Former SpaceX engineers race to build first commercial electric speedboat | Small business

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

The Arc Boat company has announced that it has raised $ 4.25million (£ 3million) in seed funding to begin work on a 24-foot, 475-horsepower craft that will cost around $ 300,000.

The Los Angeles-based company, which is backed by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (an early backer for Facebook and Airbnb), said the first model of the Arc One boat would be available for sale here. the end of the year.

Mitch Lee, chief executive of Arc, said he wanted to build electric boats because of the impact conventional gasoline or diesel boats have on the environment.

“They don’t just do two miles per gallon, they also pump a lot of these vapors through the water,” Lee said. “In addition, there is the enormous noise pollution factor [of conventional boats] and it is terrible for marine life. With gasoline-powered boats, it’s not just carbon emissions into the air, but also water pollution and noise pollution. Electric boats take all of that away. “

Lee said electric ships will 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 have always thought that electric boats made sense. They will be faster, quieter and much cheaper and easier to use and maintain. “

While the first models will be very expensive, Lee said the cost is mainly related to the development of the technology, and cheaper versions will be available in the future. “This is really Tesla’s approach – we are starting the market and using that income to fund research and development and work our way down the market,” he said.

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

“We started in February without a team, without money and without a warehouse,” he said. “By December, we will be selling the Arc One and we are aggressively hiring because we want to accelerate the adoption of electric boats on a whole range of boats.”

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Lee founded the company with his 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 reusable orbital-class rocket. in the world. Other than Lee, all Arc employees have some experience working at SpaceX.

The Arc boat, which is said to have a top speed of 40 mph, joins a number of startups rushing to make the first full-scale production of electric speedboats. The Monaco Yacht Club this month organized an electric boat prototype competition to “create 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 was crowned the fastest electric vessel.

An international electric motor boat racing competition is scheduled to begin in 2023.

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