outboard motor on a boat

Why Are Outboard Motors So Expensive?

We all have a daily routine. But most importantly, we work to earn a living. In the course of this, we exhaust ourselves. Different people have different approaches to unwinding, a part of it would depend on the kind of work we do, and another part of it could be promoted by our environment, but a huge part of it depends on our finances.

This establishes that while some take to just a warm bath and a nap, or a long walk with music, or even painting, some others go all the way by taking a vacation or a boat ride.

Our attention will be centred on boats, especially one of the components that enable them to move and give us exciting views. This component is the outboard motor which has been termed “expensive,” and we are about to find out why.

What is an Outboard Motor?

The outboard motor is an independent, detachable compartment of the boat usually located outside the boat, and consists of the propeller, the engine, and the gearbox. This outboard motor sees to the pivoting and thrusting of the boat. Since it is not the only component of the boat that is equally important, why are outboard motors so expensive?

Though the price appears like the elephant in the room, other factors contribute to its heightened price and are stated below.

The quality and parts of the outboard motor

It is no news that making quality products is not a walk in the park. It is expected to be superior, durable, and visibly different from similar products whose materials are sourced from the things found within that did not require an extra effort. Because of this reason, enough funding goes into assembling the right materials to build a commendable, reliable product.

With the constant contact that the outboard motor has with water, its parts are expected to be built with non-corrosive materials to avoid the metal parts of the engine being at the mercy of rust which could disrupt its expected execution, risking lives. This makes it survive any water condition it encounters. This is a cogent reason why the price would be high.

The Architecture of the Outboard Motor

The outboard motor is designed to be lightweight and portable while maintaining its durability and quality. It is apparent that the higher the weight, the slower the movement of the boat and possibly the lesser the performance. Such a combination implies that the different parts of the motor, however, differ in physical, chemical, and mechanical properties and must thus be designed to accommodate each other while giving off an outstanding, fit operation.

The Engineering and Mechanics

A solid team of engineers is charged with the responsibility of building a propelling system, in this case, the outboard motors, and so are carefully handpicked to ensure that the best is produced and delivered. These are people who understand marine life and have experienced a countereffect should anything short of the best products be used instead.

Not only are expectations high on a legendary, state-of-the-art design, the engineers understand the complexity and technicality of designing outboard motors, they know how the performance of a part affects another while in use and decide on the right quantity or proportion a part should carry to make room for the efficient working of the other alongside. These engineers do not come cheap because their expertise is needed.


It is common for materials expected to withstand water (whether dirty, salty, murky, or clear), heat, sun, and so on to be scarce or gotten in short supply. This will affect the price of the outboard motor if found. Materials that contain silicon or magnesium are sought after because of their marine-friendly nature. Sometimes, platinum, gold, or any uncommon metal could even be used. If these apply, the finished product would never be sold cheap.

The target markets

As stated earlier, boat cruises or rides are considered a luxury and do not happen as often as riding in cars. Hence, boat users and owners are considered financially buoyant by default. They are the high-income earners in society and are expected to afford something like the outboard motor in cases of poor maintenance or damage. This automatically rules in favor of the manufacturers that could put up a price as they deem fit because it would eventually be bought.

Again, these elites would always prefer to buy from brands like their fellow, sometimes to show affluence. They have a flair for expensive items too, not just because of assured quality but also for comfort to avoid buying them so often. It would also keep their minds at bay while they enjoy the fantastic view from a smooth-running boat.

Market monopoly

Due to the nature of the product, smaller brands or firms may not have enough resources and manpower to venture into making an impeccable quality outboard motor. Some could manage to make a replica with lesser quality materials and sell at a reduced price, but when its long-lasting ability is compromised, customers withdraw, and the business owner(s) is at a loss and could sell at giveaway prices with the intention of not continuing in this line of business.

Other small companies may decide not to even bother with the production of the outboard motor if they understand early the loss that would come with less patronage. This leaves the established, large, popular brand that may have access to investors and other forms of aid to take over the product and control the prices with little or no competition.


Another answer to the question why outboard motors are so expensive is longevity. Although there is no specific number of years given for when an outboard motor is due for change and replacement, it could last up to 8 years or more with regular maintenance. Therefore, the sale opportunity is used wisely and is sold at a ridiculous price because it is an unconventional long-term product.

Short Demand for Outboard Motor

As a result of the longevity of the motor, there is a decreased demand for the product and, in solidarity, a decrease in supply. Boats are not sold as often as cars, and neither are their parts. So, to keep the business afloat and the profit margin high, prices are increased to make up for times of short demand.

Extensive research and technology development

An expensive outboard motor on a boat

A lot of funding goes into research before a product is ever made. In most cases, there are several trial-and-error phases leading to a waste of money and resources. This is the foundation phase in manufacturing any product even with well-informed engineers that keep abreast latest trends and customer priorities, difficulties must still be encountered.

The issue of technological development will not be overlooked. Research is not enough, keeping up with the competition by including the latest technology is also of utmost importance. Companies interested in making outboard motors would also build something flexible enough to accept changes in case of future adjustments brought by advanced technology.

Product Testing

When positive results are achieved in the successful production of outboard motors, there is still work to do in product testing, which is another tricky phase because it could still not work as expected. If it does, the manufacturers are then faced with aggressive advertising and convincing strategies to attract sales. All these and several unmentioned rigorous paths deserve rewards, one of which could come in the form of an increase in price above normal.

Of course, there are always cheaper models of outboard motors, the question remains, can it handle the unpredictable marine life? Since it is not established which category of boat users are buying, whether those are intending to use it on the boat once in a while or those that use it for regular business, it is safer to buy quality.

Size of the Boat

However, not all price differences mean lesser quality, outboard motor prices could vary due to boat sizes and maintenance procedures. In contrast, some companies sell outboard motors at high prices due to the amount of money pumped into marketing, perhaps due to their popularity, customer base, and affiliations.

Safety and Maintenance

The entire plan and aesthetics put in making outboard motors are to avoid operational problems. All the energy channelled into producing outboard motors makes its maintenance easy, balances its power to prevent overpowering or underpowering, and gives room for proper ventilation. A good outboard motor working in a boat relaxes all nerves, thereby making the ride twice as fun.

In conclusion, companies could inflate their price while selling outboard motors, which without the aforementioned would have been termed filling their own pockets without empathy. Customers need to consider the factors that have triggered an increase in the price. Outboard motors are expensive but deserving because safety cannot be overrated, and there is never an alternative once a boat movement begins.

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