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Mercury to Introduce Electric Outboards by 2023

By: Scott Way

Brunswick Corporation Sea Ray SLX-R 400e CES 2020
Brunswick Corporation with a Sea Ray SLX-R 400e at CES 2020

Brunswick Corporation held it's annual Investor's Day on May 10th and among the many highlights was confirmation that Mercury Marine has begun developing electric outboard engines. The company has set firm dates to launch 5 new electric product lines by 2023, including an initial launch of 4 electric outboards by the first quarter of 2023, with the first arriving sometime in 2022.

The announcement came during a discussion of the company's ACES strategy (Autonomy, Connectivity, Electrification, & Shared Access), which serves as the unifying framework for several of Brunswick's ongoing initiatives. ACES was major theme of the Investor's Day narrative and evidently will be a large part of the company's strategy going forward.

Chris Drees, president of Mercury Marine, confirmed the plans during his presentation to investors: "I’m really excited to announce a bold vision for the future of Mercury. We’ll launch five new electric outboard models by 2023. And we intend for Mercury to be the market leader in both conventional and electric marine propulsion by the end of that year. Mercury won’t be slowing down anytime soon."

More specifically, by 2023 Mercury and their Advanced Systems Group (ASG) will launch 5 electric propulsion products. Over the same time period, ASG also expects to have installed 15,000 advanced battery systems that replace internal combustion engine generators. The plan is to launch the new electric products across 4 different product segments. Indications are the first products will be focused on criteria ideal for electric propulsion- namely low speed cruising or shorter duration boating at high speeds.

The company's first foray into electrification came in 2020 with the release of the Fathom 1 power management system on the Sea Ray SLX-R 400e at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The Fathom 1 system is an industry-first lithium-ion battery pack capable of powering all of a boat's accessory systems. The high-capacity technology removes the need for gas powered generators by offering a longer lasting, quieter, and more eco-friendly solution for powering a boat's auxiliary systems.

Other indications are that Brunswick will use the recently acquired Freedom Boat Club as a testing grounds for new electric products. According to Drees, "We also believe that Freedom Boat Club, with its centrally managed fleets and well understood use cases, is the ideal operating model to support the introduction of electric marine products."

Other steps Brunswick is taking to expand their electrification efforts include appointing John Oenick as the Director of Enterprise Electrification. According to Brunswick CEO Dave Foulkes, “In this role, John will lead the enterprise technology strategy that supports our Division’s delivery of electrification solutions. John is part of a cohort of around 20 new employees with vast experience in electrification who have been hired by Brunswick over just the last six months.”

Oenick comes to Brunswick after 18 years with John Deere and Bombardier where his work focused on hybrid diesel engine development and electrified air intake systems. His portfolio also includes extensive work in powertrain development, power invertor development, and electric drive systems. The ACES strategy by Brunswick will see him focus on the expansion of electric propulsion within Brunswick and Mercury.

“Over the past few years, our company has rapidly grown our electrification capabilities through the 2018 acquisition of the Power Products portfolio of companies, focused on advanced battery, power-conversion and digital control technologies, and fully-integrated electrical systems for the marine and RV industries,” said Foulkes.

Brunswick has hired 40 specialists in electrification and autonomy within the last few months to accelerate the development of their electric initiatives. As products inch closer to the marketplace consumers can expect a growing list of electric options across Brunswick's portfolio beginning in 2022.

You can check out the full Brunswick's Investor Day video below:

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