Ex-SpaceX engineers in race to build first commercial electric speedboat | Small business


A team of former SpaceX rocket engineers has joined the race to build the first commercial electric speedboat.

The Arc Boat company has announced that it has raised $4.25m (£3m) in seed funding to start work on a 24ft, 475hp boat which will cost around $300,000.

The Los Angeles-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 will be available for sale from end of the year.

Mitch Lee, managing director of Arc, said he wanted to build electric boats because of the impact conventional petrol or diesel boats have on the environment.

“Not only are they only two miles per gallon, but they also pump a lot of those vapors into the water,” Lee said. “In addition, there is the huge noise pollution factor [of conventional boats] and it’s terrible for marine life. With gas-powered boats, it’s not just carbon emissions into the air, but also water pollution and noise pollution. Electric boats eliminate all of that.

Lee said electric vessels would also reduce the hassle of owning a boat. “I love being on the water, being on a boat is so much fun, but owning a boat is so horrible,” he said. “I always believed that electric boats made sense. They will be faster, quieter and much cheaper and easier to use and maintain.

While early models will be very expensive, Lee said the cost was mostly related to technology development and cheaper versions will be available in the future. “That’s really Tesla’s approach – we start the market and use that revenue to fund research and development and work our way down the market,” he said.

Lee said the technology could be applied to larger craft and even ferries could run on electricity in the future.

“We started in February with no team, no money and no warehouse,” he said. “By December, we’ll be selling the Arc One, and we’re hiring aggressively because we want to accelerate the adoption of electric boats across a range of watercraft.”

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Lee founded the company with fellow mechanical engineer Ryan Cook. Cook, the company’s chief technology officer, was previously the chief mechanical engineer at Elon Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX, where he worked on the Falcon 9 rocket, the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. world. Aside from Lee, all Arc employees have some experience working at SpaceX.

The Arc boat, which is said to have a top speed of 40mph, joins a number of startups racing to achieve the first large-scale production of electric speedboats. The Yacht Club of Monaco organized a competition for electric boat prototypes this month to “infuse a new vision and promote all positive approaches to align yachting” with global targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Swedish hydrofoil Candela C-7 has been crowned the fastest electric ship.

An international electric motorboat racing competition is expected to start in 2023.


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