Our distributor network is vital to our success as a global OEM business. When we began our journey back in 2007, seven employees were working on the design and development of the CXO300. Today, we have a strong workforce of 150 employees at our Headquarters in Shoreham, UK, and a network of 24 distributors across the globe.
We met with Shifag Athif, General Manager at Diesel Outboard Company (D.O.C Pvt Ltd), to discuss their journey working with Cox, their predictions on the market, and what the future looks like for the marine industry.
How long has D.O.C Pvt Ltd been operating?
D.O.C Pvt Ltd was incorporated in March 2017 to be the exclusive representative of Cox Marine in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. We have closely followed the development of Cox Marine and the CXO300 for the past 8+ years.
You were one of the first distributors to join Cox’s network; how have you seen the business grow during this time?
With an eye on the sensitivity of the outboard market in the Maldives, we chose to be extremely cautious in our introduction to our territory. Therefore, we waited for Cox Marine to overcome its perceived teething phase before installing our first engines.
Our territory’s first pair of CXO300s was commissioned on 15th December 2022, and the customer has accrued over 200 hours in the 3 months since.
What territory does D.O.C Pvt Ltd cover for Cox Marine?
Maldives and Sri Lanka
Tell us about your facilities and what goes on there.
We are an experienced team involved in the outboard sector for the past 30 years. We have a fully operational service facility catering for outboard servicing with competent technicians carrying out all service operations, including installations, consultation and rebuilds.
We have commenced work on establishing a boat yard which will produce GRP high-speed passenger and military craft of 38ft to 55ft, with a high emphasis on sales packaged with the CXO300.
What has the market been like in recent months?
In the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the market has an annual demand of around 600 outboards, rated at more than 250 hp; until now, the only option has been gasoline. Over the last 12-24 months, more gasoline-outboard manufacturers have successfully entered our market.
In our territory, there is an increased need for high-horsepower outboards in twin, triple and quad installations.
How have you seen the marine industry change over the decades?
Over the past decade, an overwhelming preference for outboard engines has prevailed in the Maldives. Ease of maintenance and less downtime are the main factors. Demand for more extensive and faster boats has increased exponentially over the past few years. The market has welcomed the choice and availability of bigger (250-hp plus) options. Additionally, operators enjoy the freedom to upgrade through triple or quad configurations.
Where do you think the future of marine is going?
We are beginning to see multiple outboard engine installations on commercial vessels, such as fast landing crafts of 65ft and above. This application would not have considered outboards previously.
The high torque from the newly emerging high-horsepower outboards provides excellent performance, ease, and advantages over inboard propulsion options. The total cost of ownership (TCO) is also beginning to factor in the choice of purchase. At present, the diesel outboard provides strong competition.
Do you predict a higher demand for diesel outboards in the next few years?
We are at a crossroads where the diesel outboards provide the much-demanded high torque and low TCO while apprehension and uncertainty over the relatively new technology are holding back demand.
What new technologies do you hope to see in marine over the next 5-10 years?
Diesel, hybrid, electric, and hydrogen propulsion options are promising and attracting substantial interest.
We all agree that the success of pure electric propulsion hinges on a major battery breakthrough and is yet to challenge the energy density of fossil fuels.
The most realistic option that has been researched revolves around hydrogen and hydrogen hybrids. This option still calls for significant infrastructure development and will need to catch up to automotive electrification. In short, the diesel outboard will likely enjoy a substantial window of opportunity for its growth and consolidation.
How well do you think the market has received the CXO300?
The CXO300 is a well-researched and well-developed engine. The comprehensive efforts to validate each of its components, followed by the company’s commitment to improvement, have no doubt resulted in a product with excellent reliability.
Apprehension in the market at this early stage is understandable. We are confident that the CXO300 will be in high demand soon. The price point is a factor for the slow start; however, the margin appears to be narrowing due to the increasing price point of gasoline engines.
You cover a large area; what are your plans to ensure all your customers receive efficient customer service?
Our area of responsibility covers the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The financial crisis has made it impossible for us to launch the product in Sri Lanka this year. We observe Sri Lanka’s attempts to restructure its debts and regularise its economy. We will enter the market once we see signs of favourable development.
Typically, what is practised and accepted in the Maldives is for all customers to come to Male’, the capital, to service and repair all brands. We currently have workshop facilities with competent technicians at Male’. We also have, at our disposal, mobile teams who can be dispatched to any part of the country. We hold an extensive stock of spare parts and are currently developing an online shop to provide customers with easy access to spare parts.
We are in discussion with 3rd parties in preparation to appoint service dealers for the northern region of Maldives.
How much involvement do you have with the customer once they have received their outboard?
At this early stage, we have only one customer. We enjoy an exceptionally close relationship with Maldives Ports Limited, our first customer, so much so that we keep in contact with the skippers.
As standard, we provide the customer with the customised Service Booklet to assist them when monitoring and planning for the best care of their engines. We have also notified the customer of impending service intervals and helped them with advice and service on other onboard systems of the vessel.
We have managed to offer exceptional assistance with the full backing of Cox Marine on warranty claims which was received with praise from the customer.
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