Chris-Craft e-boat concept is the electric Winnebago of the sea
Winnebago Industries has been busy advancing the prospect of all-electric recreational vehicles for use on land, and now it's brought that effort to the water. The all-new Launch 25 GTe from Winnebago-owned Chris-Craft is a fully operational 420-hp electric concept boat built to hit speeds of 43 knots and float on the water for hours. It's making its world premiere at the 2023 Miami International Boat Show.
Dating back to 1874, and still often associated with classic mahogany hulls from the mid-20th century, Chris-Craft isn't necessarily the first boat maker that pops to mind when the topic of cutting-edge electric concept vessels comes up. But its odds of appearing in that conversation took a tall leap when Winnebago purchased it in 2018. The Launch 25 GTe was incubated in the same Advanced Technology Group (ATG) behind the 2022 Winnebago eRV and 2023 eRV2 electric camper van prototypes.
The ATG has its work cut out for it. While electric cars and trucks have become much more practical, RVs and boats remain two of the more challenging electric powertrain use cases out there. As far as boats go, the current range limitations of battery powered systems drastically limit their ability to travel any type of distance and create a more acute form of range anxiety – being stranded by a powerless battery out on the ocean is magnitudes more worrisome than being stranded on a highway.
That said, both boats and RVs have been slowly moving toward electrification, and Winnebago has determined to be among the American market pioneers. So now it provides the world with a first look at the water-bound fruits of its labor: the Chris-Craft Launch 25 GTe. The concept boat is creating buzz at the Miami Boat Show just the way the eRV2 did at last month's RV SuperShow on the other side of Florida.
Starting with Chris-Craft's 25 GT, the team from Chris-Craft and Advanced Technology Group ripped out the engine and fuel system, replacing it with an electric propulsion unit from EVOA. That powertrain pairs a 420-hp electric sterndrive with a 133-kWh battery bank to eliminate all local emissions and cut noise while still managing a very respectable estimated top speed of 43 knots (50 mph/80 km/h). When dialing back to cruising speed, the Launch 25 GTe can stay out on the water for roughly two hours before needing a recharge.
"The Launch 25 GTe is our exploration into the burgeoning electric boat space and our next step on a continuous journey of bringing innovation to the marine industry," Chris-Craft president Stephen Heese said during the introduction in Miami.
As with the Winnebago eRV camper van, the Launch 25 GTe is just the first publicly visible step of a greater journey toward electrification, with no proposed launch timeframe accompanying it. Back on land, Winnebago has alluded to the possibility of the eRV2 transforming into a range-extended hybrid of some kind, and it seems a similar solution could boost the utility of this 25-foot (7.6-m) electric boat.
The Miami Boat Show opened on Wednesday and runs through Sunday, February 19.