Among the exhibitors at a recent Newport International Boat Show was Flux Marine, a startup based right in Rhode Island which showed off its new line of all-electric outboards.
After five years of development, the 2018 MassChallenge Boston alum is said to have completely reimagined the electric marine outboard motor from the bottom up. The reported result is a zero-emission motor with performance on par with traditional international combustion models.
Of course, Flux has competition in the electric engine and boats category. Vision Marine Technologies also was represented at the show (one of the largest events of its kind in the U.S.), along with X Shore and other companies looking to offer cleaner alternatives to gas and diesel marine engines.
Flux took home two Newport for New Products Awards, including Best Green Product.
According to Cruising World, “Flux Marine’s Electric Outboard Engine was named the winner in a highly-competitive category (with the most total entries), the Best New Boating Operation, Maintenance or Safety Product.
“Judges noted that Flux’s innovative, built-from-the-ground-up design has the potential to revolutionize the electric outboard engine market. The engine’s efficiency and performance statistics show the Flux could be a game changer in electric outboard engines.” Not bad for a first-time exhibitor.
“Consumer demand for clean and sustainable marine propulsion options has been steadily increasing over the last few years but there are still very few companies out there with solutions,” says Ben Sorkin, CEO of Flux Marine.
“... We were fortunate to have spent some time with some of the other electric- focused companies and are excited to see multiple companies working on innovative products.”
The Flux lineup includes 15-, 40- and 70-horsepower electric outboards available for preorder and 2022 delivery. A 100-horsepower outboard motor demonstrated at the show delivers a range of more than 75 nautical miles, with top speeds nearing 35 knots on a dual-console boat.
No legacy combustion components
“We have really designed the outboard from the ground-up to be efficient and scalable,” Sorkin says.
“We developed our own lower unit, midsection, drivetrain, powertrain and cooling system. No legacy combustion components are used in our designs, which results in much better efficiency and significantly lower weight.”
Flux’s 100-horsepower outboard weighs about 160 pounds, or less than half the weight of similar electric outboards, the CEO says. And its systems are said to be less-expensive, about $12,000 for a 70-horsepower outboard along with $12,000-$24,000 for batteries, depending on size and configuration.
Competitors will make other arguments about why their product is better. X Shorerecently set up a U.S. sales office in Newport, Rhode Island.
But the main argument for electric boat engines is still the same: keeping polluting gas- and -diesel engines out of the water, with a product that requires less maintenance than legacy combustion engines.
“We believe there is tremendous market opportunity in marine electrification, but the right technology is the key to unlocking that opportunity,” Sorkin says.
“Boaters do not want to compromise performance for sustainability, and so the importance of sustainable innovation is paramount. With the right tech, we believe there will be a handful of players that provide electric solutions to the boating market.”
Flux currently has prototype outboards cruising waters of the northeast United States.
Much of the initial research behind the company’s technology occurred on Lake Carnegie at Princeton University. That’s an “electric-only” lake, meaning that only quiet e-craft are allowed on its waters. There are a growing number of other lakes that have banned internal combustion engines in the U.S., including for events like fishing tournaments, Sorkin notes.
Flux says electric boaters shouldn’t have to sacrifice power.
“As marine electrification is becoming more mainstream, the importance of education and standardized information is crucial.
“We often see electric propulsion companies use peak power as the nameplate power, and then mention continuous power later on. When a consumer has a 100-horsepower gas engine, they should be able to replace that with a 100-horsepower electric outboard and get the same, if not better, performance across the board.”
Written by: Jeff Kart