Baudouin Powerkit in Australia.
Moteurs Baudouin is a brand steeped in family tradition. Founded in 1904 by brothers, Richard and Charles Baudouin, the Baudouin story spans over 100 years.
How It Began
Neither brother wanted to follow in their father’s footsteps in the metal industry. Instead, Richard became the owner of the Pharo Shipyard in Marseille and Charles indulged in his interest in mechanical engineering.
In 1904, Charles attached a small petrol-fuelled engine to a canoe and set off to test his new experiment. Launching off the coast of Toulon, that petrol-powered canoe made it all the way to the coast of Algeria – more than 750km.
That petrol-powered canoe became the first official Baudouin marine engine and the beginning of the Baudouin brand.
Being located in the busy port of Marseille helped to establish Baudouin in the marine engine trade. Local fisherman and boatmen were their first clients. As word got out, so did the demand. Baudouin began to ramp up production to meet the demand.
In 1922, Baudouin released petrol engines with a range of outputs – from 3HP to 60HP. The design of these engines formed the basis of Baudouin’s philosophy which is still evident today.
Baudouin’s first diesel engine, the DA, was released in 1929, the same year as the Wall Street Crash. The sad economic times did not slow Baudouin down as they ranked in the top three manufacturers worldwide for marine engines.
The DB series was released in 1930, showcasing Baudouin’s innovative approach. Featuring 2,3,4 and 6 cylinders with an output of 25hp to 90hp, the DB series used individual cylinders that allowed maintenance to be completed on one without interrupting the others.
The DB series also featured rotation speeds of 750rpm – almost doubling the limits of previous diesel engines.
After World War II, Baudouin expanded their product offering, expanding from manufacturing diesel engines to also offering a variety of gearboxes, propellers, and diesel generators. During this decade, they released the GV series and the famous DK series (over 22,000 DK engines were sold during this time).
Baudouin continued to enjoy rapid growth during the 50s and 70s. They released the DV series which increased outputs to 900hp, followed by the DVX series.
Engineer, Antonin Pouillot, retired in 1963. Pouillot had designed every Baudouin engine released over the past 40 years and his commitment to the company was honoured in the name of the next product release – the DP series.
The 1970s brought economic challenges to Baudouin. To maintain turnover, Baudouin diversified into power generation engines, manufacturing them for some of Europe’s largest Original Engine Manufacturers (OEM), which were then packaged into open and closed gensets.
The power generation engines were built for continuous power, with outputs ranging from 45kVA to 680kVA. Baudouin would return to power generation engines in 2017 with the release of the PowerKit range.
The 1980s saw Baudouin change direction and returned to its marine roots. They entered the world of offshore racing, with speedboats powered exclusively with Baudouin engines. Experiencing success in this new market, Baudouin released commercial versions of the VTI engines and helped them move into new markets.
More challenges hit Baudouin in the 1990s and 200s. They changed strategy and went back to basics, focusing on the military and fishing markets. However, it was the spare parts business that kept Baudouin afloat.
Baudouin released the M26 engine, designed for continuous power, and the M26 SR engine. But this was not enough, and ownership changed hands a few times during this period.
In 2008, Baudouin relocated to a new site in Cassis but by the close of the year, they had entered receivership.
It was not the end for Baudouin. In 2009, Baudouin was purchased by Weichai Power, a company specialising in the design, manufacture, and sales of diesel engines in China.
The purchase of Baudouin opened up Weichai Power to the Western market and they invested heavily in Baudouin to prepare it for a new beginning. A research and development centre was opened at Cassis to drive product development and the network of agents used to distribute Baudouin’s engines to the world was revised.
With a new drive behind it, Baudouin enjoyed massive levels of success during this time that helped to re-establish its leading position in the marine power market.
The M26.2 was the first new engine to be released. It had enhanced technical superiority and gave users a choice of 6,8 or 12 cylinders. Fuelled by its immediate success, Baudouin released the W series, developed together with Weichai. The M26.6 was launched in 2016, featuring a common rail structure, and allowed Baudouin to meet emission regulations.
These engines helped to open new markets and opportunities for Baudouin, including the USA market. In 2017, the release of the M33 engine increased the marine market to now include tugboats and workboats.
Baudouin capitalised on their previous experience in power generation and in 2017 the PowerKit range was launched. By 2018, the PowerKit range had a power output of 17kVA to 2000kVA, making it one of the most extensive engine ranges in the power generation industry.
Utilising their craftsmanship in marine engines, the PowerKit engines are robust, reliable, and easy to both service and integrate into gensets.
In 2021, Powerlite Generators through PowerLink Australia joined Baudouin’s family by becoming the exclusive distributor and service centre of Baudouin PowerKit engines, and are utilised in PowerLink’s newest range, the Baudouin series.