The True Story...Four-stroke versus E-TEC Two-stroke

In the Beginning

The story begins in the mid 1990s when the EPA decided it was time that outboard motor companies start to clean up the exhaust emissions of their motors.

At the time Evinrude and Mercury were the only major manufacturers of two stroke engines. The time frame the EPA gave was going to be a challenge to both companies.

Mercury decided to partner with Yamaha, (they were already building some smaller models for Merc.). Evinrude/Johnson contracted with Suzuki to build a limited line up of engines.

That cooperation with four-cycle Japanese made outboards along with a very vigorous advertising campaign by Yamaha Corp. started to turn the consumer’s perception that four-cycle outboard motors were going to be the only type of engine available. Incorrect reporting by some national boating and fishing magazines added fuel to the incorrect perception.

The less than spectacular performance of the early model “Orbital Technology” Mercury engines and the disappointing reliability of the early model “Ficht” Evinrude and Johnson motors did nothing but fan the flames of the mistaken perception that four stroke was the only technology of the future.

Along Comes Bombardier Recreational Products

Outboard Marine Corp. the parent company of Evinrude/Johnson along with many very well known boat manufacturers were struggling with management problems and financial issues.

On December 21st 2000 OMC filed for bankruptcy.

In mid March 2001 Bombardier Corp. Owner of such well respected brands as SkiDoo snowmobiles, SeaDoo sport boats, Rotax engines, CanAm ATVs and Spider Three Wheeled Sport Cycles purchased the assets of the outboard engine portion of OMC. Swiftly BRP started making huge changes in the structure of the outboard builder. They closed older plants and scrapped some of the older manufacturing processes that were causing some of the reliability issues Evinrude/Johnson were having. They moved into a massive building in Sturtevant Wisconsin and soon made it the World Headquarters of BRP.

In the spring of 2004 Evinrude introduced the E-TEC fuel injected engine. From a dealer standpoint the engine was instantly the best technology we had ever seen. A computer controlled fuel injection system that delivered amazing fuel efficiency, instant throttle response, smooth quiet performance, and unparalleled hydrocarbon emissions. “What a concept”!!!

The Mistaken Perception

As Japanese engine builders continued their strategy to reinforce that they were making the smoothest, quietest, cleanest, and most fuel-efficient engines available. Evinrude was actually doing it rather than talking about it.

Fact: Not all four-stroke engines are fuel-efficient. Only fuel injected engines are.
Carbureted four-cycle motors are NOT any more efficient than carbureted two strokes.

Fact: Four cycle engines are not the cleanest motors available.
Evinrude E-TEC motors are up to 85% cleaner in carbon monoxide emissions than ANY four-stroke.

Fact: Based on independent research by leading consumer groups there is virtually no difference in full throttle sound decibel measurements of ANY engine.

Fact: The smooth vibration free running characteristics of E-TEC engines rival ANY four-cycle large horse power motor and far surpass ALL small sized engines.

Are You Getting What You are Paying for?

Motor manufacturers have always used a “model year designator” to tell us what year the motor is. Usually it was a simple code to identify the year of the motor.

Recently some companies, (notably Mercury and Yamaha) have stopped using that system. The simple reason is, from a builder’s standpoint they no longer have to identify their engines as a particular model year. That means they can build as many engines as they want at a particular time without the fear of over-building and having surplus inventory. Now that is great for THEM because they don’t have to come up with a way of selling non-current model engines without discounting them. Not so great for you for several reasons.

  1. If lets say they have some sizes of motors left in factory inventory, with their system they just carry the inventory over to the next year. And sell it as a new model at the new higher price.
  2. Now the dealer has some of that inventory and it does not sell in the year it was made. He can simply carry it over and sell it to you as new model next year, AT THE NEW HIGHER PRICE.
  3. Other than the higher price you wonder, how does that affect me? Lets say it is the spring of 2008 you bought what you believe is a new current year engine. A couple years have passed and you decide to purchase a new motor. For one reason or another you decide to buy from a different dealer. He checks your engine discovers it was made in 2007 and quotes you the trade value based on 2007 build date. Now you are getting 2007 value for what you thought was a 2008 motor. You just got screwed out of one-year trade value because the first dealer sold you a one-year-old motor for new price. Nice to be that dealer Huh! Imagine if you traded with the same dealer on the second engine and he did the same thing he did the first time. Now the year is 2011 and you trade with a different dealer, now you just got screwed by the original dealer AGAIN.
  4. Evinrude uses a model year code. It is fairly easy to read and tells you right away you are getting what you pay for. Plus if you are buying a non-current model year we have to tell you that. And you will be paying less for the motor than you would if it were a new model year. Great for YOU instead of that not so scrupulous dealer. Just another reason to buy EVINRUDE.

The model year code for all Evinrude and Johnson engines made since 1980:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 
You can look at your model number and find the year of your engine based on the above code. For example, you have model number E150DPLSU that will tell you that your engine is an Evinrude, 150hp, in this case D is direct fuel injection, P means power trim/tilt, L designates long (20”) shaft and the SU is the model year 2007. A very simple way to see you are getting what you pay for.

The Final Truth

Now that we know that Evinrude E-TEC motors meet and exceed all consumer expectations when it comes to Fuel Efficiency, Smooth Running, Quiet Operation and Clean Burning, add the fact that Evinrude E-TEC engines are much LIGHTER in weight and much more POWERFUL than any four-stroke plus cost much less to maintain than ANY four-cycle. That is THREE more reasons to buy an Evinrude E-TEC engine over ANY four-cycle bran

If You Don’t Read Any of the Above Commentary READ THIS

Across the board Evinrude E-TEC engines are as Quiet, Cleaner, Smoother, and in most cases More Fuel Efficient, More Powerful, Lighter, and Less Expensive to maintain than ANY four-cycle engine in this country, Period. Read the facts printed in BLUE in the previous section titled “The Mistaken Perception” .

Four stroke motors develop power every other revolution of the crankshaft. Evinrude E-TEC two strokes develop power on EVERY revolution hence much more power. It is an irrefutable fact that Evinrude is more powerful. More power means smaller horsepower on a boat to perform the same as the bigger heavier less powerful four-cycle.

Less weight uses less gasoline to run the boat and tow the boat.

Also look closely at the California Air Resources Board “Star” rating on the motor you are considering. ALL Evinrude E-TEC engines are Three Star rated. But not all four-strokes are. The less Stars the less efficient. And do yourself a favor and read the section “Are you getting what you pay for?” above.

The goal of this commentary was to try to make you a more informed consumer. Let you know there is more to choose from than you may be lead to believe.

Four-cycle engines are good but Evinrude E-TEC is better in virtually all categories. The information written here is the opinion of the writer based on facts known at the time of the writing. If you feel I have made an error or can show I am wrong in the facts I have spoken please feel free to contact me.

Rick Karr Sr. Owner