Nautique ski boat goes all-electric

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Correct Craft has developed a prototype 19-foot ski boat powered only by electricity. The Ski Nautique E — a 2008 model with an LOA of 19 feet, 6 inches, and a beam of 7 feet, 7 inches — can make as many as 30 passes towing skiers before it needs recharging, about 90 minutes of continual use, says Greg Meloon, vice president of marketing and product development for Nautique Boats.

The prototype Ski Nautique E has a top end of 40 mph.

“Most people take six to eight passes in a ski set, which means three to four skiers could ski in one session [on one charge],” he says.
Using electric automobile motors, LTS Marine designed and built the marinized propulsion system, says Michel Soucy, director of business development for the Canadian company, which specializes in integrated electric drivetrains (www.ltsmarine.com). The system includes two 103-hp motors with a transfer case linked to a single shaft and prop. Two battery banks producing 77 kW — sealed inside cases on the port and starboard sides — provide the power. Recharge times are about 12 hours with a 110-volt supply and four hours with a 220-volt supply, Soucy says.
I got a chance to go on a demo ride during this year’s Miami International Boat Show. Terri Schneider, marketing coordinator for Nautique Boats, picked me up at the Miami Beach Convention Center and drove 17 miles inland to the Greater Miami Ski Club. The Ski Nautique E was in the water and waiting for us on a bright, warm afternoon in South Florida.
The Orlando, Fla.-based boatbuilder wanted to show that the electric propulsion system can deliver the power, torque and speed to pull a water skier. World champion slalom skier Chris Parrish was on hand to help with that.
I hopped aboard, the skier went into the water and the driver punched the throttle. All I heard was the sound of water against the hull, the wind, and the rumble of the shaft and prop. The boat quickly pulled Parrish up and hit its target speed of 36 mph. Top speed is 40 mph. Pretty impressive. The 215-pound skier put on a show behind the boat, cutting back and forth across the wake.
This is a prototype, and it’s too early to say when it might become a production boat.
“We will continue to develop this project … keeping the public informed of where we’re headed,” Meloon says. “We would like to see in the next few years the opportunity to offer this to be purchased by our consumers — and it may be sooner than that.”
Meloon says Correct Craft is committed to pursuing alternative power. “Electric power has become a big reality in the automotive world,” he says. “Since our engines are sourced from the automotive world, we feel electric power is going to impact the powertrains we have in the future, whether it be a hybrid or a pure electric boat. We need to be prepared for changes in the availability of fuels. Also, as lake restrictions increase, electric motors with pollution-free operation become a bigger possibility.”
Contact: Correct Craft, (407) 855-4141. www.nautique.com

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue.