X Shore builds high-performance electric boats. Taking cues from the advances in the automotive industry, the Swedish marque’s latest Eelex 8000 electric boat is powered by intelligent software that can be revised remotely so the watercrafts can be regularly updated for improvements in technology and capability. Launched in the US earlier this year, planned updates to the boat include self-docking, through software and hardware advancements to adapt to consumer needs and wants.
Much like electric road travel, boating electrically is gaining momentum. Earlier this year, General Motors acquired a 25% stake in Pure Watercraft, the Seattle company specializing in electric outboard motors for boats of all shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles start-up Arc has raised some $30 million to make high-end electric boats using technology designed by former SpaceX engineers.
I caught up with X Shore’s chief executive officer Jenny Keisu to discusses the possibilities of electric boating.
Nargess Banks: I like your company’s brand mission statement, which reads: “We’re not here to reinvent the wheel, but rather to right the ship”. How do you see your position within the sustainable boating scene?
Jenny Keisu: X Shore is built on three pillars: design, technology and sustainability. We want to drive the transformation in the boating industry and make it sustainable, without disturbing or damaging nature. We aim to build with sustainable materials and in a sustainable and responsible way.
You say your crafts can be used from cocktail cruising to adventure boating and watersports. Does the advanced electric powertrain help with these experiences?
Our boats show how boaters can be one with nature while enjoying the luxuries of boating. The Eelex 8000 is 100% electric and therefore silent, with next to no water, air or noise pollution. It speaks to our commitment to truly making an impact on an industry that has a history of practices that are not environmentally friendly. We hope to help a traditionally old-school industry evolve to support a cleaner environment.
The automotive world has also had to address its more traditional past and has thus been slow to commit to full electrification. How does this differ from the nautical world?
Even though the concept of boating going electric has been in discussion for only a handful of years, we’re already seeing an uptick in the interest around electric boats on a much quicker timeline than that of electric cars. Meanwhile, customers switching to electric vehicles are seeing the benefits and are contributing to the conversion to electric boats. It has become the natural choice for them to choose an electric boat instead of a traditional one.
Can you explain the modular design and intelligent software that is at core of X Shore vessels?
X Shore boats are made with a modular design, allowing customers to easily shift the boat layout to meet their needs. With 15 different designs to choose from, the Eelex 8000 can easily switch from a fishing boat during the day to a boat perfect for watersports, such as wakeboarding, to a cocktail cruising boat in the evening.
Our boats are outfitted with our proprietary software, which allows boaters to connect with them from afar, via an app or smartwatch. Users can monitor engine levels and battery charging levels, turn the boat on and off, track the boat location, lock and unlock the boat and more.
What’s the advantage?
Over-the-air updates for the boat and software allow owners to have access to the most recent technology — similar to how you would update your smartphone. This not only keeps boating exciting but means our customers will not need to buy a new boat every few years for the updated technology.
The battery electric technology must have advanced greatly from your first prototype of 2018, the eElectric Smögen 8000?
We’ve learnt a lot regarding boat and drivetrain design since and are working alongside our battery partner, Kreisel, to continuously increase boat performance. We now have the best performing battery on the market. The Eelex 8000 is run with a 225KW electric motor and dual 63 kWh lithium-ion batteries. On a full charge, it can travel about 100 nautical miles at lower speeds. This makes it a great day boat for the lake, traveling up the intercoastal and near shore. Boaters can take the Eelex 8000 out for the day and charge the boat at the marina overnight which takes about five to eight hours. Using a supercharger, the battery will reach full charge in about one to two hours.
Does the electric power also limit its usage?
For many, the Eelex 8000 is not their only boat and is even used as a yacht tender or day-boat. That being said, if someone is looking for an overnight boat or a boat for longer deep-sea excursions, this may not be the best fit due to the charging needs and design.
Do you work with ecological materials in design and construction?
We always strive to find the smartest and most sustainable solutions, like using cork instead of teak and it’s possible to order our boats with natural fibers made out of flax instead of fiberglass. We are aiming to be able to offer a 100% circular boat in the future — by using better materials.
That’s interesting. How close are you to becoming fully sustainable as a company?
We will be net-zero in Scope 1 and 2 by 2025. But in order to be able to call our boats circular, we must also include all our subcontractors in this equation. Since we are dependent on innovation in their ranks, it will likely take a little longer to reach net-zero in Scope 3. Our goal for this is 2030 when the boats will be 100% circular, both in our own production and with our subcontractors.
Are customers open and willing to pay more for an electric craft?
An Eelex 8000 costs about the same as a combustion boat of a similarly high standard, but you get more for your money. You save on running costs, on maintenance and seasonal boating upkeep, such as winterizing your boat. Our boats require very little maintenance and are easy to keep in tip-top shape which is key whether you are a consistent boater, or one that takes the boat out a few times a year.
Many of our customers already own an electric car and are looking to continue their journey in sustainable transportation. And while some are wealthy individuals, buyers in general are willing to pay more for an electric craft if it has the luxury, usage and value they’re looking for.
What are the opportunities for a company like X Shore to push forward and make sustainable boating exciting?
The opportunities around making sustainable boating exciting are endless. Just because you are traveling sustainably, doesn’t mean you cannot have high level technology and luxury. People will not choose a sustainable alternative if it’s not better than existing ones. The sustainable experience must be better than the traditional one. The same goes for the automotive industry. Customers switch to electric cars since they are faster, cooler, have a better user experience and are better for the environment. This this is why buyers choose electric boats.
Read about French designer Philippe Starck’s solar powered gondola; see Pininfarina’s Oceanco Kairos, a yacht designed for meditation and contemplation and drift away on the old-school hand-built wooden Adirondack Guideboat. Also see what the yacht designers Bannenberg & Rowell say about the post hedonistic future of yachts.