The latest Toyota product to be launched – quite literally – is a boat. Called the Ponam-31, Toyota labels it as a "sports utility cruiser," the first of a new class of recreational water vehicle.
It's not Toyota's first boat. The company has been in the boat business since 1997, focusing primarily in closed sea-going craft in the 28-to-45-foot classes. The Ponam-31 measures 31 feet.
The name Ponam is said to derive from the Maori name for New Zealand’s South Island.
Borrowing from Toyota's automotive SUV experience, the Ponam-31 combines high-performance features with comfortable accommodations that make it as suitable for sunset dinner cruise as a fishing expedition, for up to 12 people.
The Ponam-31's hull is constructed of high-strength aluminium hull and powered comes from two 3.0-litre, turbocharged, direct-injection diesel engines. Toyota says they are marine versions of the diesels offered in the Land Cruiser Prado (think Lexus GX 460).
The boat can be piloted from inside the luxuriously appointed cabin or from an open flybridge above that reflects some automotive styling influence, including a pseudo rear-deck spoiler.
Optional features include such automotive-derived technologies as Toyota Drive Assist, a water-going form of cruise control, and Toyota Virtual Anchor System, which holds the boat in position or maintains the heading of the bow.
Unlike its cars, which sell in the hundreds of thousands annually, Toyota plans to build just 15 Ponam-31s a year.
In Japan, it is priced at ¥29,700,000 (about $313,000 CDN). Currently, it is sold only in Japan, but a Toyota spokesperson told Bloomington TV that availability may be expanded to include some unspecified overseas markets.