and charge your iPhone without flattening your batteries. Automatic trim system [not for competition use], not forgetting this engine comes with custom cowling colour schemes with up to 400 choices, so now it’s not just your boat that you can ‘bling’ up.
What impact do you project the G2 will have over the course of the next five years?
I think the G2 technology will be incorporated in all of BRP’s outboard products and I can’t wait to see them. Also, of course, though my interest is primarily connected with performance, these engines will undoubtedly infiltrate into every sector of the market – whether that be commercial, cruising, leisure/sports, offshore etc. I think the G2 has the potential to be taken up by everyone because the technology is so applicable and relevant to every field. Therefore it has a truly massive future ahead of it, in my view.
The Academy is a unique training facility based on the Itchen River close to the centre of Southampton. Offering RYA courses, high-performance and race tuition, it is recognised by the RYA as a ‘specialist training establishment’ as well as an RYA training centre. Working with the P1 Superstock series, the Academy offers comprehensive training to both new and existing pilots and co-pilots. Alongside setting up and testing, marathon and endurance racing is a passion for tuition provide Neil Holmes, who holds many titles, including seven world championships, three world speed records and numerous national and European awards. He has also competed in many Cowes-Torquay-Cowes races, and most recently this year in the London to Monte Carlo event, breaking a few records along the way (unofficially).
Neil is the founder and designer of the Phantom Evolution range of sports RIBs and also works with several top manufacturers on research and development. He is also a qualified Mercury race engineer. In 1988, he won his first Offshore Powerboat world title, racing in the 4-litre offshore category. This was repeated the following year. In 1989, he travelled for the first time with his catamaran Fina Unleaded to the Middle East, which was the start of a long and successful career with the Emirates racing scene, during which he raced for many sheiks and ran a three-boat team of his own in Dubai.
In 1990, Neil took the class 11 fleet by surprise, winning the world title with his now famous Fina Unleaded, a small boat indeed for such a task. Neil again won the world title in 1992, 1994 and 1997 in the 4-litre class, and with a 6-litre world title in 1994 there could be no doubt of his ability. Achievements of this magnitude don’t happen by chance, and the knowledge and skill that made it possible are now available to those who wish to learn at the Neil Holmes Powerboat Training Academy in Southampton. Opened in 2004, the Academy trains both new and existing racers and is the only professional race training centre in the UK. It is currently involved in the research and development of suspension seats, new production 8-metre-plus rigid hull inflatables and very specialised training programmes for commercial application (see www.powerboatcentre.com).
The History and Development of the OBM
The first known outboard motor was a small 5kg electric unit designed around 1870 by Gustave Trouvé and patented in May 1880 (patent no. 136,560). Later about 25 petrol-powered outboards were produced in 1896 by the American Motors Co., but neither of these two pioneering efforts appear to have had much commercial impact.
The Waterman outboard engine appears to be the first real gasoline-powered outboard offered for sale. Developed by Cameron Waterman, a young Yale engineering student, it was developed from 1903, with a patent application being filed in 1905. Starting in 1906, the company went on to make thousands of his ‘Porto-Motor’ units, claiming 25,000 sales by 1914. The inboard boat motor firm the Caille Motor Company of Detroit was instrumental in making the cylinder and engines.
The most successful early outboard motor was created by Norwegian-American inventor Ole Evinrude in 1909. Between 1909 and 1912, Evinrude made thousands of his outboards and the 3hp units were sold around the world. His Evinrude Outboard Co. was spun off to other owners, and he went on to success with ELTO. The 1920s were the first high-water mark for the outboard, with Evinrude, Johnson, ELTO, Atwater Lockwood and dozens of other makers in the field.
Historically, the majority of outboards have been 2-stroke powerheads fitted with a carburettor due to the design’s inherent simplicity, reliability, low cost and light weight. Drawbacks include increased pollution, due to the high volume of unburned gasoline in their exhaust, and louder noise.
Although 4-stroke outboards have been sold since the late 1920s, particularly Roness and Sharland, in 1962 Homelite introduced a commercially viable four-cycle outboard with a 55hp motor, based on the 4-cylinder Crossley automobile engine. This was called the Bearcat, which was later purchased by Fisher-Pierce, who became makers of the Boston Whaler for use in their boats because of their technical superiority and efficiency over 2-strokes. In the early 1980s, the Honda Motor Co. introduced their first 4-stroke powerhead, and in 1984, Yamaha did the same. These motors were only available in the smaller HP range. In 1990, Honda released 35hp and 45hp 4-stroke models. They continued to lead in the development of 4-stroke engines throughout the 1990s, as US and European exhaust emission regulations such as CARB (California Air Resources Board) led to the proliferation of 4-stroke outboards. At first, North American manufacturers such as Mercury and OMC used engine technology from Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha and Suzuki, until they were able to develop their own 4-stroke engine. The inherent advantages of 4-stroke motors included noise reduction, increased fuel economy, low-end torque and smoother operation.
The Honda Marine Group, Mercury Marine, Mercury Racing, Nissan Marine, Suzuki Marine, Tohatsu Outboards, Yamaha Marine and China Oshen-Hyfong marine have all developed new 4-stroke engines. Some are carburetted, usually the smaller engines – the balance is electronically fuel injected. Depending on the manufacturer, newer engines benefit from advanced technology such as multiple valves per cylinder, variable camshaft timing (Honda’s VTEC), boosted low-end torque (Honda’s BLAST), three-way cooling systems and closed-loop fuel injection. Mercury Verado 4-strokes also employ supercharge technology.