With over 100,000 units produced, the Volvo Penta D4 and D6 marine propulsion packages are getting a comprehensive update, delivering more power and reliability, while operating costs are cut by a third. The updates includes newly designed engines, a completely new Aquamatic sterndrive, updated IPS drive and an upgraded "electronic vessel control system" (EVCS).
The enhancements include re-engineering of the engines, delivering more power and torque and ensuring the highest levels of reliability. They are matched with an upgraded IPS pod and the new DPI Aquamatic sterndrive, which bring increased comfort and manoeuvrability, as well as more straightforward servicing and maintenance.
The D4/D6 is the company’s most technically advanced package. Designed exclusively for marine applications, the 3.7-litre D4 and 5.5-litre D6 deliver Volvo Penta’s unique marine torque, ensuring maximum power is transferred to the propellers and into the water, across the whole speed range. The changes are more than a facelift, with the majority of components re-engineered. The D4 and D6 deliver performance outputs of between 150 to 480 hp (110 to 360 kW). In top specification the D4 now has a maximum output of 320 hp, while the D6 in top spec boasts 480 hp (360 kW). This adds 10 per cent more power across the range, while making these engines 0.5 to 7.0 per cent more fuel efficient (in E5 cycle).
The list of upgrades is long, including a new engine management system, new fuel injection system, new turbo charger and a new supercharger. The cylinder head, pistons and valves are new, to cope with the increased performance, and the crankshaft is also now stronger to handle the bigger loads.
These engines will also cost less to maintain, with longer service intervals and fewer service items.
Dramatic dynamic drivelines
While the IPS driveline has had improvements in durability and reliability, it is the DPI drive that comes in for the biggest changes. The new hydraulic clutch ensures a silent and smooth shifting, as well as slipping at low engine speeds, resulting in added manoeuvrability and higher comfort at low boat speeds. The hydraulic clutch, together with steer-by-wire – which is now standard for DPI – gives an improved joystick docking function. The DPI driveline now also comes with dynamic positioning system, which automatically maintains a boat’s heading and position, even during strong currents or windy conditions – ideal when preparing for docking. The inboard version is also available for shaft and water-jet transmissions.
Electronic vessel control
One important aspect of this wide-ranging series of improvements to the D4/D6 marine systems is a new generation of Volvo Penta’s EVCS, EVC2. The first major upgrade since the system was launched in 2003, the EVC2 connects and manages the internal communications between the engine and levers and display screens, etc. With an all-new operating system, the EVC2 is now more independent of the engine than before and will act as the primary enabler for the future of boat building, including remote diagnostics and connectivity.
Now using a modern electrical architecture, the EVC2 is able to connect more things into the ecosystem of the boat, giving boat users greater functionality and offering builders more flexibility in the boat design process. This includes one connection point – for software downloads and diagnostics, and an on-board service assistant feature gives real time maintenance information. The control levers and joystick also get a more modern satin grey makeover.
While the EVC2.0 gives substantial benefits immediately, it will form the foundation for connecting all future features in a boat and allow new services to be uploaded anywhere in the world – when automated connected and electric features become available.
Baird Maritime Managing Director Alex Baird was a guest of Volvo Penta in Gothenburg, Sweden, for a day of presentations, product unveilings and test drives.