I’m a big fan of Tohatsu outboard engines. In addition to proven build quality and long-term reliability, they offer pricing that undercuts the big four mainstream players by a healthy margin of up to 25 per cent. In a world when outboard engines often cost more than the boats to which they are fitted, that’s a very worthwhile saving.
The trouble is that, while their largest DI two-stroke engine is a midrange 115hp unit, their four-stroke line-up stops at just 30hp, meaning that those of us with larger or faster boats with heftier power demands have been unable to consider Tohatsu as a realistic power option. But now, courtesy of a new agreement, that’s all set to change…
From 2014, Honda will be supplying the Tohatsu Corporation with four-stroke outboard engines from 60 to 250hp and these units will be styled, badged and sold under the Tohatsu brand. Given the natural synergy between these two big outboard names, that makes good sense. After all, Honda has been building four-strokes for longer than any other manufacturer in the world, it enjoys an excellent reputation for reliability and it backs that up with a class-leading six-year warranty. In short, Tohatsu’s hard-won reputation for bombproof solidity looks likely to continue as its market reach expands.
Martin Sanders, General Manager of Honda Motor Europe Power Equipment, explained the thinking behind it: “This link is not a new one. Honda Marine has a historical business relationship with Tohatsu in Japan and a co-operational relationship with dealers in the USA. This new agreement is an extension of that existing relationship.”
Sales will begin in 2014, when the ‘new’ engines will be sold and serviced via the Tohatsu dealer network. Of course, such is the loyalty to the Honda brand that there will still be a hard-core of powerboaters who continue to insist upon the Honda badge, regardless of the technical similarities beneath the cowling. But for those of us who don’t much care about the street cred of a label, the prospect of cut-price access to Tohatsu-badged Honda outboards sounds like extremely good news.