If you cancelled your
move to California to avoid having to buy catalytic converters for your stern drive
or inboard gas engines, then we have some bad news. If you buy a new boat in 2010
– in any state -- you may have to. As we noted last year when it happened, the EPA
has formalized new exhaust emission standards for marine “spark-ignition” engines
and they will be fazed in next year. Based on what boat builders are charging extra
for products going into California (which required catalytic converters in 2008)
you will be paying anywhere from about $2750 to $5000 more extra for that new boat.
(Most outboard engines comply with the new regs already and diesels are not “spark-ignited”.)
Catalytic converters will be required of every
new 2010 stern drive or inboard gas engine anywhere in the U.S., raising the price
anywhere from $2,750 to $10,000 for a new boat.
We are told by John McKnight, Director, Environmental & Safety Compliance for
the NMMA, that all 2010 stern drive and inboard gas engines will have to be EPA
emissions compliant. He said the operative phrase here is “engine model year” not
the “boat model year.” So that means, as we understand it, that engines made in
2009 which go into 2010 boat models will not be required to have the catalytic converters.
McKnight said that if there are 2009 engines in the distribution pipeline without
catalytic converters after January 1, 2010, that is all right so long as the engine
companies start installing them with their 2010 engine models.
Coming in 2010
What this means for consumers is that sometime during 2010, Volvo Penta and MerCruiser
will flush out all of the 2009 non-catalytic converter-equipped engines and change
over to the new requirement. It means that as the old product is sold off it will
be replaced with boats with the catalytic converters – and a higher price tag. This
is how the change over occurred in California in 2008 and it seemed to work fairly smoothly.
If there was ever a reason to buy a boat before a model change over this is it.
We have spot checked the extra charge builders are making to their California customers
for engines equipped with catalytic converters and it seems to be running from $2750
to about $5000 per engine, depending on the size of the engine and the boat. That means boats with twin stern drives or gas engines will cost from about $6,000 to
Ironically, this means that the small “affordable” sport boats will be hit with
the highest price increases, at $2750 extra that would be nearly 20% for one low-priced
17-footer we checked. Boats in the 20’ to 26’ range with single engines might go
up something on the order 6% to 12%, and the largest boats, say those with large
twin gas inboard engines in a 35-footer, may only go up 4% overall.
But whether it is a 4% increase or a 20% increase in the total price of the boat
it is a cost that can’t be negotiated away. And it is here to stay.
The New World
All of this means that carburetors will be a thing of the past. The EPA in its ruling
said, “We expect manufacturers to meet these standards with three-way catalysts
and closed loop fuel injection.” But that is not all. The EPA is requiring that
monitoring systems be embedded in the exhaust system to signal if the unit is not
The EPA did not stop with engines, and it also adopted “…new standards to control
evaporative emissions for all vessels using marine spark-ignition engines. The new
standards include requirements to control fuel tank permeation, fuel line permeation,
and diurnal fuel tank vapor emissions, including provisions to ensure that refueling
emissions do not increase.”
There will be benefits to the boat owner beyond taking part in improving air quality.
The catalytic converters greatly reduce the danger from CO emissions as they will
be so low as to be virtually unnoticeable. By stopping fuel line permeation there
should not be any odor of gasoline in a boat and chances of explosion should be
reduced. And catalytic converters have been found to improve fuel mileage and horsepower
So the world moves on. And the boating environment becomes a little bit better and
a little bit more expensive.