When I used to work at the Apple Store helping to solve people’s difficulties with iPods, iPhones, and all other manner of iProblems, we’d occasionally see a device that looked as if it was one of our products, but something just wasn’t right. Maybe the font used in the lettering wasn’t correct, or perhaps the color was off. Generally, if we had such questions, the product wasn’t made by Apple at all, but by some unknown manufacturer trying to make a product that looked like the “real deal.”
Something similar happened to me as I wandered through the insanely huge 2014 Miami International Boat Show. Not a giant, lighted display of off-brand, marinized music players, but some outboard engines that looked an awful lot like… well… what Johnson outboards used to look like. And with a name like “Evendoo” pasted across the cowlings, it was obvious that there was some relation to the Evinrude and Sea-Doo brands owned by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP).
The Evendoo outboards were being displayed by the Ningbo Jian Chi Power Products Company, Ltd., which is based in Ningbo, China. There were two- or four-stroke varieties available, and the offerings ranged in size from two to six horsepower. Long and short shaft flavors were available, too. But the most noticeable thing about these engines was the similarities they had to past and current BRP products.
Take the lettering. The font was not only similar in appearance, but also used the recognizable red and black Evinrude and Johnson brand colors. The shape of the cowlings were similar, also, and there was even a logo pasted on them that looked much like the one BRP is currently using. So when I got back to my hotel room, I started to dig around the Internet looking for more information on these Far East engines.
According to the company’s website, “All of our key engineers come from the previous BRP outboards factory, with more than 20 years professional R&D experience of outboard product.” So there’s the BRP tie. Allegedly. Truth be told, there was such a language barrier in dealing with the folks at the booth that I never was able to ask about the similarities between their outboards and BRP’s. Also, when I tried to reach out to BRP, I was unable to reach anyone who could discuss these Chinese-made engines.
And who knows, maybe it’s all on the straight and narrow. I guess what I found most interesting was that China’s manufacturing brute is starting to find it’s way into the marine industry. Today, those Evendoo engines are being labeled on the company’s website as “Earrow TEC.” Sound familiar? The name is oddly similar to Evinrude’s E-TEC outboards.
Will you be able to find an “Evendoo” or “Earrow TEC” outboard (or other less-expensive off-brand engines) in a marine supply shop near you anytime soon? Who knows, but if the electronics industry is any gauge, the answer is yes.
To get a peek at these imported outboards, view the First Look Video we filmed onsite at the Miami International Boat Show. Or, if you speak Chinese or can manage the quirks of Google Translate, take a gander at the Jianchi Power web site.