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This Month's Issue:

  • Boating industry affiliations
  • F&I providers predict growth in 2003
  • Marina Product Focus

  • International News Daily


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    Manufacturing & Fabrication - 10/18/2002 12:32:50 PM

    Industry facing 115-hp 4-stroke shortage
    United States

    Increased demand for 115-horsepower (hp) 4-stroke engines has resulted in a shortage of that particular engine and has marine engine builders cautiously watching inventory supplies and delivery capabilities.

    "It is a fact that that model [115-hp] in particular is in short supply globally," said Tom Mielke, corporate communications director for Mercury Marine, in a 10 October interview with BIIOnline. Yamaha supplies Mercury with 115 4-strokes.

    "We're shipping more 115s than ever before," said Ben Speciale, general manager of operations and planning for Yamaha in an interview with BIIOnline on Wednesday, 9 September. "There's a lot of demand for 115 4-strokes industry-wide."

    Barry Zoll, OEM sales manager for Honda Marine, in an interview with BIIOnline on 16 October, also agreed that heavy demand has left low inventories of the 115-hp 4-stroke engine.

    "There may be some spot shortages of 115s now," said Zoll. "We sold out of our 115s in early summer."

    Larry Vandiver, director of marketing for Suzuki, said in an 11 October interview with BIIOnline that the first year the company introduced its 115-hp 4-stroke, it wasn't prepared for the popularity, and it caught the company a little off guard.

    Suzuki recently attributed its growth over the past year in part to sales of its 115-hp 4-stroke engines. (See BIIOnline article Suzuki attributes growth to 4-stroke popularity.)

    Delivery and distribution demands

    To maintain inventory levels as best they can, the companies said they are constantly monitoring shipments, delivery schedules, inventory supplies and dealer sales.

    "We do have a formal forecasting system in place with our major accounts where we try to take in to account their needs and our ability to supply," said Mielke.

    Additionally, Mielke noted that demand was still exceeding his company's schedule, leading him to speculate that it will be "a number of months" before supplies level off industry-wide.

    Taking into account some holdups in deliveries due to the recent West Coast longshoremen's strike, with Honda's new plant online and responding to market demands, Zoll reported that in 4-6 weeks his company's supply of 115-hp 4-stroke engines "will be fine."

    "Inventory and production is something we study every day," said Vandiver, noting that Suzuki recently invested a lot of money in a new computer monitoring system. "Shortages have not existed for us, we do maintain and watch very closely dealer inventory and turnover to make sure inventory levels are remaining correct. We're not over-inventoried, we're not under-inventoried."

    Meanwhile, Yamaha is developing a new supply chain management computer system expected to be launched in spring 2003, which it said will help the company better respond to changes in consumer demand. (See BIIOnline article Yamaha invests over US$20 million in computer system.)

    Incentives for alternatives

    To fill in the gaps where shortages exist, some engine manufacturers are offering alternative engine packages for boats.

    Mercury, for example, is offering its 115- and 125-hp 2-strokes and the 135 Optimax in place of the 115 4-stroke, along with other incentives, according to Mielke.

    Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Manufacturer's Association of America (MRAA), downplayed the impact of shortage in the coming months in an interview with BIIOnline on 11 October.

    "That side of the industry is down," said Keeter. "Add the fall when sales are down anyway and the economy, demand is down. Come the boat shows in January, we may hear something different."

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    — Jack Urso
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