A group of former SpaceX rocket engineers have joined the race to build the commercial electric speedboat. Their groundbreaking company, California-based Arc Boats, has secured $4.25 million in seed funding to begin work on a 24-foot water sports boat that will cost around $300,000.
The startup, founded earlier this year, has ambitious plans to sell its first model, “Arc One”, by the end of the year.
The Arc One was designed and built for a seamlessly connected boating experience with over-the-air updates. The electric boat has far fewer moving parts, which means it should reduce maintenance costs, one of the biggest headaches of boat ownership.
Arc’s first boat looks simple but it’s something amazing, at least on paper. The Arc Boats already has a prototype ready. The boat will have a 200kWh, 800-volt battery, about twice the capacity and voltage of Tesla’s current top-tier package. Its 475 HP electric motor will offer a top speed of around 40 mph (64 km/h), and the battery will allow an average use time between three and five hours.
The 24-foot-long (7.3m) boat combines marine-grade aluminum and aerospace manufacturing techniques, resulting in a lightweight, inexpensive, yet strong structure. The boat can accommodate up to 10 people. Plus, the boat will cast a wake behind it, meaning it’ll be fun to use for wake sports like waterskiing.
In addition to the hull, the startup designs its own enclosures for the battery pack, as well as the cooling system. It also develops software, which is expected to be modified and improved via over-the-air updates. Electric boats are not only much easier to maintain and much cheaper to operate, they are also quieter, faster and, most importantly, cleaner with no fumes or pollutants.
While early models will be very expensive, the cost was mostly related to developing the technology, and cheaper versions will be available in the future, Mitch Lee, managing director of Arc, told the Guardian. He said the technology could be applied to larger craft and even ferries could run on electricity in the future.
Kevin Wollscheid, Arc’s chief manufacturing engineer, previously worked at SpaceX for six years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Audrey Gaither, a mechanical engineer at Arc, and Robert Binkowski, a vehicle engineer at Arc, both worked at SpaceX as engineers before moving into electric boat starting.