One of the world’s largest equipment manufacturers has acquired a majority stake in Kreisel Electric, the company building the electric outboard battery for Racebirds in the upcoming E1 Series Powerboat Championship.
John Deere obviously knows electrification is going to be a game-changer in agriculture and construction, and Kreisel definitely knows about high-performance batteries.
The company was founded in 2014 by three brothers – Philipp, Johann and Markus Kreisel – from the village of Freistadt, Austria, who electrified everything from go-karts to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hummer. On the water, their work is at the heart of some of the world’s most impressive electric boats, including the Carbon SAY 29, which holds the world record for fastest production electric boat.
In addition to batteries, John Deere was attracted to Kriesel’s CHIMERO high-speed charging infrastructure platform, which can charge an EV from 0 to 80 percent in 20 minutes and is designed for easy installation. This will allow Deere to offer an all-in-one electrification package to customers in agriculture, construction and other industries that need off-road solutions.
Patented battery technology from years of manufacture
Kreisel battery technology has two patented features that make their products world leaders in energy density and durability. One is a system that uses a contact spring and lasers, instead of soldering, to connect the individual cells in a battery module. The result is high conductivity as well as a fuse for each cell. The other patented feature is their Hollowblock cooling system, which surrounds the cells with a non-conductive liquid which dissipates heat very effectively.
Not sure about battery terminology? Read the Plugboats guide to electric boat batteries
The Kreisel brothers grew up working in the family electronics store while tinkering and experimenting at every opportunity. When they started working on electrifying an old VW Beetle, they needed space and rented a garage-workshop opposite the family home.
They quickly realized they would need to innovate on the battery front to achieve their e-mobility goals. With the enthusiasm and optimism of young people, they approached the task of improving battery efficiency with a completely open mind.
Their progress has been remarkable. The year they launched the company, they set the world acceleration record for go-karts with an electric model that went from 0 to 100 km/h (63 mph) in 3.1 seconds, smashing the old record by a third of a second.
They began to catch the attention of Tier 1 automakers when they performed the same feat on a 1960s Porsche 910, turning it into an electric “EVEX 910E” that could go from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds (0-60 mph in 2.4 seconds), with a top speed of 300 km/h (185 mph) and a range of 450 km (280 miles).
“You made my dream come true”
This led to an order for 2,000 batteries for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, and they cemented their growing reputation by showing VW how to increase the energy storage capacity of an eGolf by 130%. They were running out of garage space (!) and the ground was broken on a gleaming 7,000 square meter factory, test and R&D center (≈ 68,000 square feet).
Fellow Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger had taken note of his compatriots and asked if they could electrify his Mercedes G-Class SUV, which they did, by tearing up the ICE and installing a 360kW electrical system ( ≈ 490 hp).
After a year of driving, he came back with another challenge and visited the new factory in September 2017 to see the results. “You made one of my dreams a reality,” he told the Kreisels before a congregation of European e-mobility leaders. “Everyone told me I couldn’t turn on my electric Hummer. But then you came – and you did! Thank you for your dedication and for your vision of a green future.
Electric speedboat battery powers world record
Another innovator who came to visit the Kreisels was Karl Wagner, CEO of SAY Carbon Yachts. He had previously been CEO of CarboTech, which made carbon fiber components for Formula 1 and high-end sports cars.
SAY makes incredible luxury carbon fiber outboards with ICE engines as big as 483hp and came up with the idea of chasing the world record for a production (rather than unique) electric boat by working with Kreisel to work their magic on a SAY Carbon 29.
On June 24, 2018, they took to the waters of Lake Zell in Zell am See, Austria with SAY pilot Claas Wollschläger at the helm and set the record for 50 knots (93 km/h, 57.5 mph). During one of the runs, the boat actually reached a speed of 95 km/h, but the rules of the international motor boat authority UIM (Union International de Motonautic) require 6 runs which are then averaged.
All of these achievements have made Kreisel the natural choice to partner with the new UIM E1 series – the world’s first and only electric motorboat racing circuit. The RaceBird hydrofoil boats participating in E1 will have a maximum peak power of 150 kW and a battery capacity of 35 kWh. Kreisel’s bespoke solution for RaceBirds will allow them to achieve quick acceleration and long range between charges.
Rodi Basso, co-founder and CEO of E1, says: “E1 and Kreisel’s shared vision to electrify future recreational boats made them the obvious choice as the official battery partner for the championship. As an engineer myself, I’m excited to work alongside these leaders in their field to deliver an electric motor boat and push the boundaries of performance capability.
Going back to John Deere’s investment, the partnership is similar to the arrangement of GM’s $150 million stake in electric outboard company Pure Watercraft, where each company brings its unique strengths to the marriage.
Everything will be electric by 2050 at the latest
Kreisel Electric will retain its employees, brand name and trademark, and continue to operate from its state-of-the-art Austrian plant to grow its land and sea electric mobility customer base. It now has approximately 160 employees.
“Deere will provide the expertise, global footprint and financing to help accelerate this growth in key markets,” said Pierre Guyot, senior vice president, John Deere Power Systems. “For us, their experience in the market will benefit Deere as we develop our battery electric vehicle portfolio and apply it across a broad product portfolio.”
From the moment the young Kreisels started experimenting in their home in Freistadt, they had big ambitions, goals and plans to make emobility accessible to everyone on a daily basis. Markus told German broadcaster DW last year: “The vision is very clear. By 2050 at the latest, we see that everything will be electric. The world needs it, and the great thing is that it can be implemented on a sustainable and regional basis.
Gazing at the stunning mountains and countryside around their headquarters, he said: “Our whole team is made up of very down to earth people who want to do something for the next generation. Nature is beautiful. We all want to help make this happen.
Exciting things are happening every day in electric boats and boating.
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