Pancake-motored electric outboard to power e-boats of the future
British modular electric drive specialist Saietta Group is preparing to launch its first electric outboard motor for boats and other watercraft. A year after spinning off the Propel marine division, it's readying the Red-Dot-winning S1 electric outboard for production. Designed to intercept the forthcoming spike in demand for quiet, efficient electric boat drives, the compact 104-lb (47-kg) outboard uses a 10-kW pancake motor to propel the boat for up to 56 miles (90 km). Buyers can choose from a selection of modular "suitcase batteries" to fit their exact range and packaging needs.
Based in the Netherlands, Propel announced today that it will begin production of the S1 in Q1 2023 for distribution throughout Europe. It is currently wrapping up development and testing and will be showing the new outboard and several other products at this week's Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam beginning on Tuesday. Propel held its brand launch and initial S1 announcement at last year's METS event.
The compact S1 is based around a bespoke version of Saietta's AFT140i axial flux permanent magnet AC motor, referred to fondly as a "pancake" motor. The motor is housed neatly up top in casing that matches its discus shape. It puts out 10 kW (13 hp) of continuous power to open up boat speed and acceleration comparable to that supplied by a 25-hp internal combustion engine, according to Propel.
An integrated motor controller sits atop the motor, while a sleek tiller display delivers clear readouts. A push-button start and thrust control lever help make things simple enough for the least experienced of rental boat captains.
Using its custom-designed four-blade propeller, the S1 operates at 62 percent efficiency, offering an estimated range up to a 56 miles/15 hours (90 km) on the water, depending upon battery. The estimate is based on a pre-production outboard secured to a 22.3 x 8.2-ft (6.8 x 2.5-m) displacement-hulled sloop moving at a low speed of 3.2 knots (6 km/h).
The only thing not included in the streamlined all-in-one S1 package is the battery. Propel says the outboard can be hooked up to a variety of third-party solutions and also offers its own 48-V B1 "suitcase" lithium battery lineup. The B1 packs are designed to be light, compact and rectangular, with an appearance of books lined up neatly on a shelf. They come in four-, six- and eight-module stacks ranging in capacity between 6.8 and 13.6 kWh, all packaged with BMS and CAN bus hardware. The split modular design makes it easier to retrofit the batteries to older non-electric vessels by installing multiple packs in different locations around the boat.
The S1 follows the launch of Propel's electric D1 inboard motor earlier this year. Propel believes it's well-positioned to take advantage of the oncoming surge in marine e-drive demand prompted by European regulations that favor electric boats. It uses Amsterdam's push to go 100 percent electric by 2025 as an example of the factors that will push electric sales to an estimated 74 percent of the European outboard motor market by 2030.
"Leisure boat owners and operators will soon have no option but to switch to electric motors as cities implement new rules to clean up their waterways," says Sander van Dijk, Propel's managing director and CTO. "Adding the S1 outboard electric motor to our D1 inboard solution means we are in a prime position to offer customers robust and efficient zero-emissions propulsion for a broad range of leisure craft."
Propel will build the S1 outboards on a new assembly line at Saietta Group’s facility in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn. It has organized a series of 10 trained dealers in the Netherlands and is working to set up partners in other European markets. Buyers who order the S1 now can expect delivery in time for the 2023 European boating season. The S1 lists at €5,900 (US$6,090) on Propel's website, not including battery.
Propel plans to expand the S1 family over the next year, starting with 7-kW and 13-kW outboard options.
Source: Propel/Saietta Group
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However, US$6,000 for this motor, not including battery might result in a fairly limited use case.
The S1 is a nice compact motor, but adding a $10k battery will price it way above many, many peoples' budgets.
I foresee ICE outboards being around for a wee bit longer.