Yamaha WaveRunners get generous power gains
Yamaha’s VX lineup of WaveRunners has motored to the top of sales charts for the past decade behind the strength of its MR-1 engine. For 2016, Yamaha Watercraft has introduced the all-new TR-1 High Output engine for the V1, V1 Sport, VX Deluxe, VX Cruiser and VX Limited WaveRunners.
The new three-cylinder engine is smaller and lighter while being more powerful than its one-liter, four-cylinder predecessor. And Yamaha designers have achieved their goals in dramatic fashion, with TR-1 coming in 40 percent smaller, 20 percent lighter in weight, and 13 percent more powerful than the previous engine.
Replacing an engine that powered more than 200,000 VX WaveRunner sales over the past 10 years was a formidable task, indeed.
“It was a big task to replace it, while at the same time keeping the Yamaha reliability,” Yamaha Watercraft Group product manager Scott Watkins told Powersports Business during a media event at the Ritz Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee in Georgia. “Smaller in size, lighter weight, and with better fuel economy and more power — all that equals more fun. And I’m happy to say we achieved all of that.”
The engine’s release into the select 2016 models was the result of collaboration between several facets of Yamaha, both from the Watercraft Group in Kennesaw, Ga., and at the company’s headquarters in Japan.
“It’s an incredible engine that will be around for quite awhile,” Watkins said.
Yamaha achieved the decrease in weight by eliminating a reduction gear, integrating the oil tank, attaching the ECU/air filter to the engine and using fewer parts. The result is quicker acceleration, higher top-end speeds, with better fuel economy and more fun for the rider, as Powersports Business experienced first-hand at the Georgia event.
With the overall weight decreased by about 60 pounds in the models with the new TR-1 engine, riders can expect to see impressive performance at the mid-range. And the TR-1’s horsepower gains were a quick way to turn heads from fellow boaters and riders on the water.
RiDE boosting sales
Both Yamaha and the industry overall were coming off impressive low-double-digit growth in 2014, due to an influx of new products, spurred by the Sea-Doo Spark. Through the first half of the year, the market continued to grow by about 3 percent. In fact, the VX and V1 are Yamaha’s top-selling models, and rank No. 2 and 3 in the PWC marketplace, respectively, for sales.
Those models also helped Yamaha dealers make WaveRunner sales progress in June, when the industry itself had seen about a 20 percent increase in sales compared to June 2014. Several factors pushed WaveRunner growth to 117 percent in the month of June vs. June 2014, likely due to the strength of the award-winning RiDE system that debuted in the 2015 lineup.
“Despite all the Sparks out there, we’re managing to maintain our market share, and RiDE is a big part of that,” Watkins said. “And part of that is the Yamaha brand and reliability that comes with the technology.”
Years in the making, the TR-1 engine evolved out of the Georgia offices, which has experienced growth of its own.
The Yamaha Watercraft Group design center, GKDI, which had been operating out of Japan, is moving to the Kennesaw area. GKDI has a decades-long relationship with Yamaha, and now will house an office within a mile of the Watercraft Group offices. The new neighbors figure to enhance speed to market for Yamaha products, among other benefits that come with more streamlined collaboration. The new GKDI office also likely will lead to advanced product developments over the next decade.