A team of former SpaceX rocket engineers have joined the race to build the first commercial electric speedboat.
The Arc Boat company announced it had raised $4.25m ($6m AUD) in seed funding to start work on a 24ft 475-horsepower craft that will cost about $300,000 USD.
The LA-based company, which is backed by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (an early backer of Facebook and Airbnb), said the first model of the Arc One boat would be available for sale by the end of the year.
Mitch Lee, Arc’s chief executive, said he wanted to build electric boats because of the impact conventional petrol- or diesel-powered boats have on the environment.
“They not only get just two miles to the gallon, they also pump a lot of those fumes into the water,” Lee said. “In addition, there is the huge noise pollution factor [of conventional boats] and that is awful for the marine life. With gas-powered boats it’s not just carbon emissions into the air, it’s also polluting the water and causing noise pollution. Electric boats eliminate all that.”
Lee said electric vessels would also reduce the hassle of boat ownership. “I love being out on the water, being on a boat is so much fun, but owning a boat is problematic,” he said. “I have always believed that electric boats make sense. They will be quicker, quieter and way cheaper and easier to operate and maintain.”
While the first models will be very expensive, Lee said the cost was mostly in developing the technology and cheaper versions would be available in the future. “It is very much the Tesla approach – we are starting up market and using that income to finance research and development and work our way down market,” he said.
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