Vision Marine Is Challenging Polluting Boats With Its Powerful Electric Motor

Vision Marine Is Challenging Polluting Boats With Its Powerful Electric Motor

The tide is shifting. As electric cars gain momentum on land, the nautical world also appears to be warming up to cleaner transport. Recently General Motors revealed an affordable electric pontoon vessel created alongside Pure Watercraft, the Seattle maker of electric boats in which the car giant has a part ownership. But even though the environmental advantage in shifting to electric boats is clear, the industry is largely hesitant to fully embrace the new era of transport.

A slew of companies are addressing this by advancing the technology to be affordable and desirable. One such firm is Vision Marine Technologies who has set out to challenge the traditional boating space with its latest electric engine. The E-Motion 180E is a purpose-built 180-horsepower outboard engine that is silent and smokeless and claims to be the most powerful electric motor in today’s leisure boating industry.

I spoke with Vision Marine’s CEO and director Alexandre Mongeon to discusses the opportunities and challenges facing the electric boat market.

Nargess Banks: You say you’re disrupting the traditional market with your E-Motion 180E, but how?

Alexandre Mongeon: This is the first fully electric purpose-built outboard powertrain system with 180-horsepower and it’s the most technically advanced electric outboard motor on the market today. The 180E produces zero pollution and zero emission, needs marginal maintenance and offers a noiseless environment. It can top more than 50mph and turns any boat into an electric one. Additionally, we have recorded powertrain efficiencies of more than 94%, well above the 54% efficiency that we recorded for our principal competitor’s product.

What advantages does it have over other electric motors?

The E-Motion powertrain technology provides what we believe to be the only scaled production ready, high-performance electric outboard for watercraft that offers exceptional speed and torque otherwise not available within the boating industry. Right now, the boating industry is experiencing a two-year backlog and supply chain challenges. We have strategically entered into partnerships that allow the company to be able to scale production to accommodate strong initial demand from major boating manufacturers.

There is a clear shift towards electrification on land and water. What are the possibilities within the marine scene?

For decades, hybrid and electric vehicles have been gaining momentum as our society pushes for cleaner energy and now, we are seeing the same push in the boating industry. In the early 2000s, eight million speedboats in the US released 15 times more pollutants annually into the environment than the catastrophic oil spill produced by the oil tanker Exxon Valdez in 1989. Electric power in the marine scene is critical in the solving the problems of our waterways. Electric motors can minimize water pollution caused by traditional internal combustion engine, reduce emissions and conserve energy. In turn, this directly contributes to zero pollution, zero emission and a noiseless environment.

It seems like a win-win scenario, but what are the limitations?

Really the only limitations we see are accessibility and adoption. These two challenges are interconnected in that the technology is here, but not necessarily widely available at this point. Even if it were, there are so many false narratives and concerns floating around in terms of batteries and range for electric boats that it makes boaters hesitant to want to explore the idea further.

And the possibilities?

Vision Marine is just one company and we are still in the process of generating greater visibility of what we do. At this stage it’s just about getting people to understand that what we have is a real and viable option for them and will yield better results than they ever had with a boat powered by a combustion engine.

Who are your typical customers?

Mainly major boat manufacturers who have customers placing orders for fully electric boats. We provide them with our electric outboard powertrain systems to be fitted into their boats.

And your competitors?

We don’t consider other electric boat and engine manufacturers as competitors. Our competition is the entire internal combustion engine industry. The more players in the electric boating space the better, because it will not only be good for our business through increased visibility of the industry, but it will also make a significant impact on the greening of the waterways.

How do you view the future of electric boating?

Major industry players such as GM are entering into this space, but it will be paramount for these companies to make significant strides here in order to see that more holistic approach to sustainability.

There are huge financial opportunities in the electrification of boating and so, if for no other reason, the private sector should be getting more involved here. And though Vision Marine is leading the way in terms of advanced technology capabilities, it doesn’t mean we don’t need other players in the game – especially those with brand name recognition to help advance this effort to improve the health of our waterways.

See how Swedish brand X Shore sees the future of e-boating; 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.