VILLAGE OF ORCHARD LAKE, Mich. – We associate boating with a day off, but on Thursday, our economics editor found a way to make it his job.
It turns out that serious marine research is being done on a southeastern Michigan lake involving battery-powered boats. As fast as things change on the road with electric car and trucks, it seems they change on the lake just as fast.
Local 4 zipped around Lake Orchard Thursday on an electric tri-toon with the same power as a 250 horsepower motorized motor. Hercules e-mobility engineer Jim Breyer put his “Bolt-boat” through a shakedown cruise.
“You have the power and torque available to pull a skier or tuber like you would in a normal gas powered boat, but you do it much more efficiently,” Breyer said.
Battery boats have equivalent power to traditional boats, but electric boats are around 20% more expensive.
Based in Farmington Hills Hercules initially floated the idea of an electric pickup truck but, armed with a patent for a malleable battery platform, their research led them to bail out the trucks entirely and hit the water, where there is has little competition.
“The efficiency of a gas-powered speedboat on a boat and the amount of pollution it emits is 25 times that of a car, so we really want to have a bigger impact,” Breyer said. .
Julie Tolley is not a boater, but she said she saw a huge opportunity.
“Boaters generally care about the environment and want a clean, quiet experience while on the water,” Tolley said.
A unique selling point is how the battery is hidden under the rear deck and seat.
“The play space on a boat is the back of the boat,” Bryer said. “That’s where everyone is, where you tow your boat…that’s where the party is when you’re at the sandbar, and we’re opening up that deck space.”
And as fast as that Bolt boat was, their journey from trucks to boats was faster.
Four months ago, the Hercules team started working on this project. Now they already have a major multi-million dollar boat builder looking to go electric, and Hercules seems to have a very bright future on the water.
The earliest anyone can buy an electric boat is 2023, according to the company. The company says consumers could also buy a conversion kit for an internal combustion configuration, buy the battery – which will also be available next year – and put it in their boat.
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