I tested the very first Volvo IPS drive back in 2005, when the engine company put two of their pod drives in a Tiara 38 to see how they would work on a recreational boat. Pods, of course, had been used for years on commercial ships, but this was the first on an American production boat. With two Volvo engineers, I cruised from Sandusky, Ohio, on Lake Erie, up to St. Ignace, Michigan, next to the Mackinaw Bridge at the top of Lake Huron.
The test, of course, was a home run. At the helm, we turned a joystick to maneuver the Tiara sideways, forward, aft. The pods turned independently so we could move the boat in any direction at all. The two sets of forward-facing, counter-rotating Duoprop propellers made driving at cruising speed fun, and efficient. Not only did IPS (Inboard Performance System) take the fear out of docking, but it also was more fuel efficient than traditional shaft drives; it was more quiet, because of underwater exhaust, and it opened up room inside the boat.
Volvo has sold some 20,000 IPS drives since then, and they keep getting better. The newest, IPS 15, is the fourth generation of IPS, and is designed to work with Volvo’s D8 engine series for cruising boats, rated between 450 and 600 hp. The new IPS 15 has the widest steering angle yet, 34 degrees, and it is lighter than previous versions, with better streamlining and hydrodynamics.
This latest IPS also comes with Volvo’s Dynamic Position System. You just push the DPS button and the boat stays in place while you wait for a bridge to open or for an empty spot at the fuel dock. For more: http://volvopenta.com