ENGINES: High-Performance Engines Feature Lower Price Tags

April 1, 1999
According to the old adage, "The only thing that is constant is change." And as the rental market changes, so too do the needs of rental company owners

According to the old adage, "The only thing that is constant is change." And as the rental market changes, so too do the needs of rental company owners and operators.

A growing level of competition forces dealers to look for greater productivity in their workers, their systems and their equipment. Rental dealers place these same demands on equipment manufacturers who, in turn, pass the pressure along to engine manufacturers.

While the introduction of overhead-valve technology established a new level of durability in the last decade, these engines and the equipment that they power have come at a premium cost. Now, however, a number of factors have forced the development of cost-effective OHV engines, providing dealers both premium features and durability at a much better value than ever before.

There are several significant factors that have driven this new engine technology: a growing number of engine manufacturers; equipment manufacturers who look for growing levels of differentiation; the growth of larger retail chains with more clout looking for greater value; and emissions legislation.

These factors combine to produce better technology that improves either performance, durability or cost effectiveness of equipment and engines. In some cases, all three are improved.

Ask and you shall receive Because consumers want differentiation, they ask rental dealers for it; rental dealers ask the equipment manufacturers for it; the equipment manufacturers ask the engine makers for it, and the engine makers have to provide it.

Some of the more meaningful technological differentiation that has developed over the past 15 years include the aforementioned OHV engines, V-twin engines in the 15- to 25-horsepower categories and the use of low-oil sensors in these engines. All of these developments have improved either the performance or the durability of engines.

There have been other changes, however, that have proved to be less meaningful to dealers and end users. These less meaningful changes include the development of overhead-cam (OHC) engines, the offering of pressure lubrication in single-cylinder engines and the use of fuel injection in small air-cooled engines. These changes failed to improve performance, durability and/or cost effectiveness.

A penny saved... In addition to technological changes that have produced improvements in durability, performance and differentiation, there has been increasing pressure for cost reductions in these newer technologies.

The growing clout of larger rental companies and retailers is resulting in growing demand for lower prices from equipment manufacturers and engine makers. As a result of this growing pressure, the industry is now starting to see some of the best technology at much lower prices. Both OHV technology and V-twin engines have been offered at much more attractive prices in the last two years. These lower-priced offerings are bringing premium levels of performance and durability into an affordable range for OEMs, rental dealers and their customers.

As a result of the new levels of value that these engines offer, their use will undoubtedly spread. Rather than continuing to pay a premium price for engi nes, OEMs and dealers are capitalizing on the new cost-effective technology.

It's a competitive world, and you should seek out all of the competitive advantages you can get. Purchasing equipment that offers these new affordable OHV and V-twin engines is one way to do this. That allows your company to take advantage of lower costs without sacrificing performance or durability. If your suppliers aren't offering low-cost high-performance engine options, ask them when they will.

If you're a skeptic - and in your business you should be - then start out on a limited basis, using just a few pieces of equipment, perhaps on applications that are not so critical to your operations. Once you're satisfied that these new products are a better value, expand their use across your offerings. But, whatever you do, don't settle for the status quo because if you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten.

And that's just not going to cut it.