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This New All-Electrical Boat Might Change Day Cruising as We Know It

This New All-Electrical Boat Might Change Day Cruising as We Know It

A new 30-foot cruiser could jolt the fledgling electric boat segment into a new chapter. Blue Innovations Group officially launched its R30 this weekend at its manufacturing facility near Saint Petersburg, Florida.

The R30, with its aluminum hull, full cabin, beefy hardtop and three foldout platforms at the stern, is an unusual design among electric boats, which are only now starting to gain a foothold in mainstream boating. Brands like X-Shore, Voltari, Navier and Candela and a handful of others on both sides of the Atlantic have also introduced battery-powered boats, but nothing like the R30.

The first prototype running near the company’s headquarters in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Blue Innovations Group

“This is different from others because you can actually stay on it,” John Vo, formerly the head of global manufacturing for Tesla and an executive at other automotive and aerospace firms, told Robb Report at the event. Vo founded Blue Innovations about a year ago, after completing a stint at Lordtown Motors as head of propulsion.

Knowing very little about boats when he launched the company, Vo is using the Tesla model, at least partially, to get his fledgling brand going. The plan is to build 10 to 15 boats next year, and eventually increase that to 300 to 500 units with a mega-factory—producing one R30 every 30 minutes, mixing robotics with human labor. The R30 will be priced at $300,000, similar to its foiling competitors Navier and Candela. Following the Tesla model, interested buyers can reserve a production slot for $5,000, which is refundable.

Electric Boat R30

The extendable solar panels will charge the boat to about 50 percent during times when it’s idle.

Blue Innovations Group

The R30 is an interesting design, with an almost New England styling, given its navy-blue hull and beefy hardtop. But it’s also clearly a day boat with a large sunpad on the foredeck, sunbed in the rear cockpit, and platforms at the stern that fold out on three sides, adding six feet to its 10-foot beam. The boat also has a weekender cabin with a dining table that drops down to form a double berth, galley with fridge, sink and cooktop, as well as an enclosed head.  

But what really sets it apart is the electric power, controls and helm, all designed in-house. The electric inboard motors develop a peak power of 800 hp, with an estimated maximum speed of 45 mph. They are powered by a 221kWh battery that was designed specifically for boating. At a speed of 15 to 20 mph, the company estimates the R30’s range is 100 miles, with a potential run time of 6 to 8 hours. It also has fast-charging capabilities, with 4 hours of running time after a 40-minute charge.

Solar panels on the hardtop will slow-charge the vessel to about 50 percent of peak power when the boat is not running. The batteries are lithium iron phosphate (LFP), says Vo, which are safer with have a longer life cycle than batteries used in most electric cars.

Electric Boat R30

The $300,000 electric boat has three fold-out platforms at the stern.

Blue Innovations Group

The beauty of electric boats is the relative lack of noise, exhaust fumes, along with instant torque and responsive acceleration. Vo said that the company went with an inboard configuration rather than an outboard because it didn’t clutter up the stern of the boat. “The draft is still only 24 inches,” he says.

This 30-footer is also unique among electric boats because it doesn’t have a rudder. Instead, a computer controls the propellers to turn the vessel, or move it forward or backwards. “It can turn tightly in its own axis,” says Vo.

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The helm functions and electronics were also developed in-house with the goal of delivering an automotive experience that is more intuitive than other boating helm stations.

Electric Boat R30

The foredeck also has a social design with the central sunpad.

Blue Innovations Group

“We’re trying to recreate what you have in a car where you’re getting all key data in one central place,” says Vo. “We wanted to make things less overwhelming for boaters who might be less experienced.” The helm is much simpler than a conventional helm station on most boats, with push buttons that reveal different functions and data. The R30 incorporates a chartplotter, sonar, safety cameras and satellite-based radar as well as a Wi-Fi router. The company is considering Starlink satellite receivers for more advanced Wi-Fi. All systems will be linked to its headquarters for troubleshooting and maintenance.

The boat’s extended range, says Vo, should also help combat range anxiety, arguably one thing keeping many boaters from purchasing electric boats. “It was like electric cars ten years ago where everyone was nervous,” he says. “But now nobody is afraid. It’s going to involve a little more calculation and planning, but the actual experience of boating with these engines will help overcome any fear.”

The first R30s should be completed and delivered next year.

Source: Robb Report

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