Engineers at BRP were tasked with increasing the deck space on its pontoon and fish boats. They started by creating a new type of engine.
You'll inevitably start seeing the new Rotax Outboard Engine on the water, so consider this your heads-up, because there's nothing else like it out there. At first glance, the initial thought is it must be some new sterndrive engine because it's mostly underwater. Yet the Rotax is very much an outboard engine, but one with "stealth technology," as BRP describes the hidden, quiet, and efficient direct-injection two stroke outboards available in 115- and 150-hp.
"This is a revolutionary product that's designed to not be seen or felt," James Heintz, director of product strategy, told dealers this summer at BRP new product launch. Sound is muffled by a combination of water, soundproofing within the engine, and the deck that stretches over the cowling.
But what is it? Essentially, it's a compressed outboard with low-profile cowling that's elongated (to fit a horizontal powerhead), with a short 25-inch lower unit. The front is aluminum casting paired with a thermoplastic bucket-shaped cowling. The different materials are joined by 15 shoulder screws around the perimeter. Extensive testing revealed the Rotax is waterproof, but because servicing entails leak-testing, BRP says this is not a DIY or repowering project at this time.
"The idea behind the Rotax Outboard was reimagining what we could do with the stern of a pontoon boat," explains Paul Klug, BRP's marine propulsion project manager. "The result is a far quieter outboard with improved visibility astern and room for a full-beam swim platform."
BRP calls this reclaimed deck space the MAX Deck, which is integrated on BRP's Manitou pontoon and Alumacraft fishing boat lines. Both boat lines have models that have been redesigned to provide more functionality and space, especially when paired the Rotax engine and MAX Deck.
"The Manitou Cruise and Explore models come in 20- and 26-foot length, respectively, with a new design that unlocks 38 square feet of space that doesn't exist on any other pontoon," Klug says. The Alumacraft Competitor and Trophy models, when powered by the Rotax Outboard Engine with MAX deck, provides an additional 24 square feet of uninterrupted space. "That opens up more space, and the customer gets more boat for their money."
The Rotax Outboard comes standard with power steering and electronic shifting. To get a sense of how the new engine benefits boat design, check out this new video from Alumacraft touting the complete boat and engine package.