Yamaha’s Papua New Guinea boat manufacturing setting new standards, says Ela Motors CEO

Where in the world is Yamaha’s biggest boat manufacturing project? It’s in Papua New Guinea, Takeshi Abe, Chief Executive Officer of Ela Motors, tells Business Advantage PNG. He says a new 23-footer boat has been specifically designed to meet PNG flotation standards—and it’s being made in-country.

A flotation test for the Yamaha boats Source: Ela Motors

Flotation testing for the Yamaha boats in PNG. Source: Ela Motors

In Papua New Guinea, the ’23-footer’ is the standard water craft for coastal and inter-island travel—a critical mode of transport for the many communities which reside along its 5150 km coastline. For years, Ela Motors has sold the market-leading boat, supplied by global giant, Yamaha.

Two years ago, says Ela Motors CEO Takeshi Abe, discussions were held with the National Marine Safety Authority (NMSA) on the ‘new regulations coming up in PNG’ for boat safety. This led to the introduction of new safety equipment and other changes.

‘They wanted the boat to still be intact floating whilst it was in the water with people inside it.’

‘We had several meetings with the NMSA to clarify the requirements, then we asked Yamaha to design the new dinghy boat to match them.’ In terms of the number of units produced, he says the project is currently Yamaha’s biggest in the world.

Flotation

Ela Motors CEO Takeshi Abe

Ela Motors’ Takeshi Abe

Abe says there was a particular focus on the 23-foot boats staying afloat in all conditions.

‘They wanted the boat to still be intact floating whilst it was in the water with people inside it. So, we loaded the boat up with people and then flooded it. Even fully flooded, with people in it, it fully meets their requirements.’

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The boats should carry eight passengers and each craft is supplied with eight life jackets. But they have been tested with more than 18 people.

‘We did testing with people in it and then filled up with the water to see if it still floated,’ says Abe. ‘This is what the NMSA was requesting. Whenever water comes into the boat, they want something that the passengers can stay in for a while until the rescue comes.’

Factory

Abe says Ela Motors has a Technical Assistance Agreement with Yamaha to produce the new boats. ‘We appoint the manufacturer and we appoint the factory,’ he says.

Ela Motors is the retailer. The boats are made by a company called Samarai Plastics (Samplas), and it’s making more than 1000 fibreglass boats a year.

‘We have in excess of a 90 per cent market share for Boats and Outboard motors.’

He says the factory was in Alotau, but it burned down in October 2016. Samplas is currently making the boats in a temporary facility.

Taxi terminal at Lae Source: Ela Motors

Taxi terminal at Lae Source: Ela Motors

‘Ela Motors is now setting up a new factory in Lae, into which Samplas will move and be the manufacturer. By August or October of this year, we should be able to return to full production.’

Markets

‘We have in excess of a 90 per cent market share for boats and outboard motors. Together with the Boat, Yamaha Enduro Outboards are the most popular model in PNG with its durability and reliability.

‘Toyota makes buses specifically for PNG conditions.’

‘Our 15 dealerships country-wide, will also support the customers by providing necessary service and spare parts.’ says Abe.

New PMV

The New Toyota Coaster

The New Toyota Coaster

Ela Motors will also be bringing a new 25-seater bus to the market, an update of the Toyota Coaster. Abe says the company currently enjoys an 84 per cent market share in the segment.

‘The Coaster is the most popular People Moving Vehicle (PMV) in PNG.’ In the new Coaster model, he says, the interior and design will change. ‘Everything is different.’

Toyota, he adds, makes buses specifically for PNG conditions.

‘In the factory in Japan, there is a production line specifically reserved for the buses for PNG.

‘To stop the torsion twist because of the condition of the PNG roads, it is necessary to reinforce the bus body frame,’ explains Abe. ‘It is the toughest Coaster Toyota makes.’

The new model will also have a reinforced roof to prevent it caving in if the bus rolls over. Abe says Toyota will also be also supplying a 30-seater bus, which is powered by the six-cylinder Land Cruiser engine.

Comments

  1. Glen Faite says:

    Ela 2 boats were produced some years ago probably in partnership with NFA. Can similar boats be produced for those who may want to acquire them?

  2. Peter Rai Kepesa says:

    Thanks Toyota Japan and Ela Motors for the innovations in the aspects of SAFETY improvements on the new coaster bus models.
    PNG has a bad history of roads accidents which in most cases results in fatalities and or life changing injuries being sustained due to the vast rugged terrains of land formations, especially the Highlands and other major highways. I believe that SAFETY is of PARAMOUNT concern to every human being by doing so, it is a tremendous and briliant invention by Toyota.
    Once again thanks Toyota and the Japanese people and Ela Motors for having a heart for PNG people. It’s good to know that there’s areserved space in the factory for PNG alone.

  3. RPerry Clunn says:

    Its great to see ELA Motors address maritime safety requirements and newly designed crafts are built for flotation with other supporting safety equipment to go with this. A positive transformation in this sector
    From a production perspective towards boat-building is it fair to say demand outweighs production at 1,000 units produced each year.
    The re-location to Lae is a strategic move and challenges remain towards increase in production and addressing capacity needs being a singular supplier in this sector.
    Well Done Ela Motors

  4. Lawrence Yaum says:

    If is good that Yahama is seeing the sea conditions of the PNG coastline and ocean to come up with a modified design of boat to counter the high rate of sea going incidence. It is hope that the outboard engine also gets the equal modification in its flotation in the event of boat capsizing in the rough seas.

  5. Peter Cass says:

    Good news that the boat-building facility is re-starting. Sad that Milne Bay is losing the production, the jobs and the incomes.

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