Mercury Marine, founded in 1939, is a division of Brunswick of Lake Forest, Illinois, in the United States. Mercury provides engines for private, commercial and government sales. Mercury even has its own line of racing engines with less fuel efficiency and more focus at power and speed. The company's primary business is outboard motors. Mercury Outboards, 30 Hp and less, are made by Tohatsu in Japan. Mercury also manufactures some larger size engines in China. Mercury also manufactures engines over 100 hp in their Fond du Lac hub.
The company began when engineer Carl Kiekhaefer purchased a small outboard motor company in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Kiekhaefer's original intention for the Kiekhaefer Corporation was to make magnetic separators for the dairy industry. The purchase included 300 defective outboard motors. Kiekhaefer and a small staff of employees rebuilt the motors and sold them to Montgomery Ward, a mail-order company. The motors were so sound that the buyer purchased more. Kiekhaefer designed motors that withstood the elements better than his competition and called the motor Mercury after the Roman god. Kiekhaefer took 16,000 orders at the 1940 New York Boat Show.
World War II
World War II changed the corporate climate, and Kiekhaefer sought a government contract to design two-man air-cooled chainsaws. Army engineers were unable to design a lightweight motor. Kiekhaefer designed a new lightweight chainsaw in 2 months. The Kiekhaefer powered chainsaw was able to cut through a 24-inch (610 mm) green log in 17 seconds, while it took the nearest competitor 52 seconds. Mercury was awarded the contract, and was the world's largest chainsaw manufacturer by the end of the war.
Mercury foresaw that the average American's interest in boating would increase after the war. Kiekhaefer introduced a 19.8 cubic inch, 10 horsepower (hp), two-cylinder alternate firing design motor at the 1947 New York Boat Show called the "Lightning" or KE-7.
1950s through 1970s
In 1957 Kiekhaefer started testing at a Florida lake he called "Lake X" in order to keep the location secret. Later that year the company designed a new 60 hp (45 kW) motor named "Mark 75". Two Mark 75 motors set an endurance record by running non-stop for over 50,000 miles (80,000 km) over 68 3/4 days on Lake X. The motors were refueled as they ran, and averaged 30.3 miles per hour.
In 1961 the company merged with the Brunswick Corporation.
The company introduced the MerCruiser motor at the 1961 Chicago Boat Show. The motor would later take over 80 percent of the world market.
Carl Kiekhaefer resigned as President of Kiekhaefer Mercury in 1969, and the name was changed to Mercury Marine. During this time, Mercury produced snowmobiles, like many other companies in the late 1960s. The first ones incorporated a 250 cc two-man chainsaw engine. In 1971, they came out with the Rocket and Lightning models. These sleds combined aluminum tunnels with Canadian Curtiss Wright (CCW) engines. The Rocket was a 340, and the Lightning a 400 with electric start. By 1972, Mercury started production of the Hurricane, a lightning-fast sled with slide suspension (as opposed to bogie wheel). This started off a new era in snowmobile construction for the whole industry and the sled's basic format set up what is seen today in modern snowmobiles. Mercury was renowned in the 1970s as one of the best racing and performance snowmobile manufacturers, as well as an industry leader in marine engine production.
Today, Mercury product brands include Mercury, Mercury Racing, MerCruiser, and Mariner outboards (sold outside the U.S.). Outboard sizes range from 2.5 horsepower (1.9 kW) to 350 horsepower (260 kW). MerCruiser sterndrives and inboards range from 100 to 450 horsepower (340 kW) and Mercury Racing outboards produce up to 350 horsepower (260 kW) and sterndrives to 1,200 horsepower (890 kW). Subsidiaries include Mercury Precision Parts and Accessories as well as Mercury propellers and Mercury Jet Drives. In the U.S. Mercury outboards, from 30 hp and below are rebadged Tohatsus.
Mercury has recently developed a processor enhanced line of outboards called the "Verado" outboard engine. The "Verado" system integrates the outboard into an entire system, including "fly-by-wire" steering and advanced diagnostics.
Marine began selling its Zeus drive system. Developed by Mercury and its joint venture company Cummins MerCruiser Diesel (CMD), the Zeus drive is a dual engine pod drive system. Some of the most notable benefits from this class design for boaters will be enhanced helm control. While underway an automated trim control feature simplifies operation. Also, Zeus includes Skyhook Electronic AnchorTM which will keep a vessel on a fixed heading within a tight range. The system might be called all weather as it will keep a heading in strong currents and winds.
Mercury Marine is the one of the world’s leading providers of marine propulsion. As $2.3 billion division of Brunswick Corporation, Mercury and its 6,200 employees worldwide provide engines, boats, services and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications.
Mercury’s brand portfolio includes Mercury and Mariner, Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives and inboard engines, MotorGuide trolling motors, Mercury and Teignbridge propellers, Mercury inflatable boats, Mercury SmartCraft electronics, and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils. MotoTron electronic controls was also a part of Mercury Marine, but as of October 2008 Brunswick Corp. sold MotoTron and its intellectual properties to Woodward Governor of Fort Collins, CO.
SeaCore is a brand of sterndrive marine propulsion systems manufactured in the United States by MerCruiser. The SeaCore engine design utilizes materials, technologies, and systems, created specifically for Mercury Marine, to prevent galvanic corrosion within its engine, transom and drive. SeaCore propulsion includes models generating between 220 and 425 horsepower (317 kW). SeaCore is designed for a wide variety of vessels operated in or moored on saltwater.