The marine industry is constantly evolving and innovating to improve the performance, efficiency, and sustainability of boats and other watercraft. This progress is driven by advancements in technology, as well as an increasing awareness of the importance of preserving the natural environment.
As environmental concerns continue to rise, many companies in the marine industry are working to develop new technologies and materials that are more sustainable and eco-friendly. For instance, the industry has witnessed the development of electric propulsion systems, hybrid engines, and fuel-efficient designs that have significantly reduced emissions and carbon footprints.
Moreover, there are ongoing efforts to incorporate cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation in the design and manufacturing of boats. This not only improves the efficiency of the process but also enhances the safety, comfort, and convenience of the end product.
Some notable innovations in recent years include:
Electric propulsion: Electric motors are becoming more powerful and efficient, and many boat manufacturers are now offering electric propulsion systems. These systems offer the benefits of reduced emissions, noise, and vibration, as well as lower operating costs and improved maneuverability.
Above: A 2023 X Shore Eelex 8000 electric center console boat for sale on YachtWorld by Nautical Ventures. Photo via Nautical Ventures in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
There are numerous major players in electric propulsion in the marine world right now, including:
- Torqeedo - a German company that produces a wide range of electric outboard motors, inboard motors, and hybrid systems.
- Vision Marine Technologies - a global leader in the electric recreational boating industry serving both OEMs and consumers, this company designs and manufactures electric outboard powertrain systems and our related technologies. Vision Marine sells 100% electric boats, outboard motors and technology.
- Oceanvolt - a Finnish company that produces electric inboard motors and hybrid systems for sailboats and catamarans.
- X Shore Boats - Combining Swedish maritime craftsmanship and technology, X Shore Boats creates high performance all-electric powered boats that are changing and charging the boat industry for a fossil free tomorrow. The boats are a result of Scandinavian design, innovative solutions and cutting-edge technology.
- EPropulsion - a Chinese company that produces a range of electric outboard motors and pod motors for small boats.
- Elco Motor Yachts - an American company that produces electric inboard motors for pleasure boats, yachts, and commercial vessels.
- Bellmarine - a Dutch company that produces electric inboard motors and hybrid systems for sailboats and powerboats.
- Fischer Panda - a German company that produces electric propulsion systems for yachts and commercial vessels.
- Aquawatt - an Austrian company that produces electric outboard motors, inboard motors, and hybrid systems for boats up to 10 meters in length.
- Evoy - based in Norway, this company's vision is to "deliver an irresistible boating experience by developing sustainable electric motor systems to accelerate the shift to emission free electric boating". They currently offer two electric outboard motors the Evoy Storm 300+ HP and the Evoy Breeze 120+ HP motor, both designed for recreational boats.
- General Electric Company (GE) - a diversified international corporation headquartered in Boston with a wide range of products and services including electric power and propulsion systems for naval applications. With extensive experience working with 13 different navies worldwide, GE Power Conversion offers a complete range of electric ship technologies that provide a total electric ship solution. Integrated full electric power and propulsion (IFEP) systems offer excellent flexibility for vessel design, power scalability and maintenance.
- General Motors / Pure Watercraft - Heading into 2022, automotive giant General Motors announced it was investing $150 Million into backing the electric boat startup company Pure Watercraft, a Seattle-based electric outboard motor and battery manufacturer. GM's Ultium battery platform and HYDROTEC fuel cell platform give the company the potential to make boats into zero emission vehicles.
- Siemens AG - a significant engineering and manufacturing company that specializes in electrification, automation, and digitalization. Its portfolio includes the development of various types of vessels such as mega yachts, container vessels, cruise liners, ferries, offshore vessels, unique vessels, naval surface vessels, and submarines. In December 2020, the company was awarded a contract by Cochin Shipyard to provide cutting-edge hybrid marine propulsion solutions for 23 electric boats.
- Volvo Penta - a Swedish marine and industrial engine manufacturer founded in 1907 that has introduced several industry-first innovations to the marine engine market over the years. Recently the company released a new line of variable speed marine generator sets that serve as critical components for electric propulsion in marine vessels, helping spearhead the marine industry's shift towards sustainable electric propulsion methods. These generator sets allow for smaller battery banks and on-the-go charging, making hybrid-electric marine propulsion more cost-effective and accessible.
- BAE - based in London, this company offers electronic systems, cyber & intelligence, platforms & services, and air and maritime solutions to the aerospace, defense and marine sectors. Recently, the company has focused on green technology for cargo vessels, including a contract with Chartwell Marine to supply its electric hybrid power and propulsion system for a new maritime research vessel at the University of Vermont (UVM).
- Twin Vee Electric - a division of Twin Vee PowerCats that specializes in creating fully electric-powered boats. They also have a subsidiary called Electra Power Sports, which produces electric propulsion systems for other boat builders, dealers, and owners who want to upgrade to fully electric outboard propulsion systems.
- Correct Craft - an iconic marine industry titan that includes the well known brands Nautique, Centurion Boats, Supreme Boats, Merritt and Parker, who is now focused on electrifying the wakesports segment of the market with their award-winning Ingenity system. The company is so confident in their vision that they purchased an additional 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Orlando, FL adjacent to their Nautique headquarters.
- Wartsila Corporation - a pioneer in intelligent technologies for the marine and energy industries, focusing its resources on marine power, marine systems, Voyage, energy, and portfolio business. The company designs and manufactures propulsion systems, integrated powertrain systems, and engines with a strong emphasis on reliability and safety. In February 2021, the company unveiled a hybrid propulsion system for a RORO ferry, which is set to be employed by the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
- Mercury Marine - Mercury Marine, perhaps the biggest player in the world of modern outboard engines, has begun developing electric outboard motors and the company's first electr outboard motor will hit the market in 2023 - the new Avator 7.5e electric outboard.
These companies are all leading the way in the development and production of electric propulsion systems for the marine industry.
Alternative fuels: Biofuels, hydrogen, and other alternative fuels are being explored as alternatives to gasoline and diesel. These fuels can offer lower emissions and improved efficiency, but require significant infrastructure investment and technological advancements.
Lightweight materials: Advances in materials science have led to the development of lightweight composites, such as carbon fiber and Kevlar, which can reduce the weight of boats while maintaining strength and durability.
Automation and connectivity: Digital technologies are being used to automate and connect various systems on board, from navigation and propulsion to entertainment and climate control. This can improve safety, convenience, and efficiency, as well as provide real-time data and insights for better decision-making.
Sustainable design: Many boat manufacturers are incorporating sustainable design principles into their products, such as using recyclable materials, reducing waste and emissions, and designing for end-of-life recycling or repurposing.
Overall, innovation in the marine industry is driven by a combination of market demand, regulatory pressures, and technological advancements. As the industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see continued improvements in performance, efficiency, and sustainability across a wide range of products and services.