This former rowing coach is using electric car tech to make motorboats nearly silent

Key Points
  • Pure Watercraft is bringing EV technology to boats in hopes of reducing their environmental impact.
  • The EV outboard motors have been ordered by rowing coaches, pro-fishermen, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and others.
Pure Watercraft's EV technology is making boating faster and eco-friendly

Former rowing coach Andy Rebele started Pure Watercraft on a mission to make boating quieter and less polluting

Inspired by his love of both rowing and Tesla vehicles — Rebele owns a Model S with 92,000 miles on it, and a 3-month-old Model 3 — Pure Watercraft has developed outboard motors for boats using the same kind of powertrain technology found in electric cars.

Rebele said, "Modern emissions controls are required on cars…but there is not a single outboard motor that has a catalytic converter, so they're putting out ten times the cancer-causing pollution that a car does per gallon of gas, and there's no plan to change that." Besides Rebele said, "Boats piss people off because they are noisy, and make big waves."

It takes about a half-hour for Pure Watercraft to rig a boat with one of its EV powertrains. CNBC got a side by side comparison of a boat with a traditional engine, and one of the Pure Outboard systems. The Pure Outboard was nearly silent.

The company's systems have been ordered by rowing coaches, fishing pros, water taxi operators, companies and research organizations that go out on the water in their daily work, Rebele said.

Early customers included: a concessionaire that rents boats to visitors to Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone Park; Ontario Power Group, which will use a Pure Watercraft system to patrol reservoirs they own and use to generate hydro-electric power; and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which will be using EV-powered boats for water transport in sensitive habitat.

The Pure Outboard systems have a top speed of 25 miles per hour when installed in a typical 16-foot fishing boat. They cost $12,000 to $18,000 depending on configuration. The higher-priced set up includes two battery packs.