Captain’s Log, 2007: Yet again, Pleasurecraft Engine Group tops a major marine engine customer-satisfaction survey. Dan Harvey reports how the South Carolina-headquartered company consistently ranks high on the nautical charts with its sharp focus on specific maritime market niches, as well as its unwavering adherence to outstanding quality.
For over 30 years, it’s been smooth sailing and full speed ahead for Pleasurecraft Marine Engine Company, a leading manufacturer of marine gasoline inboard engines. The company log of the South Carolina-based firm provides an impressive record as far as pleasing customers with its premium equipment.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we are consistently recognized for our outstanding quality and customer satisfaction,” says President John Thurman. Indeed, when J.D. Power and Associates, the prominent and influential consumer ratings and research firm, released its latest Marine Engine Study, Pleasurecraft found itself again ranked highest in customer satisfaction for electronic fuel injection inboard engines. The study took in seven engine factors including acceleration, ease of start, reliability, smoothness, quietness, emissions and fuel economy. Pleasurecraft topped each category.
Pleasurecraft Marine Engine Company became known as Pleasurecraft Engine Group (PEG) in 1998 when it acquired Crusader, a venerated premium engine manufacturer for over 50 years. That made PEG the world’s largest manufacturer of premium marine gasoline inboard engines.
“The acquisition enabled us to remain strictly focused on gasoline inboard engines. At the same time, it gave us two brands, PCM and Crusader – two lines that cater to different niches within the inboard segment,” says Thurman.
The merging of the two enterprises allowed PCM and Crusader to share a broad spectrum of synergies. “We’ve been able to combine certain engineering efforts as well as operational efforts such as accounting, procurement and overall management,” says Thurman. The result is a deeply focused company with an eye on efficiency and quality.
PCM has been in business since 1975, manufacturing gas inboard engines for light, agile applications like ski and wakeboard boats. Crusader’s inception dates back to the 1950s, providing premium inboard engines for the offshore and open-water markets ever since. PCM and Crusader’s top-of-the-line engines can be found in the finest ski boats, motor cruisers and sports fishing yachts in the world.
Pleasurecraft Engine Group manufactures all of its engines at its two manufacturing facilities – one located at the company headquarters in Little Mountain, South Carolina, and the other in Canal Winchester, Ohio. The two facilities enable the company to be well equipped to build as many engines as the market dictates, and allow it to effectively meet the new challenges posed by ever-changing industry trends.
For example, take ethanol fuel, which recently burst on the market. All gasoline engine manufacturers, whether they produce industrial, marine, automotive or lawn equipment engines, must make sure their products run on ethanol-blended fuel, which has, in fact, become a requirement in some states. “We’re pleased to be able to tell our customers that all PCM and Crusader engines can operate on blends of up to 10 percent ethanol fuel without any adverse effects,” says Thurman.
The choice for inboard power
Outside of their capabilities in the burgeoning ethanol market, Pleasurecraft Engine Group engines – able to yank up a skier from dead stop or withstand the harsh offshore environment – have become the premium choice for inboard power. The PCM brand is engineered specifically for the performance demands of the watersports application, while the Crusader models are built saltwater tough.
Both lines begin with a 5.0 liter, a multi-port fuel injected inboard that makes 275 hp. With all of the features for which Pleasurecraft is famous, the 5.0 is an economical power choice for small and medium size sportfishing boats (Crusader Captain’s Choice 5.0), or entry level skiboats (PCM ProSport). Next up is the newly calibrated 330 horsepower 5.7 MPI (Crusader Captain’s Choice 5.7 or PCM EX-330), which has more premium features than any other engine of its class. The 6.0 liter (Crusader Captain’s Choice 6.0 or PCM ZR-6) comes in at 375 horsepower, which pound for pound, is the strongest engine the company has ever built. Crusader Captain’s Choice 8.1 MPI develops 385 horsepower and over 500 foot-pounds of torque, and Captain’s Choice 8.1 HO makes 425 horsepower. All Crusader Captain’s Choice inboards are designed specifically for the punishing offshore application and PCM engines are engineered for the quick response required for watersports. All Pleasurecraft models run smoothly and efficiently at cruising and top speeds, regardless of conditions.
Pleasurecraft inboard engines are based on the famous GM Vortec® base block, and feature advanced electronic fuel injection. EFI provides instant starts, smooth idling, excellent performance, and outstanding fuel economy. All Captain’s Choice and PCM inboards feature an exclusive, patented system to ensure precise fuel delivery and completely eliminate the possibility of fuel starvation and/or vapor lock. No other inboard manufacturer can offer the advantages of this fuel delivery system.
Durability, ease of maintenance
In addition, Pleasurecraft components are famous for lasting durability. For example, the new modular stainless-steel water pump is larger and more efficient than the plastic pump used by some competitors. A standard feature on all Crusader Captain’s Choice inboards is “full” freshwater cooling, as opposed to the optional “half” system used by some competitors. This means the entire engine assembly and the exhaust system is protected from the harsh saltwater environment with long-life coolant. The heavy-duty engine and transmission oil cooler ensures the ultimate in cooling, even during the longest high-speed runs.
Pleasurecraft believes that boating should be fun, not work. Beyond typical fluid checks and filter replacements (which are easily accomplished because of easy-to-reach locations), the 6.0 and 8.1 engines are essentially maintenance-free. Traditional tune-ups are a thing of the past, thanks to the distributorless engine control system, which eliminates parts like points, rotor, condenser and cap and reduces the number of moving parts for easy maintenance and lasting durability. Furthermore, the platinum-tipped spark plugs and long-life coolant can double or even triple the time interval between changes. The stainless steel pump is driven by the serpentine drive belt, which means there is no water pump belt to service, and its impeller can be changed without removing the pump from the engine. The single serpentine belt system provides lasting durability and easy service.
Because captains of inboard-powered vessels often travel far from homeport, the company introduced the Crusader Captains Club and the PCM Watersports Club. Membership, which is free to all new owners, provides personalized assistance in finding parts and service when traveling, as well as a year of towing protection from Sea Tow, marine insurance discounts from Sea Safe and other Club perks. No other inboard manufacturer in the industry comes close to providing this level of one-on-one customer service.
Pleasurecraft also offers warranties that are second-to-none in the industry. Owners can rest easy that their investment is backed by the largest gasoline inboard manufacturer in the world. Parts and factory-trained service are easy to find through a large national network of distributors and dealers.
Steady as She Goes
Its penchant for innovation in addition to its reliable customer service programs have enabled Pleasurecraft Engine Group to grow steadily and chart a successful course for itself, one that is characterized by a sharp focus on inboard engines modified for two specific market segments. Many competitors, Thurman points out, involve themselves in multiple businesses, opting to produce several different types of propulsion systems, including outboards and stern-drives.
“It’s ‘inboards only’ for both PCM and Crusader, explains Thurman. “As a result, we’ve improved the market position for both brands.” As Thurman indicates, Pleasurecraft has proven itself in two ways: its strong showing in customer-satisfaction surveys and its significant growth. “That’s our story,” he says.