An all-new, $300,000 electric vehicle is about to drop … in the water.
Arc Boat Co., a Los Angeles startup trying to do for watercraft what Tesla did for sedans, announced another $30 million in investment Tuesday, capital that will help finance its first production run of about 25 vessels, a model dubbed the Arc One. The long-term goal for the nearly year-old company: put battery-powered electric motors in pretty much everything that floats.
“This is one of those pretty obvious ideas,” said co-founder and CEO Mitch Lee. “Gas boats are so much more of a pain to own than gas cars. … Electric boats solve most of the issues, if not all of them.”
In some ways, boats are even better suited to electric power than sedans and SUVs. A burdensome battery isn’t as much of a liability when distributed through a hull and keeping that powerpack from overheating, one of the biggest challenges of an interstate EV, is an engineer’s delight: the vehicle is literally surrounded cooling fluid.
Most marinas are already wired to pump electricity to yachts and other large-form marine machines and the regulatory hurdles for new vessels are few, relative to the ones highway-bound vehicles have to negotiate.
The economics are particularly sweet, according to Lee, because Arc can do an end-run of sorts around electron R&D. Tesla and other auto empires have already bankrolled major breakthroughs in battery technology that Arc is simply piggy-backing on. The company’s current plan calls for a 200 kilowatt-hour battery pack, roughly twice the size of a Tesla’s, that will power its craft for three to five hours, roughly a day’s worth of waterskiing and idle lake cruising.
“This is going to be the next industry to go electric,” Lee said, “and it’s going to happen so much faster than the aviation or auto industries.”
At $300,000, the new Arc machine is roughly 50% more expensive than a comparable gas-powered vessel, say a fully loaded wakeboard boat from MasterCraft. Yet, Arc assures that it will be a far more pleasurable pleasure boat, particularly more quiet.
Indeed, the company cut a wide wake from the outset. About a month after launching, Arc had secured $4.5 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm behind many of Silicon Valley’s greatest hits. By July, it had built together a sleek, silver prototype craft that the founders promptly took waterskiing. Andreessen Horowitz made introductions to venture shops backed by musician Sean Combs, basketball star Kevin Durant and actor Will Smith, who added another undisclosed block of capital last month.
The round of capital announced today was led by Eclipse Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based firm that has also invested in electric aircraft. The decision was driven by partner Greg Reichow, who led manufacturing at Tesla for more than three years.
“The timing is really good right now to branch into these next modes of transportation beyond automobiles,” he explained. “And their vision is just to build a far better boat than anything on the market today.”
However, the electric boat pool is getting crowded. Swedish startup X Shore has been selling something similar in the U.S. for a few months, as has Nautique Boat Company Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based rival. Arc isn’t worried about demand. Its initial 25 vessels are already spoken for and the waitlist is growing.
Kyle Stock reports for Bloomberg News.