Electric Boats – The Future of Water Transportation

California startup makes waves throughout the maritime industry with the recent announcement of their 24-ft electrical watercraft. This news comes as the first of many from a company already referred to as the Tesla for boats.

Electric Boats – The Future of Water Transportation

With climate change awareness reaching new highs, companies across the globe are searching for ways to create alternative products that can cater to the increasing demand for sustainable products. Predominately seen in the form of alternative energy options, lowering waste, and even pushing for legislative change, the shift toward a greener future has finally arrived.

Roughly a decade ago, we saw the beginning of the mainstream adoption of electric cars. Some predict that the maritime industry, particularly, privately owned vessels, will be the next sector to take off. Often touted as a more luxurious form of travel in the western world, getting around via boats is far from a new concept. Nowadays, some boats are even decked out with nicer appliances, newer technology, and more power than the average US home.

The recreational boating market is only expected to grow in the future, leaving the market wide open for companies to integrate newer and more eco-friendly technology. California startup, Arc, is doing just that. Sources report that the company just recently announced the plans for their anticipated launch; an electric boat. Coming in with a price tag aimed at $300,000 and the futuristic technology to follow, this announcement has sent ripples through the industry as a potential pioneer for eco-boats.

A Wave of Potential

Though impressive and highly anticipated, Arc isn’t the first company to attempt alternative energy-powered boats. However, they are among the first to attempt to do so with electricity, as utilizing solar energy is the route often taken.

The company has made it their goal to create an efficient battery-powered boat, release it to the public, and aid in the industry shift toward a more sustainable option. Taking inspiration from the infamous Tesla, Arc plans to release their first boat at a higher price point and eventually lower that price as demand soars, and the manufacturing process refines.

Arc CEO, Mitch Lee, even states that “Boating is amazing. Boat ownership is awful, and we want to solve all the awful parts about boat ownership, and expand the boating market. If we make a boat that, yes, is premium to the market, but it lowers the headache of boat ownership and amplifies the magic of being out on the water... I think that’s a big selling point for us. And if you kind of pair that with all the macro trends of everything going electric, all of that I think sets us up for the right product, the right market fit, the right time.”

The boat is equipped with a 200kWh, 800-volt battery pack that can reach speeds of 40mph and lasts up to 4 hours before needing to be recharged. What sets this vessel aside from other competitors in the market is the ability to make a wake, making the boat a more desirable option amongst watersport enthusiasts. The impressive part is that the process of making a wake requires a large amount of energy and therefore, force, in turn showing off the durable battery power that the boat will yield.

Another aspect of the prototype will be its hull design. Typically, boat hulls are comprised of some sort of composite materials, usually carbon fiber. With Arc’s boat, the hull will be made out of aluminum, resulting in a lighter, less labor-intensive, cheaper, and faster product.

The aluminum will also act as a structural component with integration into the battery, which is said to stretch along the entire base and up both sides of the boat – again, very reminiscent of Tesla. In addition, the company is building its own battery-pack enclosure and cooling system, which will further aid in the price drop as the manufacturing process becomes more streamline and the materials can be purchased in bulk.

The Environmental Footprint of the Maritime Industry

The European Commission estimates that in 2019, the maritime transportation industry accounted for nearly 2.5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. In the EU alone, the commission found that 138 million tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere in 2018, the equivalence to the emissions released by the entire country of Belgium on an annual basis.

Further, the environmental degradation resulting from waste during the manufacturing process, use-stage, and end-of-life-stage must also be considered. This process can greatly affect the surrounding marine life and contribute greatly to the never-ending plastic waste problem that is currently plaguing many of the world’s oceans.

Humans can also be affected by this process indirectly via a process called bioaccumulation – when “pollutants (metals) enter a food chain and relates to the accumulation of contaminants, in biological tissues by aquatic organisms, from sources such as water, food, and particles of suspended sediment.” Most notorious with mercury, the process is essentially when a fish -who previously ingest a pollutant- is ingested by humans. That pollutant ends up in said human and can potentially cause harm to their health.

All of that said, the boating industry is a great contender to further implement sustainability into the market. With companies such as Arc working toward creating alternatively fueled boats, we can expect to see an even greater transition from other players in the industry. In addition, the company’s consistent comparison to Tesla can aid in their brand image and allow them to potentially reach a wider range of audiences.

When the company releases its prototype for sale, it will be able to receive valuable feedback that can aid in the continued improvement of its product. This will also aid in the eventual price decrease, again, as seen with Tesla.

Ultimately, the future of the boating industry is ever-growing. And with companies such as Arc creating new and sustainable products, we can expect to see a domino effect of other industry leaders following suit, leading to a healthier world where climate change is no longer at the forefront.


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