ELECTRIC cars are rapidly developing, but their boat counterparts lag behind gas-powered watercraft sales.
The U.S. Sun spoke to Robert Butler, owner of Electric Boats of Connecticut, to learn more about these vessels’ tough market position.
Electric Boats of Connecticut represents Duffy Electric Boats and Vision Marine Technologies.
Butler explained that electric boating isn’t a recent concept, stating: “Electric boats I know have this perception of being sort of this new creation based on green technology and finding a cleaner way to travel, but actually both Vision Marine Technologies and Duffy Electric Boats have been around for decades.
“Duffy Electric Boats first started back in 1968 with the creation of their first boat, and then incorporated in 1970, so about 35,000 boats worldwide, and they are quite popular in the warmer waters traditionally.”
When asked about the challenges an electric boat company faces competing against gas-powered watercraft, Butler said: “The marine industry has been built on petroleum; it’s been built on speed.
“Even the commercials you see for the trade show are all about water skiing and the enjoyment of the wind in the hair, the water in the face.
“So with electric technology, we’re still at the beginning cusp of getting to those speeds.
“All the products we currently represent are no-wake watercraft, so they’re designed specifically for low-speed cruising, socializing, sunset cruises, picnic cruises, and swimming.
“So I think right now, because electric [boating] is in a phase where storage is kind of a limitation, that we will see probably another five-plus years before you see a broader use of electric technology.”
Butler added: “But for those boats that don’t have a high-speed demand, electric boats are here now and can grow, especially in the river and lake communities where going 25mph for an hour isn’t something that’s needed.”
This professional boat salesman listed the current average speed of an electric vessel at 5 to 6mph.
When asked how fast he thinks electric boats will travel soon, Butler said: “I do think we could probably see a ten knot, 15 knot [11 to 17mph] increase in the near future.
“I know Duffy Electric Boats is looking at that technology now to integrate aviation-related materials to get a much lighter platform to still maintain the strength and utilize some of the other technologies available to get on plane to produce a higher speed.
“For Duffy, it’s probably a couple of years away from release. With Vision Marine Technologies, they’re taking a different approach, they just introduced a 180-horsepower electric engine that’s an outboard only, so they’re now in the process of marketing that to the end user manufacturers to be able to supply along with their boats.”