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New Emission Standards Likely to Put Small Engine Builders Out of Business

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Old 04-24-2007, 01:01 AM
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Default New Emission Standards Likely to Put Small Engine Builders Out of Business

By now, many of you probably received an email from OSO regarding upcoming emission standards in 2009. The California Air Resources Board originally exempted engines with 500 horsepower or more from the regulations. According to an amendment adopted on Dec. 12, 2006, the 500 horsepower limit was eliminated, meaning all engines would be subject to the standards. The only company I could see standing after this would be Mercury Marine.

How could this happen you say? Well, the following is just my opinion, and nothing more than that. When the emission regulations were originally proposed, I determined that the emissions inventory reported by CARB was bogus. By their numbers, there would have to be a boat every 30 feet off the Southern California shoreline! I called the National Marine Manufacturer Association to give them the heads up. I might have well have been calling Mars, because they didn't even seem to know such regulations were coming. Worse, they didn't seem to care.

I called several small performance engine manufacturers, and spoke to their owners to give them the grim news. It didn't faze them in the least. They just didn't seem to be able to comprehend anything a few years in the future.

After that I gave up. If these people were that apathetic, then they will get what they deserve. And are they now!

The small engine builders will not be able to afford the emissions durability testing, nor will the aftermarket parts manufacturers, with such small production volumes. Even Mercury Marine will have to charge a fortune to cover certification costs on the low volume of Mercury Racing branded engines put in pleasure boats. Don't think for a second that these standards are static, and CARB isn't going to tighten the regulations as far as they can either, which costs more money. CARB doesn't care about business. They don't care about jobs. They have one thing in mind, and that's emission controls, and making their organization bigger and more powerful by regulating anything and everything..

So when the next set of regulations come out, saying that you have to bring your boat in for an emissions inspection every two years, don't say I didn't tell you so. Everyone has a choice. You can do what the engine builders did, and say nothing, or you can get up off your butts and speak up now. But you better move fast, because I guarantee you that CARB looks at the boating industry and boaters now as a bunch of unsophisticated sheep waiting to be slaughtered.

And for those who think this will not affect them, because they don't live in California, I'm sure everyone thought the same thing in 1965 about auto emissions standards. The Federal EPA has already indicated they adobt the California standards.

Reference: CARB Regulations

Michael

Last edited by Michael1; 04-24-2007 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 04-24-2007, 08:01 AM
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Why are they spending their time worrying about boats?? Come on, there aren't enough boats to affect anything except their owners wallets. Maybe they should spend time on issues that really matter. These "representatives" should be identified by name, letters sent, and votes denied. Does California have a website showing who voted for a certail bill?
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Old 04-24-2007, 09:26 AM
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Obviously there is enough boats because emission controls appeared on 2 and 4 stroke outboards as well as PWCs.
Next step is a federal noise limit on exhaust systems. No more open pipes.
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Old 04-24-2007, 09:30 AM
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SEMA has been very instramental in keeping the automotive afttermarket alive. I wonder if how many marine builders are SEMA members and if they are looking for support from them.

The same thing is happening in the motorcycle industry. They will eventually target the off road bikes too. Then your lawn mower, weed wacker, chain saw, anything with an engine!
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Old 04-24-2007, 12:13 PM
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"...I'm sure everything thought the same thing in 1965 about auto emissions standards."

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Muscle cars in the lates 60' and very early 70's had wonderful motors such as 350 cid 370 hp SBC, 427 cid 435 hp BBC... And yes, emissions (and insurance...) killed these wonderful beasts to be replaced by some very disaapointing hardware.

And what are we left with decades later? Smaller, lighter motors that put out rear wheel horspower and torque that far exceeds the motors of by-gone years. Add greatly reduced emissions, greatly improved fuel economy, improved driveability, less noise... And yep, today's high performance automobile motors will bring a smile to any gear head with a pulse.

My hope is that we learn from the past and influence legislation in such a way as to achieve realistic objectives and not take decades to recover! To some extent, this has been accomplished with PWC. Some of today's emmissions compliant PWC simply stomp machines that are little more than several years old and have far worse emissions.

Somewhere between the desires of gear heads (like me!) and the tree huggers (like my brother!) lies common ground we all can, and should, accept.

As for stuffing catalytic convertors under the hatch of my 35' go-fast with twin BBC's with blowers? Sends shutters down my spine!
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Old 04-24-2007, 12:56 PM
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I wouldn't worry about it too much. It seems unenforcable to me. What are they going to do, get in the water while I fire up my engine so they can stick a sniffer up the donkey **** exhaust??? Think about it!!!

Maybe it will go to manufacurers of new engines (like Mercury). There will always be loophole and grandfather clauses IMHO.
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Old 04-24-2007, 01:13 PM
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Just California and boats in the same sentence sends chivers down my spine. I think that California is doing a good job of shooting themselves in the foot. I have heard that California is basically in its own recession right now. More and more companies are just moving and so are the people. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people moving to Texas from California.

Also sounds like this whole thing could be very good for the used boat market.
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Old 04-24-2007, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by OldSchool View Post
...will always be loophole and grandfather clauses...
That's what I would imagine. Just like if you were to rebuild your small block in your 1968 SS Camaro, nobody is going to force you to fit catalytic converters to it, nor will they make you change out the lab belts to shoulder harness style seat belts.

I would imagine this is generally going to only affect new engines in new boats and you better believe Mercury has already started the development of the necessary equipment needed in order to pass emissions. Unlike high performance outboards, which are dying fast, high performance big blocks in high dollar offshore boats is still a very strong market for the Mercury Racing division.
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:28 PM
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Monetarily, how will it impact small manufacturers?

How much will these tests cost?

I am curious because I remember when OBD2 was coming out in cars and everyone said it was the death of the aftermarket. Far from it.

That doesn't mean that we should be complacent about this, and I do agree with informing SEMA. They are very active in terms of legislation and successfully shot down an "anti-modification" law in Ontario about 18 months ago. Well worth pursuing.
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:43 PM
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There is a big difference between the automobile industry, and even the outboard and PWC industry, and the performance boat industry. The former have orders of magnitude higher volumes to amortize emission control development. It costs GM literally millions of dollars per engine just to certify it. Do you think specialty engine builders like JC Performance, or Teague Marine have the money to run emissions development and durability tests given the handful of engines they produce a year?

As far as it being unenforceable, not true. All they have to do is require an emissions test before you can register your boat for the year.

As far as CARB regulating things like offroad motorcycles, lawn mowers and leaf blowers - it's already being done.

Perhaps because I worked in the auto industry, I have a different viewpoint of how miserable the government can make your life. Yes, the auto industry recovered, but look how long it took, decades. I feel that the boating industry is completely asleep at the wheel, and a lot of people will wake up one day to find out they have been put out of business.

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