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Last November, in the span of one week, three announcements suggested that the U.S. is about to get more serious about electric powerboating.

First, Navier, a Silicon Valley startup, and Maine’s Lyman-Morse boatyard announced that the iconic builder would construct a fully self-driving, electric hydrofoiling boat for the California-based company.

Within days, Seattle-based Pure Watercraft and General Motors reported that the automaker had made a $125 million cash investment to take a 25 percent stake in the 9-year-old electric boat company. GM said it would also contribute engineering, supply chain, manufacturing and EV know-how to the partnership.

A couple of days later, Arc Boat Company, a Los Angeles-based startup with former Tesla and Space X employees, announced that it had raised $30 million from investors like Will Smith, Kevin Durant and Sean “Diddy” Combs to develop electric boats and technologies to compete with gas-powered boats.

The Navier 27 will be built by Maine’s Lyman-Morse boatyard. 

The Navier 27 will be built by Maine’s Lyman-Morse boatyard. 

The Navier announcement was visually striking. The boat looks very similar to electric foilers currently planned by Scandinavian builders, but the company claims it will have an ambitious range of 75 miles at a steady 20 knots. According to the Navier website, the 27 will fly up to 4 feet above waves and come equipped with aerospace stabilization technology that promises self-driving capability. The boat was designed for fishing, waterskiing, family outings, or yacht tender duties.

Navier was founded by two MIT-educated engineers. CEO Sampriti Bhattacharyya has a PhD in mechanical engineering and extensive hydrodynamic-design experience, and has built flight control systems at NASA. CTO Reo Baird holds degrees in aerospace and electrical and computer engineering, has extensive professional experience in the marine industry and specializes in autonomous systems. Baird has also logged over 10,000 ocean miles.

Bhattacharyya and Baird recruited naval architect Paul Bieker of Seattle-based Bieker Boats for his hydrofoiling experience. Bieker was Oracle Team USA’s principal design engineer for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.

The selection of Lyman-Morse as Navier’s builder adds even more credibility to the start-up. Lyman-Morse will make the pre-production models and produce a limited number of Navier 27s for early adopters who purchase boats as part of Navier’s Pioneer Program. Navier says the 27 will be unveiled at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in October 2022.

Arc’s first boat design is a $300,000, limited-edition luxury model without foils, but the company’s long-term goal is to electrify everything on the water. CEO Mitch Lee and his co-founder, former SpaceX engineer Ryan Cook, plan to develop electric watercraft for various uses at various price points.

Arc is starting with a purpose-built hull and purpose-built battery packs. The company says it has a working alpha prototype called the Arc One, a 24-foot aluminum boat that produces 475 horsepower, has a top speed of 35 knots and can run between 3 to 5 hours on a single charge. Arc plans to produce fewer than 25 Arc Ones, which should appeal to watersports enthusiasts like wake boarders and waterskiers. According to Arc’s Head of Product Ted Herringshaw, the Arc team already waterskied behind a prototype of the Arc One. According to the company, first deliveries will occur in spring 2022.

Pure Watercraft’s 50-hp electric Pure Outboard

Pure Watercraft’s 50-hp electric Pure Outboard

Pure Watercraft makes all-electric outboard motor systems and partners with major boat manufacturers to build electric boats, including a pontoon barge, a fishing boat and two RIBs. The company already has a 50-hp Pure Outboard, which it claims can support a nearly 4-hour, 20-mile fishing trip with 15 percent of power to spare.

GM’s investment in Pure Watercraft is part of its commitment to put $35 billion in all things EV by the end of 2025, including boats and other vehicles. The two companies will co-develop battery technology, “integrating GM technology into a variety of applications,” according to a statement from the automaker.

Will these products make electric boating more popular in America? That’s yet to be seen, but the electric boating industry may have just arrived where Tesla was less than a decade ago. 

This article was originally published in the February 2022 issue.



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