top of page

5 Engines Primed to Disrupt the Marketplace in 2024

Boaters love engines. For as long as we've been writing about boating, one thing has been consistent: few things garner as much interest, or as much scrutiny, as a new engine.

On one hand, it's very reasonable. Boats, unlike cars, are more dependent upon their power source for both transportation and safety. If your car breaks down on the interstate, you can have a tow truck there in a matter of minutes. If your boat breaks down while you're miles from land, you may very well find yourself in a survival situation. On the other hand, boaters can be very scrutinous with engines. Investigation of the tiniest details is par for the course, even while sometimes overlooking important details like the cubic space of the galley fridge or the extent of our docking skills. It can be amusing to watch from the safe haven of the media, but I'll bet it's a real thorn in the side for engine builders. Boaters want to know about their engines, and rightly so.

The good news is, manufacturers have been steadily improving their products. Fuel mileage and fuel economy have both been drastically improved over the last decade. The same goes for engine maintenance, which is a fraction of what it once was. On top of that, speeds and torque are increasing while breakdowns are decreasing, which means better performance without the reliability issues that have dogged engine builders in years past.

2024 is shaping up to be an influential year in the engine game. All the big players have made keynote advancements that will affect industry trends over the next 3-5 years. Several underdogs have stepped up, too. Their new technologies are closing the gap across the industry, while at the same time putting pressure on everyone to keep innovating.

Here are five engines that are primed to disrupt the market in 2024.

1) Yamaha Hydrogen Outboard

It shouldn't be a surprise to see this one at the top of the list. Yamaha is unquestionably among the top three engine builders in the world, if not the top two, so their somewhat diminished presence since 2020 had people wondering if the industry figurehead was falling behind. It turns out, Yamaha wasn't idle at all. Far from it. They made a massive investment in hydrogen propulsion, which they unveiled to an incredible response at the recent Miami International Boat Show. Their hydrogen outboard prototype uses a 5.6L V8 powerhead attached to a series of hydrogen fuel tanks embedded beneath the deck. It's in the early stages of course, but Yamaha was smart to partner with Roush Performance and Regulator Boats to fine-tune their impressive invention. Details are scarce on the marine version thus far, but Yamaha also partnered with Lexus on an automotive version that produced 450 hp at 6800 rpm and 540 Nm of torque at 3600 RPM. Now, cars on the road have less resistance than boats in the water, mind you, so the marine version won't have quite that output but that's a very strong starting point.

2) Cox Marine 350 HP Diesel

Britain's Cox Marine is steadily closing the gap between traditional gas-powered outboard and diesel alternatives, and it's time for the industry to take notice. The company has been on a major upswing in recent months, having both added rigging and joystick steering for their existing 300 horsepower engine while also setting a diesel outboard speed record in December 2023. The 300 hp platform has already gained enough momentum that it was recently announced as the outboard of choice for the Fort Lauderdale, Florida police department. Now they've upped the ante to 350 hp with a new V8 powerhead that will find a home on the transoms of increasingly larger boats.

“Believing there had to be a better way was the thought that inspired our pioneering journey to develop a lightweight outboard powered by alternative fuel options to gasoline, which meant not having to compromise on what is important," said Gavin Wesson, CEO of Cox Marine at the launch.

Mission accomplished. The new 350 generates 776 lb ft of torque at 2600 RPM compared to 707 lb ft of torque on the existing 300 hp platform. Both engines offer roughly a 30% improvement in fuel economy compared to a similarly sized gas-powered outboard.

We haven't seen the finalized 350 yet, but an inside look at the CX0300 shows you exactly how far diesel outboards have come in recent years:

3) Honda 350 HP V8 Outboard

It's been a few years since Honda made significant changes to their engines, which had consumers wondering why a company so beloved for their innovation and reliability was sitting idle. While other manufacturers were pressing forward, Honda remained steadfast. But that pause is now over with Honda's announcement of their first-ever 350 horsepower V8 outboard. Does it put them on par with other industry players in terms of horsepower? No, but it doesn't have to. Honda has a solid and consistent market share, and increasing their horsepower to 350 means more boats will become available to Honda outboards. More boats from more manufacturers means more sales, and with one of the industry's strongest reputations backing them, it would be hard to see this as anything but a smart move. The sleek new BF350 targets boats in the 25-foot and larger range by offering a broader, flatter torque curve. Honda also says it will have smoother power delivery throughout the engine’s operating range, improved ergonomic controls, excellent fuel efficiency, greater reliability, plus improved ease-of-use, maintenance, and ownership. Those are all good things from a company known for delivering a reliable product.

It appears Honda might be turning over a new leaf. Not only are they also branching out into their own line of boats, they've also let it be known they have very ambitious plans for the future that go far beyond simply upping their horsepower. 2024 and beyond looks bright.

4) Vision Marine E-Motion 180

You knew an electric motor would be on this list, and there's no better candidate than the E-Motion 180 from Vision Marine. While nearly every engine manufacturer has made significant investments into electric motors, no one has reached the plateaus set by Canada's Vision Marine. They were the first to reach 180 horsepower with their E-Motion 180 outboard, and they set the electric speed record at Lake of the Ozarks with a staggering 116 mph run. The E-Motion 180 is quickly getting scooped up to be used by other companies thanks to a partnership with Groupe Beneteau, which also owns brands like Jeanneau, Wellcraft, and Scarab, so you might see the 180 popping up in other places soon. The powerful electric outboard not only propelled an S2 Powerboats catamaran to 116 mph, it's also being used on the Four Winns H2 bowrider.

Vision Marine isn't just about horsepower though. The company's advanced tech is proving its capability across multiple fronts, like attempting the electric boating distance record and applying their zero emissions framework towards building a 100% recyclable boat.

5) Mercury Racing 500R

There's still something to be said for the almighty horsepower of a gas-powered outboard. No one does it like Mercury, which makes the 500R potentially one of the most disruptive outboards on the market in a decade. What boaters need to understand is that while the 'R' designation stands for 'Racing,' the 500R has such sought-after tech that it's being used by all sorts of boat brands for use on their transoms. Take one walk around Miami or Fort Lauderdale and you'll see what we mean. Some of the best real-life performance-backed data on the 500R comes from Mike Howe from Howe2Live, who attempted to set the speed record from New York City to Miami. Yes, you can call it 'racing,' but it's also what two non-racers can do over a weekend (with a budget). The 500R features a 4.6-liter 64-degree V8 FourStroke powerhead boosted by an exclusive Mercury Racing supercharger. It has10% more torque than its smaller counterpart the 450R, and it weighs a meager 720 lbs, which means an incredible horsepower to weight ratio. Mike from Howe2Live says it best, "the biggest difference is in the acceleration, and that's the low inertia flywheel and the bigger throttle body. You can do a lot of work on it and it'll do a lot for you."

Let Mercury explain:

5,114 views0 comments


bottom of page