By car, it is increasingly common to see electric and hybrid cars, but what about boats?
While car engines have been moving away from gasoline for years, the boating industry is just starting to catch up.
The Miami International Boat Show returns on Presidents’ Day weekend after skipping 2021 due to the pandemic, with organizers expecting a record 100,000 people and plenty of new things for boating enthusiasts . Among them are several electric boating companies trying to make a name for themselves and raise awareness about what they say is the future of boating.
“Electric boats are agrowing segment. Over the next decade, you’re going to see a huge influx of electric and solar-powered boats,” said Larry Berryman, vice president of Miami Boating at Informa Markets, one of the show’s organizers. “I admit that 10 years ago if you had told me that someone would try to build a 180 horsepower electric motor, I would have laughed, but now there are 200 horsepower motors that don’t depend not fossil fuels.”
Alexandre Mongeon, the founder and CEO of Vision Marine Technologies, is well aware of this doubt of people in the boating industry.
“People thought I was crazy eight years ago,” he said. Mongeon used to race Outerlimits 46 motorboats and decided to start manufacturing electric motors in 2015.
“I saw an empty spot in the market. We launched an electric boat at a race in 2016 and the crowd reaction was invaluable,” he said.
Vision Marine Technologies now offers a 180 horsepower electric motor, which plugs into standard shore power outlets at most marinas. The company has four models of electric boats and is developing a fifth, which will go up to 100 mph.
The 180 horsepower motor takes about 6 hours to charge and when fully charged travels about 50 nautical miles. Mongeon said the electricity needed to charge the boat would cost about $5, compared to about $160 to refuel a gasoline engine.
But an electric boat motor will cost you – they are around 45% more expensive than traditional gasoline engines. But Mongeon said the cost levels off after 175 hours of use because you don’t have to fill the gas tank. He said as batteries become more common, more efficient and cheaper, he estimates electric and gas-powered boat motors will cost about the same by 2025.
While a large enough battery could power huge vessels, Vision Marine markets small (18ft to 24ft) day-use boats on lakes and rivers for middle-class consumers.
The environmental appeal is obvious: yachtsmen would no longer depend on fossil fuels and would pollute the waters less. Plus, the electric motor is odorless and quiet at 10 mph and only hums lightly at 40 mph. Vision Marine officials also claim that their customers will spend less on maintenance costs for electric boats.
Being a small company doing something new, Mongeon said their biggest challenge is educating and informing the public about electric boats.
“Consumers are apprehensive about buying new technologies,” he said. “In fact, I’d like to see big brands like Mercury and Yamaha (automotive companies) embrace electric motors to help me educate the market.”
Consumers can rent Vision’s boats from the company’s headquarters in Newport Beach, California. Soon, South Florida boaters will be able to too. The company will start renting electric boats at Dania Beach as soon as the completion of the new Waves development, a mixed-use project with a marina.
Hypercraft USA is another electric boating company present at the Miami International Boat Show. They focus on the motor and batteries rather than the hull of the boat.
“What’s different about electric motors for boats versus cars is that boats face a lot more resistance than cars going through water,” said Hypercraft USA CEO Jake Hawksworth. . “But we’re at an inflection point in the marine industry where battery technology is improving and becoming more efficient, so they’re more viable for boats.”
He said the marine industry is about 10 years behind the auto industry when it comes to electric motors, but he expects it to catch up quickly.
“There aren’t a lot of electric options for boats right now,” he said. “But I think the technology will develop rapidly over the next two to five years and it will be more accessible to consumers.”
If you are going to the Miami International Boat Show:
- The show runs from February 16-20. Hours are: Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for the boat show can be bought online here.
- The show is spread over six different locations: The Miami Beach Convention Center and adjacent pride park will show boats up to 49 feet, marine accessories and small watercraft like jet skis and paddle boards.
- One Herald Plaza will feature powerboats and powerboats from 30 feet to 135 feet. Proximity Sea Island Marina will have boats available to test drive.
- Marina Park Museum will be dedicated to sailboats.
- Car park is available in garages in the city center and near the convention center. Free water taxis will run between venues, so guests won’t have to park more than once. And there will be shuttles leaving from garages and water taxi stations.
This story was originally published February 17, 2022 06:00.