Ski-Doo’s parent company Bombardier Recreational Production (BRP) shocked the marine market this week, announcing that it is discontinuing its Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard marine engine lineup to shift its marine focus entirely to boat making.
The two-stroke outboard engines use the same sort of E-TEC direct-injection technology that has been found in Ski-Doo two-stroke snowmobiles for the past dozen years. In fact, the E-TEC technology was first unveiled on an outboard engine in February of 2003 at the Miami Boat Show, which we attended on behalf of our sister publication, Boating Industry magazine, which offers more insight on this week’s news here. Evinrude engines currently range in horsepower from 3.5 to 300. BRP had acquired the Evinrude and Johnson brands three years earlier out of the wreckage of former parent company Outboard Marine Corporation’s (OMC) bankruptcy. Johnson was dropped in 2007.
E-TEC technology first appeared in a snowmobile in January 2008 in an early-release 2009 MX Z TNT 600 H.O. E-TEC. The impact of the clean-burning, smooth-running, efficient technology on the snowmobile market has been huge – allowing Ski-Doo to approach 50 percent marketshare and really prove to regulators that two-strokes engines can meet stringent emissions standards. However, its acceptance has been notably lower in the outboard marine market, where four-stroke engines have gained a stronger foothold and winning-back customers with a clean-burning two-stroke has proved to be a bigger challenge.
Still, with its success in snow, there’s no reason to think that BRP would move away from E-TEC in snowmobiles, and that was backed up by Ski-Doo officials.
In a reply to an email from Snow Goer, Ski-Doo PR and media relations manager Steve Cowing reiterated BRP’s dedication to E-TEC technology in its sleds. “This decision has no impact on our E-TEC engines for Ski-Doo snowmobiles,” Cowing stated. “E-TEC is an excellent technology that delivers high performance and durability in even the harshest of conditions. Ski-Doo riders should expect to see the same high commitment to E-TEC innovation moving forward.”
The outboard engine move will affect a lot of workers in Wisconsin, however, who work at the Evinrude factory in Sturtevant, as well as others involved in the development, manufacturing, marketing, sales and other functions that were critical to the Evinrude brand.
Here’s the full press release from BRP (below)
BRP Advances Marine Strategy by Focusing on Boats and New Technologies
Company discontinues the manufacturing of outboard engines and agrees with market leader Mercury Marine to support boat packages.
BRP (TSX: DOO; NASDAQ: DOOO) announced today it has re-oriented its marine business by focusing on the growth of its boat brands with new technology and innovative marine products. We will discontinue production of Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines. Our Sturtevant, WI, facility, will be repurposed for new projects to pursue our plan to provide consumers with an unparalleled experience on the water.
We remain committed to our Buy, Build, Transform Marine strategy which has been underway since 2018 with the acquisition of Alumacraft and Manitou boat companies in the U.S., followed by the acquisition of Australian boat manufacturer Telwater in 2019.
“Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately. This business segment had already been facing some challenges and the impact from the current context has forced our hand,” said José Boisjoli, president and CEO of BRP.
“We will concentrate our efforts on new and innovative technologies and on the development of our boat companies, where we continue to see a lot of potential to transform the on-water experience for consumers,” he added.
Discontinuing outboard engine business and signing an agreement with Mercury Marine
Following our decision to discontinue E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines, we have signed an agreement with market leader Mercury Marine to support boat packages and continue to supply outboard engines to our boat brands.
We will continue to supply customers and our dealer network service parts and will honour our manufacturer limited warranties, plus offer select programs to manage inventory. These decisions will impact 650 employees globally.
Pursuing new opportunities within Build and Transform phases of strategy
With this announcement, BRP will be positioned to expand its presence in the pontoon and aluminum fishing markets through technologically advanced solutions. We will leverage our track record of ingenuity through our R&D resources to enhance the boating experience with unique new marine products, such as the next generation of engine technology with Project Ghost and the next generation of pontoons with Project M, code names for new products we expect to transform the industry.
Maximizing operational and functional efficiencies
Lastly, we will consolidate Alumacraft operations from two sites to one. All Alumacraft operations will be transferred to St Peter, Minnesota, and our site in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, will be permanently closed. In addition, we want to upgrade the boat production facilities to reorganize manufacturing sites and apply the modularity model used elsewhere.
This move is designed to enhance productivity and efficiency and to allow us to respond with even more agility to demand.