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Why Are Outboard Motors So Expensive?

Why Are Outboard Motors So Expensive?

If you’re looking to buy a new outboard motor for your boat, you may be scratching your head at the prices. Sure, everything is expensive these days, but you never expected a boat motor to cost quite so much!

So now, you may be wondering: why are outboard motors so expensive?

Great question! In this article, we’ve compiled the top 10 factors that have driven the cost of outboard motors so high.

Ready to dive in?

1. Quality

All outboard motors are built with quality in mind, especially those coming from the popular name brands.

Think about it: these motors can take your boat far out to sea. If they were to fail while you were out there, you could be stranded with no way of calling for help.

use outboard motor to take the boat out to the sea

In an effort to prevent worst-case scenarios, manufacturers use top-quality materials to build their outboard motors. The materials must be marine-grade–able to survive repeated exposures to humidity, temperature swings, UV radiation, and the corrosive effects of saltwater.

Quality is key to a good outboard motor. And you wouldn’t want to be out on the water with anything less.

2. Longevity

Not only are outboard motors meant to withstand water, salt, and other harsh conditions; they are designed to last.

When you buy an outboard motor, you expect to get many years of use out of it. You wouldn’t want to be buying a new motor every couple of years.

a man using outboard motor on a boat to go to the sea

So, to make them last, even higher-quality materials must be used.

What’s more, companies can’t expect to sell as many motors when they are built to last. These companies still need to make a profit, so they increase the price of each motor they do sell so they can afford to stay in business.

3. Manufacturing Cost

There are many different expenses that go into manufacturing outboard motors, including:

  • Cost of materials
  • Testing and development
  • Shipping and handling
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Factory and warehouse costs

We’ll take a closer look at some of these expenses throughout this article. As you might imagine, with so many different expenses, outboard manufacturers have to raise the price of their product in order to cover the cost and still make a profit.

4. Development and Testing

There is always room for improvement, and companies spend a lot of time developing their products, testing them for safety, and finding ways to improve. This is an ongoing process with any company.

4 stroke outboard motor

If you’re going to spend money on an already expensive product, you want to have some assurance that it will be safe to use and that you will get your money’s worth out of it. Hence, outboard manufacturers want to make sure they provide you with the best possible product.

Researching and developing new improvements takes time and requires paying the researchers well. Testing each product also takes a lot of time and money to make sure it is ready to use, with all the bugs worked out.

These added expenses get passed onto you, the consumer, in the form of a more expensive motor.

5. Supply and Demand

This ultimately goes back to the longevity of each motor produced.

There are various companies that produce outboard motors – Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude, etc. They are all in competition with each other to produce the best outboard motors; this competition ensures that the products produced are the highest possible quality.

2-stroke outboard motor

Meanwhile, the high-quality motors they produce will ideally last for many years. Since the motors are so long-lived, the overall demand for the motors goes down because people won’t have to buy new ones as often.

In other words, the supply is greater than the demand.

Outboard motor companies know this, so they increase the price of their products so that they can still make a profit despite producing fewer motors overall.

6. Brand Monopoly

We talked about competition between companies in the above section. But did you know the opposite phenomenon, brand monopoly, also plays a role in the cost of outboard motors?

As mentioned, there are several brands that produce boat motors. These are all large, well-established companies that have been producing their product for years, if not decades.

name of big brands producing outboard motors

Because the cost of producing outboard motors is so high, many smaller or younger companies will shy away from offering them.

This means that the large companies already producing outboards may actually face less competition in the long run; at least, they won’t face new competition, especially as they become more and more established themselves.

This allows these few name brands to raise their prices more than they would otherwise be able to if there were more companies producing outboard motors.

7. Marketing

Once a company releases an outboard motor, they have to be able to let boaters know about it. There is a cost to everything, of course, and the cost of marketing a new product is not cheap.

Whether a company advertises their product through their own website, a third-party website, a billboard, a press-release, or through some other means entirely, it is going to cost them money. Companies pass on this extra expense, like all others, to the consumer.

8. Shipping

a shipper is delivering outboard motors

Outboard motors are large, heavy, bulky items, and moving them from point A to point B can cost quite a bit of money.

First, they must be packed in such a way as to avoid being damaged during transport. Then, they must be moved from the factories where they were made to the warehouses where they’re stored, then to the dealership where they’re sold–and finally from the dealership to your house.

All of this moving around can get pretty expensive. As usual, you, the consumer, ends up covering much of this additional cost.

9. Taxes

Boat motors are subject to taxes and tariffs ranging between 6.5 and 9.75 percent. Considering they are already expensive, these taxes can significantly add to the overall cost of buying a new outboard motor.

10. Size

a big outboard motor is mounted on the boat

Even the size of the outboard motor can affect its overall cost.

Large outboard motors are more expensive than small ones. This is because more materials are used to make them and they are more expensive to ship.

Smaller outboard motors are less expensive to make and move, so they will naturally cost less than the larger ones.


Wednesday 14th of December 2022

Almost all these "reasons" are standard cost/price issues for any manufactured product. The only real reason cited here outboards are so expensive is the relatively small number manufactured to amortize fixed costs over. Number of outboards sold in the USA is typically below 300,000 --- just a fraction of the number of cars sold.