During a June press event at Volvo Penta's Krossholmen recreational marine testing facility, just west of Gothenburg, Sweden, the company unveiled a flurry of new products before international media.
Chief among the new items is Volvo Penta's new D8 diesel engine, available for both IPS and inboard shaft applications, expanding the company's offering to an even broader selection of power systems.
However, the new power options certainly weren't all that Volvo Penta had in store at the launch. The company also introduced joystick docking for inboard shaft engines (starting with the D8); a new Battery Management Solution; and an ‘e-Key Remote' that makes unlocking and starting a vessel much like that of an automobile. All of these systems are brought together by the company's electronic vessel control to provide boaters with an easy boating experience.
Volvo Penta's new 7.7L D8 engine will be offered in 550hp (D8-IPS700 or D8 550 (inboard)) and 600hp (D8-IPS800 or D8 600 (inboard)) versions.
The D8 IPS will be offered in twin and triple applications, and features a turbo and supercharger to deliver speeds between 20 to 40 knots. Volvo Penta has paired the D8 with its IPS 15 pod.
Comparatively, the D8 inboard, offered in twin applications, features a turbo (no supercharger) and a ZF standard gearbox. The D8 (550 to 600hp) fills a space in Volvo Penta's inboard lineup between the D6 (330 to 435hp) and D11 (625 to 725hp).
Both engines meet the stringent EPA Tier 3 and RCD Stage 2 emission standards.
On-water sea trials aboard a series of D8 IPS and D8 inboard powered yachts provided journalists a sample of the engine's performance and new features. One noteworthy enhancement was how little noise and vibration the engine produced while the vessels were underway. To achieve this, the company points to improvements made to the engine's common rail technology. Volvo Penta claims its new D8 is approximately three decibels quieter than its previous generation engines.
"The difference in noise level is one of the first things you notice,' says Fredrik Celander, Product Management for Marine Leisure, Volvo Penta.
Press members were able to put the D8 through its paces aboard a series of vessels, including an Absolute 56 (twin D8 IPS800), Atlantis 55 (twin D8 IPS800), and Cranchi 48 Atlantique (twin D8 600hp/ZF286). It turns out that Celander was right, the D8 is remarkably quiet even at full throttle, allowing passengers located anywhere on the vessels to speak comfortably while underway.
The engine's wide rpm range and refined power band deliver smooth handling while accelerating and cruising, resulting in a very comfortable ride. Toggling between wheel control and IPS steering was possible with the touch of a button. The D8 IPS-powered Absolute 56 and Atlantis 55 were surprisingly nimble and responsive under the joystick's control, quickly adjusting course with even a light tilt on the stick. As expected, around the dock, our over 50-foot models were incredibly simple to pull into the slip – something anyone familiar with IPS will understand. The system's precise and responsive steering, make the most complex manoeuvers pedestrian and unintimidating.
Since Volvo Penta introduced joystick piloting back in 2006, the company's partners and customers have long been awaiting the feature for use on inboard engines.
Volvo Penta's Joystick Inboard system is the most sophisticated system on the market for recreational inboard applications that includes all five steering components: thrusters, rudders, gear, slip and throttle. The Joystick Inboard system automatically calculates balance between rudder angles and thrust from the main engines and bow thruster to match each specific boat's characteristics. Our test Cranchi 48 Atlantique produced smooth and precise handling on both the open seas as well as around the dock.
"For many, docking is the most stressful part of boating – but the Joystick Inboard just takes all the stress away,' says Anders Thorin, Volvo Penta's Electronics Project Planning Manager. "It is so simple and intuitive that a child can do it.'
Volvo Penta's new e-Key Remote is connected and integrated into the boat's entire driveline. There is no need to search for ignition keys and circuit breakers – both are easily controlled remotely from as far away as 100 meters.
Additionally, the remote features two programmable buttons capable of connecting to and controlling additional electrical equipment such as lights, a gangway, a windlass, the boat's horn or an extendable sun screen. All of these functions can be switched on before you step onboard.
"The e-Key Remote offers much greater ease and convenience when it comes to unlocking and starting a boat, as well as much greater security from theft,' says Petter Andolf, Chief Project Manager for the Battery Management Solution and e-Key Remote. "When approaching the boat from the jetty one simple press on the e-Key Remote will authorize the user, switch on the battery supply and power up the electrical vessel control system. Once onboard, just start the engine and you can cast off. When leaving the boat, one press on the e-Key Remote will power down the system to a locked state and switch off the battery supply.'
The e-Key Remote provides theft protection since it's connected to the vessel with a unique identifier. Only a valid key can be used to operate the system. Up to four keys can be paired with a vessel.
The unit is waterproof to the IPX7 standard, meaning it can withstand being immersed for 30 minutes at a depth of up to one metre. It doesn't "sink quickly' according to Volvo Penta, but users should certainly add a float to the e-Key's ring.
If for some reason the remote isn't working, its internal chip can be tapped on a panel located at the helm to activate the electrical vessel control system (EVC).
Battery Management Solution
Volvo Penta's new Battery Management Solution includes a number of smart features for enabling simple, trouble-free boating. For example, if the start battery is weak, the Start Aid function will automatically borrow energy from the auxiliary battery.
The system also provides alerts on battery health and statuses, as well as all diagnostic information so that potential issues can be handled preemptively. Some vessels require multiple voltage meters to monitor numerous batteries located in different places. With the Battery Management Display, information on voltage, current flows, time to full/empty and status of battery health can be accessed in one display in the boat's cockpit – even when powered down. The same information can also be accessed on the main user display at the helm when powered up.
"When you're out on your boat, you do not want to spend your time searching for faults or dealing with small issues,' says Petter Andolf. "By giving you a complete overview of your boat's batteries, the Battery Management Display allows you to be more proactive in maintaining healthy batteries, and when faults do occur, it is far easier to locate the source.'
Battery Management Solution's fully-integrated unit includes all the necessary switches, connections, fuse holders, cables, guards and charge distributors to make installations easier. This enables a reduction in the number of components, wiring harnesses and connection points, creating fewer sources of potential failure.
D8 with IPS and D8 Inboard are available with a number of options that can further enhance the ease and safety of boating.
These include Volvo Penta's Interceptor System, which can handle all trim adjustments at the push of a button; and Volvo Penta's Glass Cockpit System, the fully integrated control and monitoring system.
Integrated with the Volvo Penta Electronic Vessel Control system (EVC), Glass Cockpit allows the monitoring of information in one place. Volvo Penta recently expanded the screen sizes available for the system, which now include displays from seven to 24 inches. Screens are customizable so the most important information is quickly delivered to the driver, improving situational awareness and safety.
Considering all of Volvo Penta's latest introductions, the company has succeeded once again at providing easy boating options that can be appreciated by both new and established boaters.