It may come as a surprise to learn that Toyota makes boats alongside the millions of cars it sells. In fact, the company’s been in the marine business for nearly 20 years, rounding out a range of products that include robots and sewing machines and has expanded into industries as diverse as prefabricated housing, telecommunications and forestry.
Now, Toyota has launched the latest model to its Ponam boat range, the Ponam-31.
Derived from the Maori name for New Zealand’s South Island — Te Waipounamu — the Ponam range was initially developed by a production subcontractor in New Zealand. The first boat, the Ponam-28, was launched in 1997. Since then Toyota has developed 11 models, sold more than 600 boats, and won the Boat of the Year Japan award as well as the Good Design Award for the Ponam-28L.
The Ponam-31 aims to take the marine business to the next level.
Just as the Lexus RX launched a new class of car called the crossover, the Ponam-31 belongs to a new class of boat, one that Toyota calls “the sports utility cruiser”. This typology combines high-performance characteristics with comfortable accommodations for up to 12 people and is suitable for fishing expeditions and cruising alike.
The boat reflects Toyota’s years of experience of incorporating complex curved surfaces into vehicle design. Even the rear deck rail evokes the look of a car spoiler. Combining flowing surfaces and dynamic lines, the Ponam-31’s solid and elegant design makes it immediately recognizable as part of the Ponam series.
The open-plan flybridge above the cabin offers seagoers the opportunity to soak up the sun’s rays whilst the interior space below offers a relaxing environment.
The layout, with its single central passage, is designed for user-friendliness. Fittings such as a sofa and counter can be laid out in various arrangements to enhance both comfort and convenience.
Optional extras include systems adapted from Toyota’s automotive technologies, such as Toyota Drive Assist (a pilot support system) and the Toyota Virtual Anchor System, which is an automatic piloting control system that holds the boat in position or maintains the heading of the bow.
Made from a 31-foot high-strength aluminum hull, the Ponam-31 is powered by two, 3.0-liter direct-injection diesel engines derived from its revered Land Cruiser model. All of the company’s boats feature automotive engines that have been specifically tuned for marine applications. The engines feature optimized turbochargers, intercoolers and fuel injectors which help ensure that emissions, noise and vibrations are minimized.
The Ponam-31 is currently on sale in Japan through a network of 49 companies. Toyota aims to sell 15 units annually, with base prices starting at ¥29,700,000 (roughly $275,000).