Most of the news releases I get each week are what I call “skim and deletes.” I scan them quickly, determine their news value—then almost invariably delete them.
A recent one from Volvo Penta was different. It announced that Volvo Penta was exiting the low-horsepower, carbureted market. From 2012 on, it read, Volvo Penta’s base engine will be the fuel-injected 200-horsepower 4.3 Gi. All engines will feature multiport fuel injection, electronic throttle control, and advanced engine monitoring systems.
“For many years, a low-horsepower engine was a boater’s first experience with a sterndrive boat,” said Clint Moore, President and CEO of Volvo Penta of the Americas in the release. “Times have changed. As with today’s car buyers, a new boater is more knowledgeable than ever before, with understandably high expectations. We believe those expectations are only met by higher-horsepower, more technically sophisticated engines. We build the engines that are designed to keep people in boating.”
The move away from carbureted engines is long overdue, and I think we’ll see other companies follow suit. At least I hope we do.
Marine engine companies no longer need to create their own EFI systems because fuel injection technology is so abundant. They only need to adapt what already exists, and there is enough sales volume in the marine market to justify it. EFI is superior in every way to a carburetor, from drivability, reliable starts and fuel economy, to easier maintenance and winterization—all of which create a happier customer. And, perhaps, repeat customers. What’s not to like about a technology investment like that?
I still think there’s a market for the diminutive 3.0-liter four-cylinder that has been used in a litany of runabouts over the years, but it, too, should be fuel-injected, not carbureted.
“Our decision to exit the low-horsepower, carbureted engine market allowed our engineers to focus their energy on creating state-of-the-art propulsion packages designed to deliver great boating experiences, even at the entry level,” Moore said.
Every boater deserves a great experience, especially at the entry level. Getting rid of carburetors is a long-overdue step in the right direction.