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Why a useful and competitive electric powered boat world is 15-20 years away

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Why a useful and competitive electric powered boat world is 15-20 years away

Old 11-06-2020, 07:40 PM
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Default Why a useful and competitive electric powered boat world is 15-20 years away

I originally responded to a related thread about the demise of the Seven outboard company and realized that this was too important a topic to sidetrack the OP topic.

Here are all my thoughts on electric "motor boats" and why you should not invest one dollar is this developing area or consider buying an electric power boat in the next 10+ years. I want to first say that I am personally exited about electric cars and how they are changing how we think about the future of automobiles, however cars and boats are very different animals when it come to electric power utilization.

STATEMENT:
It will be
2035-2040 before we get to the point where electric powered boats make up even 50% of new boat sales.

WHY:
This list problems to solve is long, indeed my friends:


1. Many, many (how many I am not sure) boats around the world are tied to moorings. How will they source power? Do you think the sun is going be charging these batteries? Where would you put the hundreds of feet of solar panels necessary to charge the thousands of pounds of batteries? In New England for example, more power and sail boats are on moorings than at the docks.

2. How much time, effort and dollars will it take to bring the necessary infrastructure to your local marina? Do you see room on your dock for charging equipment? Are you ready for a HIGH VOLTAGE sign and what that means in front of your slip?

3. Virtually all recreational boating and most commercial operations in 2020 occur during daylight hours. If the sun was up when boats are idle, solar power would be amore interesting proposition. You say forget solar, wind power is where it's at! Well, the wind has proven a very unreliable source of power generation up until the present.

4. Some people will certainly disagree, but most people are afraid of electrical devices of any kind when in proximity to bodies of water, whether it be a bathtub, lake or ocean. This can not be overlooked when considering the adoption rate of electric powered boats by the boating public. Yes, you have a bank of batteries in you gas/diesel powered boat, but 12 or 24 volts and a primary power battery module in post-modern electric power boat are night and day. A current Tesla Model S for example operates on a 375 volts system, not the 12 volts powering your 24' Sea Hunt CC or 64' Sport Fishing machine. Think about that the nest time your bilge pump or float stops working or when an inexperienced/new boater has a following sea roll over the transom. Oh, I like this one, "Electric boats make the perfert trailerable boat!" Ok. How many times do trailer based guys forget to put in the plug?

5. Yes, a boat can be designed in a way that makes the electrical power package part of of the super structure of the vessel. Do you want to be the company who spends millions of $ in R & D to figure out how to incorporate a third parties electric power system as a structural member of the hull? What upstart electric boat power company has the resources necessary to take on the the current market leaders and deal with the questions I am asking in number 1-5?

Even Tesla can not borrow enough money from banks and the markets to tackle this one. Why? The addressable market in all marine engines of all types is simply not large enough to justify the necessary ROI. This is the key reason that it will be 15-20 years before electric powered boats that are usable in the way gas/diesel powered boats are currently. While all boats are made to float upon the water, many times they hold a small body of water. It will only take a single instance of the many possible everyday boating scenarios for the water you love so much to ruin your day.

One day, electric powered boats will take over the world, but that day is not coming soon. If you are in the market for boat and that boat has an engine, you can rest well knowing the real "motorboats" have not been perfected yet and your "new boat" will be 15-20 years old before the time has come to revisit this question.

Of the five points listed above which one/s do you think are the most valid? Do you have another reason you think electric powered boats are not going to have much, if any impact in the next 10+ years?

Old 11-06-2020, 11:22 PM
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Long post but just takes a few minutes on youtube or Google to see lack of energy density in existing battery tech is the singular most overwhelming problem.
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Old 11-07-2020, 04:15 AM
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It is not just all about battery density calculations. The boating pubic has very low interest in actually operating electric powered boats. Many simply like the idea. Electric cars have competed with gas powered cars directly since the 1800s. Several times in the last 130 years they have challenged the status quo including in the 1960s and 70s in the US and Europe. Many complain (rightful so more recently) about the price and increased profit margins boat makers are able to ask and get for their new products. The first viable electric powered boats will cost 50-100% more than what Yellowfin and others will be asking for a center console at a given length/beam more than 10 years from now. This is one of he reasons you see dozens of electric car manufacturers for each electric boat idea company. Good luck to them.
Old 11-07-2020, 04:39 AM
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You left out a very large factor that makes any analogy between what is happening with cars and what will happen with boats wrong -- the countless billions of subsidy dollars that directly and indirectly support the electric vehicle industry. There would be no Tesla absent the subsidies. Not only are there the direct tax subsidies for buyers of electric cars, they collect billions each year from other auto makers by selling environmental credits that allow the other companies to offset the production of SUVs and and light trucks. I have a hard time thinking that the politics of subsidizing recreational boats will appeal to many politicians. The AOCs of the world are more likely to make it punishing expensive to run a boat that gets 1 nmpg and "solve" the problem that way.

If fuel costs increase dramatically due to imposition of carbon taxes, we could see development of more hybrid Diesel-electric powered boats. That seems a plausible technology especially for large, heavy and slow vessels such as trawlers. As battery technology improves, the reduced weight and cost penalty will make hybrid more practical. That is the most feasible way to avoid the energy density and charging issues on a pure electric boat while greatly reducing (though not eliminating) greenhouse gas emissions.
Old 11-07-2020, 05:30 PM
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The other thing that most electric vehicle people love to ignore is all you are doing is moving the "tail pipe" down the road a ways. Tell one of your Nissan Leaf driving friends that their green car is running on dirty coal and watch their head explode. If you live near one of these plants it is probably true

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Old 11-07-2020, 05:34 PM
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This is Natural gas, another dead dinosaur fuel

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This is "bunker oil", not much better than coal.

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Old 11-07-2020, 06:12 PM
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Boat builders would have to place the very large and heavy battery low in the bilge to maintain stability. I n 50 years I have never owned a totally dry bilge.
Old 11-08-2020, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by gfretwell View Post
The other thing that most electric vehicle people love to ignore is all you are doing is moving the "tail pipe" down the road a ways. Tell one of your Nissan Leaf driving friends that their green car is running on dirty coal and watch their head explode. If you live near one of these plants it is probably true

Attachment 1120499

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Lol you’re right but I don’t think you’re blowing anyone’s mind with that info. I think everyone understands they’re plugging their car into a grid powered by nonrenewable energy. It’s still a far more efficient use of that nonrenewable energy.

Now, when you bring up to them that nuclear is probably the only viable means we have to get off nonrenewable energy, that’s when they get upset.
Old 11-08-2020, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ericpn View Post
Long post but just takes a few minutes on youtube or Google to see lack of energy density in existing battery tech is the singular most overwhelming problem.
Exactly the lack of battery technology is what is holding up thousands of products that have been patented but arent being produced yet due to the batteries needed not being invented yet.
Old 11-08-2020, 11:15 AM
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Batteries are the problem.

My Tesla battery is equivalent to 3 gallons of gas, which would push my boat around a mile.

Power infrastructure is not the problem, as 50 amp or better is easy to get.

There have been electric boats around for a long time: https://www.duffyboats.com/
Old 11-08-2020, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Busydoingnothing View Post

STATEMENT:
It will be
2035-2040 before we get to the point where electric powered boats make up even 50% of new boat sales.

50%? Well that’s a pretty easy statement to make. I don’t know if CAR sales will even be 50% electric by then....... unless the government forces it on us. If we are taking 235, I’d be shocked if electric boats make up even 5% at that point. Electric boats are EASILY 15 years plus behind where electric cars are today.


In 2019, EV vehicles accounted for only 2.6% of new vehicle sales. We are a loooooong ways from 50% and even longer for boats.

Cost, weight, range, and all the issues you’ve already mentioned.

The most important reason why “alternative” energy is still alternative? Cost.

Everyone wants to “save the planet” on TV, I. Politics and social media, but if you ask individuals if they’re willing to quadruple their electric bill or pay double for something...... all their “save the planet” stuff goes out the window.
Old 11-08-2020, 11:33 AM
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Yeah boats are vastly different than cars.

While cars have similar sized engines it’s all for peak power. Pushing a car on the highway uses a handful of horsepower (a HP is very roughly a kilowatt) and thus very little gas.

Meanwhile a boat at cruising speed is running half to 3/4 throttle thus expending tons of power (probably 100kw for a 200hp engine at cruising).

There is no electric replacement for the energy storage required for most boats.
Old 11-08-2020, 11:42 AM
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What would battery weight need to be to run a 200 hp outboard for say 4 hours at 3/4 hp?
Old 11-08-2020, 11:44 AM
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Just for fun, I priced out a 50hp electric outboard (would be fun for a 13’ whaler).

Motor, throttle, lithium batteries (340 lbs vs 1144 lbs for agm batteries), tilt, charger, gauges.....

$27,867!! Hard pass lol.

https://www.elcomotoryachts.com/prod...saAtpHEALw_wcB
Old 11-08-2020, 11:47 AM
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Sometimes the best innovations are born out of seemingly impossible challenges that push engineering beyond it’s current limitations.

But I agree on the battery sitting in water argument. That will be very tough to solve.
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Old 11-08-2020, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by J0SH View Post
Lol you’re right but I don’t think you’re blowing anyone’s mind with that info. I think everyone understands they’re plugging their car into a grid powered by nonrenewable energy. It’s still a far more efficient use of that nonrenewable energy.

Now, when you bring up to them that nuclear is probably the only viable means we have to get off nonrenewable energy, that’s when they get upset.
Electric powered vehicles are 100% powered by fossil fuels, but the losses from generation, distribution and the charge and discharge processes are not efficient. Electric vehicles are not less environmentally damaging. The premise that electrification is environmentally better is a hoax.

You are correct that the only means to justify large scale electrification is by massive expansion of nuclear power generation.
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Old 11-08-2020, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by SINGLEBARREL View Post
What would battery weight need to be to run a 200 hp outboard for say 4 hours at 3/4 hp?
Probably more than the boat weighs.

Lets see..... some rough math:

200 hp boat would normally have a 75 gallon fuel capacity. To get the same range...

200 hp electric car has about 250 mile range. Similar car will take about 7 gallons of gas to go that far.

So to get the energy of 75 gallons, will need about 10x the battery capacity. So if 200+ car range takes 50 kwh batteries, I’ll use the Tesla P100 battery weight and multiply by five.....

About 7,000 lbs.

And this is being conservative. EV car range diminishes when you push the performance. So 3/4 throttle for hours at a time? Would take a lot.
Old 11-08-2020, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gfretwell View Post
The other thing that most electric vehicle people love to ignore is all you are doing is moving the "tail pipe" down the road a ways. Tell one of your Nissan Leaf driving friends that their green car is running on dirty coal and watch their head explode. If you live near one of these plants it is probably true

Attachment 1120499

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many power plants are multi-fuel...coal, oil, natural gas. The heavy oil/coal is pulverized into a fine powder/liquid so it burns instantly. They can oxidize what is cheaper.
Old 11-08-2020, 12:05 PM
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Electric cars and internal combustion cars developed simultaneously. Only the IC engine advanced significantly in the last 120 years.
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Old 11-08-2020, 12:07 PM
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Battery technology is getting better. Lithium is expensive, but, I will take my new lithium trolling batteries over 150 year old technology any day of the week. Lead batteries keep getting more expensive and don't offer any thing more than the previous year.

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