GS22E electric tow boat gives a preview of clean, quiet watersports
The world's first all-electric water ski tow boat is up and running, offering demo days from the shores of Lake Tahoe in California. The Super Air Nautique GS22E offers watersports fans a handsome, quiet, emissions-free fun machine ... at a price.
Miami's Nautique is heavily into the towed watersports scene, offering a portfolio of 13 leisure boat models designed for water-skiing, wake and surf boarding, and combinations of all three. Twelve of these use a typical roaring combustion engine to get the job done – including the multi-sport GS22, which runs a 6-liter, 400-hp PCM engine and carries more than 50 gal (190 L) of fuel in standard trim.
The thirteenth is different. Built in partnership with electric marine specialists Ingenity, the GS22E takes the flexible watersports platform of the GS22 and goes fully electric with it. Out goes the engine and gas tank, and in goes a high-torque, maintenance-free 220-kW (295-hp) electric motor and a hefty 124-kWh battery pack.
The result is a powerful zero-emissions tow boat that runs, say the two companies, for about two to three hours on a charge under normal watersports usage. It also offers a radically different experience; it's so quiet that people in the cabin don't have to raise their voices to chat with one another – the water is louder than the boat. Indeed, depending on what's happening out the back it seems you can easily have casual conversations with a wakeboard rider from the back seats, or possibly even a shouted chat with a water skier at speed.
Plugged into a 240V/50A wall socket, it'll take 10 hours to charge. But on one of Ingenity's 80-kW superchargers, like the one that's now available on Lake Tahoe, you can top it up in a 90-minute lunch break. That won't work for everyone, but it'll be great for some.
The battery pack adds a fair bit of weight – some 1,100 lb (500 kg) over the weight of the regular GS22, for a total weight of 5,900 lb (2,676 kg). For some applications, extra weight is unwelcome – but in this case, that bonus pork makes for bigger and better wakes for wakeboarders and wakesurfers through Nautique's Configurable Running Surface, which lets you tune the wake to suit the rider behind.
Unlike the graceful, hydrofoiling Candela C-7, this will not be an efficient use of electricity – but powersports and efficiency are disinterested bedfellows at best, and the GS22E offers a unique and compelling peek into a vastly more socially and environmentally friendly future of watersport.
Brace yourself, though, the price starts at US$292,711. Oof. Ingenity is offering test drives at Lake Tahoe, but a half day out for six people will cost you US$2,900.
Check out a video below.