BRP has announced a 2008 outboard line-up that includes a new High Output version of its Evinrude E-TEC 250, commercial-grade mid-range Evinrude models, and general enhancements and upgrades across the Evinrude line. What's missing is any Johnson outboard, as BRP has put that venerable brand into mothballs.
BRP Strokes the Evinrude 250 H.O.
All-American graphics —on a motor from a Canadian company? — and a new Lightning nose-cone style gear case distinguish the Evinrude 250 H.O. from the standard 250 model. A slightly taller, 1.71:1 gear ratio, compared to 1.85:1 for the standard Evinrude 250, accommodates this motor's high power output and top-speed potential. Gears are made from higher-grade steel and the bearing retention system is improved. There's more power on tap because the 250 H.O. gets a 5 percent bump in displacement to 3441 cc (210 cubic inches) from 3279 cc (200 ci), as the stroke is increased to 3.00 inches from 2.858 inches. Bore remains 3.854 inches. A revised intake tract improves air flow, while a new, one-piece cast exhaust is more efficient than the design is replaces, which has 24 separate pieces.
With a claimed dry weight of 507 pounds with a 20-inch shaft, the Evinrude 250 H.O. is slimmed right down to the weight of the svelte Mercury Optimax 250 Pro XS (www.mercurymarine.com), which like the Evinrude is a direct-injected two stroke aimed at high-performance bass boats. The Evinrude 250 H.O. will also be offered with in a 25-inch length. Only the 250 H.O gets the displacement boost. The other 90-degree V6 Evinrude models (200 to 225 hp) stay at 3.3 liters.
Other Evinrude News
New 1.3-liter three-cylinder E-TEC models rated at 65 and 90 horsepower are aimed at the commercial and government applications and designed to run on lower-grade fuel found outside of the North American market. Counter-rotation is now offered for twin applications on the 115-hp model. All Evinrude models now feature long-lasting iridium spark plugs, an improved cylinder sleeve design, and enhanced fuel injectors. Across the board, Evinrude models feature the E-TEC two-stroke direct injection system, which makes them light weight and strong on the bottom of the powerband compared to the four-stroke motors that have come to dominate all segments of the outboard market except for the bass boat niche. The most significant down-side of E-TEC (and of the two-strokes offered by Mercury and Yamaha) is the constant chore of maintaining a reservoir of two-stroke injector oil. The other problem still facing Evinrude dealers is the fact that BRP has still not offered any Evinrude models below 40 hp. In my neck of the North Woods, this means rigging an Evinrude-powered walleye boat with a kicker of another brand, which is kind of like putting a Ford tailgate on your new Chevy truck. You can make it work, but you probably won't like the way it looks.
As I predicted in this column a few months ago, for 2008 BRP will not produce any outboards under the Johnson brand. In fact, I don't think they built any Johnsons in 2007 as they let the inventory run down. After it bought the outboard assets of bankrupt OMC in 2001, BRP tried to make Johnson its alternative to an all-E-TEC Evinrude. Johnson offered four-stroke models built by BRP and Suzuki, and traditional two-strokes. But a few years ago as BRP set out to put all its eggs in the E-TEC basket, it terminated the Suzuki deal and then let production of the four-stroke kickers and portable two-strokes it built in-house dwindle. The old-style two-stroke will be legislated off the market in another season anyway, and BRP has invested too much in infomercials bashing four-strokes to be selling that technology under another brand. In a statement from its communications department, BRP said that, ""¦we will continue to own and maintain the Johnson brand"¦(It is) a very valuable asset and we are evaluating many opportunities to continue to use it in the future..." BRP dealers will continue to support Johnson with parts and service.
The first Johnson Light Twin outboard was introduced at the New York Motor Boat Show in 1922.