So what were a group of truck journalists doing last week on a 75-foot sport-fishing luxury yacht? Learning about the power of integration.
The PentaGone from Volvo's Penta marine- and industrial-engine company showcases the innovation that can happen with integration.
Volvo Trucks in 2011 recorded the North American heavy-duty truck industry's largest market share gain of the year, and hit a company record market share of 12.1% of the combined U.S. and Canadian retail market. More importantly for this trip, it reached record penetration levels for its proprietary engines and I-Shift automated manual transmission. The percentage of Volvo trucks sold with the company's proprietary engines hit a record of nearly 80%, and I-Shift penetration also hit a record level of more than 40%.
Volvo last year also introduced the XE-13, which takes integration to a new level with sophisticated software that maximizes the "gear fast/run slow" concept for better fuel efficiency.
"In North America, integration is fairly new as a concept," explained Magnus Koeck, vice president, marketing and brand management at Volvo Trucks North America. "But if you take other parts of the world, we have worked with integration for a very long time. So we have the history, we have the knowledge."
And some of that knowledge can be cross-platform. In case you don't know, Sweden-based Volvo Group, parent company of Volvo trucks, also has divisions that specialize in construction equipment, buses, aero, and Volvo Penta, which makes marine and industrial engines.
That's where we come to the vessel in question, the PentaGone, custom-built to showcase Volvo Penta's IPS "pod" (read "integrated") propulsion system.
The version on this boat, the IPS 1200, uses three Volvo D13 engines (similar to what you see in Class 8 trucks), rather than the traditional inboard motor system that would typically use two much larger engines that consume way more space and way more fuel.
Much like Volvo designed the XE13 to work together very specifically as a complete package, so sister company Penta designed the IPS to work as an integrated system to supply to boat makers, rather than simply supplying an engine that may or may not work efficiently with the transmission and other components.
In this video, Ed Szilagyi, manager of product integration, explains it much better than I can in the engine room of the PentaGone.
"As some people in our company say, the I-Shift is to Volvo Trucks as the IPS is to Volvo Penta," said Ron Huibers, president of North American truck sales and marketing. "As much as we've had a record year (in North America) on that, we're just catching up to the rest of the world."
If you'd like to read some more about the PentaGone, here are links to some articles in the boating community:Why IPS Is Gaining Favor Among Sportfishermen, BoatTEST.comNew Spencer 70 IPS Motor yacht features Nauticomp Signature II LED Displays, Luxury Yacht Charter & Superyacht NewsThe Spencer 70 IPS Penta Gone demonstrates that change can be good, www.yachtingmagazine.com