Summer ends on Thursday, but from next year holidaymakers lucky enough to enjoy a body of water during the summer months will be able to enjoy a quieter and, importantly, more eco-friendly environment. The Vision Marine Technologies group from Boisbriand, which developed the E-Motion, a 180 hp electric motor for outboard boats, is actively preparing to commercialize its prototype and has just signed an agreement to electrify the boats of the Beneteau group.
Posted at 6:00 am
Jean Philippe Decarie
Alexandre Mongeon and his partner Patrick Bobby have been working on manufacturing an all-electric pleasure boat since 2015.
In 2012, the two partners bought the Riopel Marine company from Saint-Eustache, which had started in 1995 with the production of small boats with two-speed electric motors and a range of 15 hours at a cruising speed of 10 km/h.
“The company ceased operations two years ago. We bought the business, dusted off the molds and resumed production under the Canadian Electric Boats name.
“From 2013 to 2020 we doubled the company’s turnover every year, but in 2015 we decided to develop our own electric propulsion technology with 180 hp outboard motors,” explains Alexandre Mongeon in the small 15- to 22-foot boat assembly plant in Boisbriand .
To fund this project, the two partners are planning public funding on the NASDAQ platform in 2018. It was only in November 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, that the group managed to go public by realizing a financing of US$27 million.
“In 2019 we managed to accelerate a first boat with a BMW battery to 50 km/h. In 2021, we conducted another test at 49mph with our Chief Technology Officer, Xavier Montagne [80 km/h] “, specifies the CEO.
This summer, in Ozark, Missouri, Vision Marine Technologies set a world record by electrically propelling a speedboat equipped with two 180-horsepower E-Motion motors to a speed of 167 km/h (104 mph).
A market to be conquered
Vision Marine Technologies designed and developed the components of the E-Motion engines and worked with strategic suppliers to have them manufactured, including a 700 volt lithium battery, power plant with potentiometer and charging system.
Canadian automotive supplier Linamar assembles e-motion marine engines at its Guelph, Ontario facility with an industrial manufacturing capacity of 18,000 units.
“We have signed agreements with three major boat builders including Limestone and most recently this summer Beneteau ensuring a global presence. The first engines will be delivered in December and for the year 2023 we plan to install between 300 and 1000. By 2025, we could deliver up to 7,000 of our systems,” predicts the CEO.
Vision Marine Technologies integrates the system in Boisbriand into an initial model and then sends a team to the manufacturer to demonstrate the installation. The manufacturer will then order its engines directly from Linamar.
We stopped producing high performance boats because we prefer to sell our technology to big manufacturers without competing with them. We have no industrial ambitions, we don’t want to do it like Lion or Taiga and we have to invest far too much.
E-motion motors are not only much quieter and more polluting than heat engines, they are also much more economical to run, although they are 40% more expensive to buy than petrol engines.
A day on a body of water can cost several hundred dollars for a boater powered by a heat engine. On the same day, a boat powered by an E-Motion electric motor costs less than $10.
“We installed battery charging inside the boat. Boaters do not need to use charging stations. They connect to their marina with a common outlet. The additional costs of the electric motor are amortized after 175 operating hours,” emphasizes Alexandre Mongeon.
“We chose to develop a 180hp engine because that is the average horsepower of the 330,000 outboards sold in the United States in 2020. The industry expects to sell 1.4 million outboard motors in 2025 because boaters no longer want bilge engines that take up a lot of space and are noisier,” stresses the CEO.
Although Vision Marine Technologies is committed to specializing in the marketing of high performance electric motors, the company continues to manufacture and charter small electric boats with dual power engines.
“We have a rental location in Newport, California with 30 of our electric boats. In 2022, this activity generated $4.5 million in revenue, covering the company’s fixed costs. We will open another rental center in Florida in 2023. Electric boats are very popular,” says the CEO of Vision Marine Technologies.