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Electric boats built by GM and former SpaceX engineers could be the next big thing – take a look

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Los Angeles-based Arc Boats has attracted more than $30 million in funding from venture capital investors, as well as celebrities like Will Smith and Kevin Durant.
Source: Arc Boats

Electric cars, trucks and buses have revolutionized their markets in recent years. Up next: electric boats

With a market that analysts project will more than double to $7.8 billion by 2028, electric boats promise now-familiar benefits: reducing powerboats' impact on the environment while offering a quieter ride without any smell of fumes. Some of the tradeoffs may sound familiar, too — critics argue that the amount of energy required to power a watercraft makes it difficult for them to reach high speeds or travel long distances.

That didn't stop auto giant General Motors from putting the spotlight on electric boats in November 2021, with a $150 million acquisition of a 25% stake in Seattle-based electric outboard motor start-up Pure Watercraft. In January, GM and Pure Watercraft unveiled the first product stemming from their partnership: an electric pontoon boat.

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Here's a look at that offering, as well as other buzz-worthy electric boats – including one from a team of former SpaceX engineers – that are already making a splash:

Pure Watercraft's electric pontoon boat

Pure Watercraft and General Motors unveiled this electric pontoon boat in January.
Source: Pure Watercraft

Pure Watercraft and GM's electric pontoon boat is currently available for pre-order online, with just a $100 deposit — though ultimately, you'll have to pay at least $45,000 for a boat with a single outboard motor, and $60,000 for twin outboards.

The 25-foot, 9-inch long boat is expected to fit up to 10 passengers. The single motor version is billed as able to hit a top speed of 14 miles per hour, compared with 23 miles per hour for the version with twin motors. Each motor is 25 kilowatts, all powered by a 66-kilowatt hour GM automotive grade battery.

The boats, which also come with a Bluetooth-enabled throttle, will likely have a travel range of up to 120 miles on the water, at an average speed of 5 miles per hour. That range will decrease significantly for boats traveling at top speed.

The first deliveries to customers are expected in late 2022.

The Arc One

The Arc One can fit up to 12 people and has a starting price of $300,000.
Source: Arc One

Los Angeles-based Arc Boats is led by a team of former SpaceX engineers, including the company's co-founder and chief technology officer Ryan Cook, who was previously a lead engineer on SpaceX's first and second stage Falcon 9 rockets.

Arc launched last year, and has already raised more than $30 million in funding from firms like Eclipse Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, plus celebrity investors like Will Smith, Kevin Durant and Sean "Diddy" Combs.

In March, the company introduced an all-electric 24-foot cruiser called the Arc One that features a massive, 220 kWh electric battery — three times the size of the battery in a Tesla Model Y. That battery powers a 500 horsepower motor, allowing the electric speedboat to reach top speeds of 40 miles per hour, according to Arc. 

The Arc One features a lightweight aluminum hull and can fit up to 12 people, plus 60 cubic feet of storage space. The company says you'll get roughly three to five hours of cruising time per charge.

The boat comes with a hefty starting price: $300,000. You can reserve one with a $1,000 deposit on the company's website. Deliveries are expected to begin this summer.

Candela C-8

Candela's C-8 "flying electric craft" uses hydrofoils to reduce drag in the water, requiring less energy to hit top speeds.
Source: Candela

Swedish tech company Candela recently unveiled its "flying electric craft," called the C-8. The electric boat actually uses hydrofoils — wings or fins that lift most of the boat out of the water — to significantly reduce drag, allowing the C-8 to use roughly 80% less energy than a conventional boat, the company says.

The C-8 is expected to reach a top speed of 30 knots, or roughly 35 miles per hour, and travel nearly 58 miles per charge. The nearly 28-foot craft is designed to fit eight passengers, and even has a front cabin that sleeps four.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also isn't cheap. The C-8 comes with a starting price of 290,000 euros, which currently equates to just over $305,000. Candela expects to begin delivering the boats to customers this summer after already selling more than 100 units in the U.S., Europe and Canada, the company said on Thursday.

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