|One Year Later|
the time since OMC went bankrupt and Bombardier took over its engine division,
is there finally good news for boaters?
By Diane M. Byrne — January 2002
By now the story is familiar: After introducing its line of Evinrude outboards with FICHT direct-injection technology in 1998 to meet increasingly strict engine-emissions regulations worldwide, OMC suffered a one-two punch of fuel leaks and public relations nightmares, the latter exacerbated by the fact that dealers were notified of a recall of the affected engines but consumers were not. While the company began investing money to find and fix the problems, the expenditure added to other existing financial losses within its Evinrude and Johnson lines of outboards, culminating in OMC’s filing for bankruptcy protection in December 2000. The bankruptcy court soon began selling OMC’s assets, with Bombardier completing the purchase of the Johnson and Evinrude outboard motor divisions as well as the FICHT technology in March 2001.
While some people assumed that the image problems would be insurmountable and the book would forever close on Evinrude and its sister company, Johnson, which did not use FICHT, quite a different story has been unfolding. And while some parts of it haven’t exactly unfolded in fairytale perfection–for boaters, dealers, or even Bombardier–nonetheless the effort Bombardier is making to win back consumers’ and dealers’ confidence is worthy of a chapter itself.
Bombardier took the first step even before the transaction was officially completed on March 9, 2001. At the Miami International Boat Show in February of that year, the company announced that it would cover warranties for all 2000 and 2001 OMC outboards (effective from the original retail purchase date or, in the case of outboards purchased during some special sales and promotions, the dealer’s invoice date). While Bombardier was not obligated to honor warranties under the terms of its agreement to acquire the engine assets, according to Roch Lambert, vice president and general manager of Bombardier’s Boats and Outboard Engines division, the company recognized it could supply the parts needed for the 2000 and 2001 models.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.