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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: PCM, Honda, Mercury and MerCruiser Rank Highest in Marine Engine Customer Satisfaction

Boat Owners Report Fewer Engine-Related Problems

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Feb. 16 -- PCM, Honda, Mercury and MerCruiser rank highest in customer satisfaction in four engine segments in the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Marine Engine Competitive Information Study(SM) released today.

With impressive improvements in both product satisfaction and quality, Mercury Marine ranks highest in two of four engine segments. Mercury ranks highest in the direct-injected (DI) two-stroke outboard segment, and Mercury MerCruiser ranks highest in the EFI sterndrive segment.

Honda ranks highest in the electronic fuel-injected (EFI) four-stroke outboard segment for a second consecutive year, while Pleasurecraft Engine Group (PCM) ranks highest in the EFI inboard engine segment.

"Mercury has worked hard to focus on improving its product quality and customer service, and it shows," said Eric Sorensen, director of the marine practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Mercury's success this year in these two engine segments shows that positive change happens when companies are serious about both listening and decisively responding to their customers."

Overall customer satisfaction with marine engines is determined based on performance in six factors: starting ease, quietness at cruise, reliability, fuel economy, shifting smoothness and lack of engine fumes.

EFI Inboard segment

PCM engines make substantial year-over-year improvements in both quality and customer satisfaction to rank highest among EFI inboards with an index score of 924 on a 1,000-point scale, which is the highest score in the study. PCM scores well in each of the six engine factors. PCM owners report experiencing an average of just 25.0 problems per 100 (PP100) engines compared to the EFI inboard segment average of 51.6 PP100.

Indmar follows PCM in the segment rankings.

Four-stroke EFI Outboard segment

Honda ranks highest for a second consecutive year among EFI four-stroke outboards with an index score of 913. Honda owners report very high satisfaction with the quietness of the engine at cruising speed and engine reliability. Honda records 38.4 PP100 compared to the segment average of 64.4.

Yamaha follows Honda in the EFI four-stroke outboard engine segment rankings.

Two-stroke DI Outboard segment

Mercury's DI engines improve substantially to rank highest in customer satisfaction among two-stroke outboards, receiving an index score of 893. Mercury performs particularly well in the segment in both quality and customer satisfaction, especially with their larger models (225 hp or more).

Yamaha follows Mercury in the DI two-stroke segment with very comparable quality and just slightly lower satisfaction ratings.

EFI Sterndrive segment

MerCruiser EFI engines rank highest among sterndrives with a score of 847. MerCruiser, which had reported improvements in both its transmissions and lower units, receives high ratings from owners for both quality and customer satisfaction.


Overall, boat owners report fewer engine-related problems compared to the 2005 study. The study finds a dramatic decrease in problems among EFI sterndrive engines, dropping from an average of 97.7 PP100 in 2005 to 85.1 in 2006. While outboard engines as a whole experience an improvement in quality, EFI four-stroke outboards record 5.3 fewer problems per 100 engines from 2005.

The study also finds customer satisfaction remains highest with EFI inboards, followed closely by EFI four-stroke outboards and DI two-stroke outboards. Customer satisfaction remains lowest for EFI sterndrives, which primarily power runabouts and express cruisers.

For example, outboard-powered coastal fishing, pontoon and bass boats with EFI four-stroke outboards and DI two-stroke outboards get a boost in engine and propulsion attributes. On the other hand, carbureted engines, whether outboard, sterndrive or inboard, are rated lower by comparison, negatively impacting owner satisfaction with the overall boating experience.

"The EFI four-stroke segment is still the benchmark of the outboard industry in terms of quality and satisfaction," said Sorensen. "From top to bottom, there are some outstanding engines being produced in this segment. However, the brands in the DI two-stroke segment have made some substantial improvements in 2005 and they are clearly producing some of the best engines in the industry. We also see a change in that carbureted four-strokes no longer outperform EFI two-stroke outboards as a result of EFI two-strokes improving and carbureted four-stroke engines declining. The gap between the two four-stroke technologies is now the widest we have seen."

Although the two-stroke DI and four-stroke EFI engines both offer very high performance, they each serve unique needs in the boating industry.

"The EFI four-stroke outboards are rated very high for their quietness, low emissions and reliability, making them a good choice for owners who put a premium on those qualities," said Sorensen. "Owners of DI two-stroke outboards, including many bass boat owners, value those attributes but are also placing a lot of importance on strong acceleration and top speed, which is what the DIs deliver."

While owners of boats in all three engine classes report fewer problems compared to 2005, only outboard engines experience an improvement in customer satisfaction. Inboards and sterndrives have declined slightly in satisfaction.

"In a number of ways, manufacturers have to dig deeper into their engineering toolboxes to find ways to make gains in customer satisfaction," said Sorensen. "The industry has peaked, at least temporarily, and it will take renewed efforts to again move the competitive bar higher. With the percentage of first-time boat buyers now declining, it's very important to first attract and then keep people in boating, and part of the solution is producing the finest possible engines."

The 2006 Marine Engine Competitive Information Study is based on responses from 12,255 owners who registered a new boat between June 2004 and May 2005. Eleven brands of outboard, sterndrive and gas inboard marine engines are included in the study.

  EFI Inboard Engine Segment Ranking
  (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

  Manufacturer                                      Index Score
  PCM                                                   924
  EFI Inboard Segment Average                           894
  Indmar                                                890

  Four-Stroke EFI Outboard Engine Segment Ranking
  (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

  Manufacturer                                      Index Score
  Honda                                                 913
  Yamaha                                                900
  Four-Stroke EFI Outboard                              891
  Segment Average
  Johnson                                               884
  Mercury                                               869

  Two-Stroke DI Outboard Engine Segment Ranking
  (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

  Manufacturer                                      Index Score
  Mercury                                               893
  Two-Stroke DI Outboard                                881
  Segment Average
  Yamaha                                                875
  Evinrude                                              870

  EFI Sterndrive Engine Segment Ranking
  (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

  Manufacturer                                      Index Score
  MerCruiser                                            847
  EFI Sterndrive Segment Average                        845
  Volvo Penta                                           841

  A PDF version of this ranking chart is available at: