For many people who own lakefront property, noisy combustion-engined motorboats that leave clouds of exhaust and oil slicks in their wakes have pretty much become a given. Hopefully, however, quiet and clean-running electric watercraft may soon take over a significant portion of the pleasure-boating market. While consumers can already pre-order the planned 8-passenger solar-electric Loon pontoon boat, another option is the smaller Infinyte i4 catamaran, which began production in 2010. Its maker, Canada's Infinyte Marine, also has plans for a larger boat.

First of all, the 5-passenger i4 does indeed look kind of weird – viewed in profile, it's hard to distinguish the bow from the stern. This design reportedly allows for maximum efficiency as it moves through the water.

The 14-foot (4.3-meter) boat is propelled by twin 24 V motors, made by Mercury Marine's MotorGuide division. It manages a top speed of 8 mph (13 kph), and has an estimated runtime of ten hours – depending on use and battery type. It can be recharged from a household 240 V outlet, and also features its own onboard battery charger for getting back to shore, should you need it.

Passengers steer the i4 with a joystick control that displays the remaining battery life, and which allows them to pivot the boat 360 degrees on the spot. With a total weight of 710 pounds (223 kg), the company claims that it's light enough to be towed behind almost any size of vehicle.

The most recent information on pricing puts the i4 at around US$12,999. Infinyte Marine has 12 dealerships in six countries, which can be located via its website.

The company also intends to produce a larger, faster, covered watercraft, called the i8. A 25-foot (7.6-meter) catamaran designed to fill the same niche as pontoon boats, it will feature seating for 10 passengers, and an estimated top speed of 20 mph (32 kph). Integrated rooftop solar panels and an optional biodiesel generator will help lengthen its battery range.

Infinyte hopes to introduce it sometime this year or next.

View gallery - 7 images