|One Year Later|
| Part 2: Welcome news for boaters
By Diane M. Byrne — January 2002
This was welcome news for boaters, for more than just the obvious reasons. Some, for example, had ended up paying for repairs on their warrantied FICHT-equipped engines while OMC was in bankruptcy proceedings. In addition, owners of other Johnson and Evinrude outboards that were similarly still under warranty when OMC filed for bankruptcy did the same. Bombardier additionally has been reimbursing these consumers.
But what about owners of older-model outboards? Bombardier declined to offer supplemental promotional warranties or extensions beyond the original date for a few reasons. Primarily, Lambert says, some manufacturing changes occurred between 1999 and 2000, making it difficult to supply parts. In addition, there were problems with the 1997 and 1998 models that he says "couldn’t be answered when we walked in"–in other words, no one who had been with OMC during those years and had remained after the acquisition knew enough about every aspect to help Bombardier figure out what was done. On top of this, many of the 1999 warranties had already expired by the time the acquisition was completed.
Another situation that required Bombardier’s attention involved extant outboard models that had yet to be shipped to dealers. When OMC ceased to exist, so, too, did its engines’ compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards. According to Lambert, this represented a "large proportion" of the outboards. But since the recertification process didn’t involve having to make physical modifications, he adds, Bombardier was able to accomplish the task within one month of the assets’ acquisition.
While this helped to reassure the former OMC dealers that Bombardier was on their side, they–and especially consumers–still needed a serious boost of confidence where FICHT was concerned. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, between July 1999 and December 2000, OMC had received a high number of reports of fires and explosions due to fuel leaks in its 1999 and 2000 Evinrude 200- and 225-hp models equipped with the direct-injection technology. OMC had contacted dealers about the problem in November 2000 and distributed some upgrade kits to correct it, but the company never notified owners. The bankruptcy complicated matters for the Coast Guard, which has the legal authority to order a company not only to notify consumers of a potentially dangerous defect, but to recall the products and repair or replace them.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.