One of the new things we're spotlighting in this summer edition of the Rampageous is an interview with the Director of Product Development and Engineering, Tony Martens. We're calling this section of the e-newsletter, "The Engineers' Corner." It's basically a chance for Tony to share new product updates, the latest in marine electronics, and give you an inside look at new boat designs from bow to stern. Right now, Tony is designing and getting ready to test the new 2009 Rampage 34 Express, powered by Volvo Penta IPS with joystick technology.
If you're not familiar with Volvo Penta IPS, it's a revolutionary new propulsion system which dramatically increases efficiency (less fuel consumption) compared to conventional inboard models. Volvo's Penta IPS system also offers better top speeds, faster acceleration, shorter turning radiuses and all the performance you would want in a boat. While the 34 Rampage Express isn't expected to be on the market until later this year, Tony is hard at work with Volvo Penta to make sure this technology gives Rampage boat owners' an edge over the competition.
How will Volvo Penta IPS technology affect the Rampage brand and the hardcore sport fish industry. Here's what Martens had to sayl
Rampageous: What does the new 34 Rampage Express, powered by Volvo Penta IPS with joystick technology, actually mean to the average sport fisherman?
Martens: "With the Volvo Penta system you're going to get better range so you'll ultimately get better fuel mileage out of the existing amount of fuel on board. You'll also get better performance and better maneuverability, so the boat should run faster with the same size engine. It will also be much easier to maneuver around docks because it will have joystick technology; and the backing down characteristics of the pod drive has been improved over a conventional straight inboard engine installation."
Rampageous: How much engineering work has gone into creating the new 34 Rampage Express?
Martens: "This isn't something that we've taken and adapted. We're going to pretty much start from scratch, redesigning the bottom to accept the pod drive. The pod drive during installation inherently changes the LCG of the boat and the way it sits in the water along with running angles. To compensate for that, we've pretty much designed the hull to accept the application of the pod drive. We're doing all this in conjunction with Volvo Penta. We have manufactured a hull and shipped it to their Engine Application Center in Virginia. Volvo Penta is actually doing the prototype installation out there with our assistance. The testing will also be done in Virginia at Volvo Penta's test center."
Rampageous: What are some of the challenges of perfecting this type of technology?
Martens: "Until we actually run the physical hull we're not going to know a number of things: like how the boat floats statically, what kind of hump angles we're going to get coming out of the hole, what kind of running angles we'll get when we're at speed, or what the cruise or wide-open throttle will be like. So it's a weight and balance game really."
Rampageous: How long do you think it will take to get this boat out on the market?
Martens: "We started the project in March. We will have the weighted hull in Virginia ready to test at the end of June. We'll then have to bring the boat out here (Oconto, WI) so we can put a deck on it in time for the worldwide Rampage dealer meeting at the end of July. It's in Wisconsin this year so it really helps us from a timing standpoint. At that point it will be a test mule or test boat. It won't be a completed boat. After we see how the 34 is received at the dealer meeting, that's when we'll have to go and make the tooling required to go into production. We probably won't be talking about production of the boat until October."
Rampageous: What does this mean for the Rampage brand?
Martens: "By installing the IPS drives in hard-core or offshore fishing boats, it's going to be an advantage to the entire Rampage brand. Right now we're testing the waters with the 34 but if all goes well, we're definitely prepared to move with the rest of the product line if the demand is there. I truly believe sooner or later fishermen are going to accept this technology, probably to the point where it's going to be in high demand. "
Rampageous: Is Rampage on the leading edge of this technology?
Martens: "When it comes to the sport fishing boat market, I think you can say we're one of the leaders in applying this technology to an offshore fishing boat."
Rampageous: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us to answer our questions and share the 'behind the scenes happenings ' with all the Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts customers. We look forward to hearing from Tony again in our next issue of the Rampageous.