MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Three new models of personal watercraft, also known as water bikes, were unveiled Thursday with engines that produce less air and ear pollution than the old models, known for their roaring, smelly engines. They will start arriving at sales outlets later this month.
The vehicles conform with federal guidelines set to go into effect in 2006, replacing the old machines that are now banned in 66 national parks and the entire nation of Switzerland.
The water bikes are equipped with four-stroke engines that operate more like an automobile and use gasoline only. The old two-stroke engines, also used in outboard motors, lawn mowers and weed whackers, use a mixture of gas and oil.
"No one technology will solve the problem, but it's moving in the right direction," said Sean Smith, public lands director of the Bluewater Network environmental organization.
Jerry Martin, spokesman for the Air Resources Board in California, points out that "compared to cars, they're still incredibly dirty."
The Environmental Protection Agency started four years ago to phase in standards that will require manufacturers of marine gas engines to reduce hydrocarbon emissions in new engines by 75 percent in 2006.
Introducing four-stroke engines at the opening of the Miami International Boat Show were Yamaha, Bombardier and Honda. The catch for the new models. They will cost $1,000 to $1,500 more than the two-strokes, costing as much as $9,500.