Flux Marine has an influx of new funding. The Rhode Island developer of all-electric outboard motors and battery systems for watercraft says it’s raised $15.5 million in an oversubscribed Series A funding round.
The effort was led by Ocean Zero LLC, a fund created by TED Conferences head Chris Anderson and seasoned technology editor Stephen Petranek to invest in the acceleration of alternative energy solutions for consumer and commercial marine transportation, according to Flux Marine CEO Ben Sorkin.
The round also drew participation from Boost VC and Winklevoss Capital, and saw majority participation from previous seed and angel investors.
Flux Marine plans to start deliveries to customers next month, with full production by the summer of 2023.
“We’re a team of about a dozen now,” Sorkin says. “The plan is, over the next 12-18 months, to hire anywhere from 30 to 40 people.”
The company has begun the move to a renovated, 40,000 square-foot facility at a business park in Bristol, Rhode Island, that will serve as a manufacturing, research and development, and office space.
Flux Marine touts a unique design that provides “unmatched acceleration, optimal range and zero maintenance without increasing the overall weight of a boat,” the company says.
“By completely redesigning the outboard motor to deliver zero-emissions power, Flux Marine electric outboards exceed the performance of fossil-fuel engines.”
The lineup includes 15-, 40-, 70- and 100-horsepower electric outboards. The units incorporate technology designed from the ground up, Sorkin says, rather than just putting electronic vehicle components inside shells of traditional combustion engines.
For instance, Flux’s 100-horsepower outboard weighs about 160 pounds, or a third as much as competitive electric motors or gas engines, the CEO says. “We’re able to stack a couple of more batteries in there and still keep the overall system weight that you’d have with gas.”
While range depends on hull design and operating conditions, a Flux Marine 100-horsepower outboard mounted on a 22-foot dual console hull delivers top speeds nearing 35 knots with a range of more than 75 nautical miles on a single charge, the company says.
The pitch, beyond an engine that can propel a boat much more quietly than a gas version, is about taking harmful emissions out of the equation.
“One of the biggest things is that all the outboard engines that are made in these power ranges do not have catalytic converters,” Sorkin explains. “For every gallon of gas burned, compared to a car, you might see over 100 times more particulate matter into the environment from an outboard without a catalytic converter.”
And that’s on the water.
“Boating is one of those things that people do it because they love it,” he says. “We really want to use technology to create the best boating experience for the people now and future generations.”
As for the zero-maintenance aspect: On a standard, gas engine, there’s usually annual maintenance like winterization and dewinterization, along with maintenance every 100 or 200 hours. “Some new engines, when you buy them, you’re asked to bring it back at 20 hours for service,” Sorkin notes. “With the Flux Marine design, we’re really eliminating as many moving components as possible. One exciting technology is a completely closed loop cooling system.”
Torque is another highlight. Gas outboards have peak and continuous power that’s pretty much the same. The Flux Marine has continuous and peak power, so a 40-horsepower model is always capable of 40 horsepower, but has up to 60 horsepower on tap for acceleration, Sorkin says.
He thinks it’s important to be transparent about power ratings.
“We want electrification to succeed as a whole,” including for competitor EV companies. “We think electrification has a huge role in the future of marine and we want people to see that and trust in it and be able to adopt it.”
And that’s not just Sorkin talking. The investors in the latest $15.5 million seed round are an eclectic and passionate bunch. You might recognize the Winklevoss name from twin brothers featured in the movie “The Social Network,” who battled with Facebook and later became Bitcoin billionaires.
Stephen Petranek, operating partner for Ocean Zero LLC, said in a statement that his fund “invests in innovative young companies that can make a breakthrough difference in decarbonizing transportation on the world’s oceans, rivers and seas.
“Commercial shipping by sea and recreational boating produces more (carbon dioxide) emissions each year than all the world’s airlines combined. Flux Marine can make a significant impact on climate change if even a fraction of the 800,000 outboard engines sold each year can be replaced by fully electric motors."
“Electrification of recreational boating will make a remarkable reduction in the ridiculous amounts of pollution produced by internal combustion outboard motors.”
Boaters can preorder Flux Marine’s 15-, 40- and 70-horsepower electric standalone outboards, or choose from multiple electric boat packages with up to 100 horsepower.
Flux plans to offer in-person demonstrations this summer at “experience centers” on Greenwich Bay, Rhode Island, and Steelpointe Harbor, Connecticut.
Written by: Jeff Kart