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2-Stroke PWC Frequently Asked Questions
"Why has there been a trend of PWC makers phasing out 2-cycle models??"
In the late 1990s, EPA set down a timetable for the makers of "all marine crafts" to bring forward new model crafts with considerably reduced emissions. The plan was to progressively decrease emissions to a projected 2006 standard. The carbureted 2 cycles of the 1990s would not be able to meet these 2006 emissions standards, so the industry immediately began to develop 2-cycle direct injection, and 4 cycle technologies, for use in these future lower emissions pwcs. Since the development of lower emission technologies would take a great deal of time and research expense, the EPA allowed a number of years for the "phasing in" of the newer low emissions models. EPA did not seek to ban or restrict usage of older crafts in any way, because they expected that the older "fleet" would eventually be phased out by normal attrition.
"Do the new EPA standards apply to 2-cycle outboards too??"
Yes. At the time of the agreement in the late 90s, there were an estimated 1.1million 2-cycle PWCs, and over 13million 2-cycle outboards registered in the USA. It was clear to EPA that the outboards were a much bigger emissions "issue" than PWCs. EPA never sought to ban either outboards or PWCs, they only sought to set emission standards for future new models.
"IF EPA wasn't trying to ban 2-cycle PWCs ... who was??"
A number of very litigious environmentalist groups were aware of this EPA/Marine-industry agreement and timetable..... but were dismayed that the timetable was a result of business cooperation instead of environmentalist activist campaigns. With that, these environmental groups initiated a nationwide onslaught of negative publicity towards pwcs. Even though it was already understood that the industry was spending the time and money to assure that forthcoming pwc models would be among the lowest emissions of all motorized maritime vehicles, the environmental groups still sought to ban PWCs in various venues where they believed they could find a legal "foot-hold". By doing so, these environmental groups hoped to give the appearance that "their" efforts and pressure, not the EPA timetable, brought about the new lower emission crafts…. They simply wanted the credit for something that was already going to happen anyway.
"I heard that eventually all 2-cycle PWCs would be banned from all public waterways...is that true??"
NOT TRUE AT ALL! These litigious enviro-groups used the media to give the false impression that carbureted 2-cycle pwcs would be banned from public waterways all over the nation. The enviro-groups did not dare to seek a ban against the 13million 2-cycle outboards, because they knew they would be over-run by the very powerful fishing sport lobby. Since the enviros wanted credit for "something".... their initial strategy was to use the federal courts to ban only carbureted 2cycle PWCs in all NPS parks. They sued The National Park Service for "negligence", claiming that carbureted 2-cycle pwcs were being allowed to harm the environment (ignoring the fact that there were 13 times more carbureted two cycle outboards). Since the NPS had to respond in some way, they opted for a timetable that would require 2006 compliant pwcs & outboards “at all NPS park waters” by 2012. The national parks waterways account for about 4% of the available recreational national waterways in the USA. Those parks will not be “policing” for carbureted PWCs until 2012 …. “if” the badly under-funded NPS actually figures out a way to do such policing.
"I heard that PWCs are currently being banned from some public waters... Is that True??"
There are a tiny number of non-NPS venues nationwide that “claim” they will also be performing "NPS style" policing (primarily reservoirs that disallow any “water contact sports” like swimming, skiing, etc). In general, they have been required to ban either "all carbureted 2-cycle outboards & PWCS, or ban all water/body contact sports. But for the most part, the other 96% of public waterways in the USA will be open to virtually any craft that floats and runs. The wholesale banning of carbureted 2-cycles from USA public waterways is no more eminent than the wholesale banning of classic Mustangs and Corvettes from our public highways.
There is absolutely no doubt that the new 4-stroke offerings from the PWC makers are (and will continue to be) very quiet, comfortable and smooth running machines.
Unfortunately, along with all this wonderfulness comes some negative baggage. First and foremost, these are the most expensive pwcs ever made, and will unlikely get cheaper as more technology is applied to future models. Along with this, these new 4-strokes are easily among the largest, heaviest, and most mechanically complex PWCs ever made. The 4-stroke engine platforms need space in the hull for all the running gear (cooling systems, electrical boxes, etc) ….All this extra stuff adds weight. The makers have done a good job of packaging the 4-strokes very nicely…. But at the end of the day this added weight makes these PWCs more like a boat, and less like a traditional lightweight PWC. No doubt lighter designs may eventually come forward…. However that technology will very likely add even more to the already heavy price tags. For the foreseeable future, no 4-stroke PWC will offer the riding experience of a lightweight 1990s stand-up or sport class 2-cycle.