Taiga's US$24,000 Orca is one serious electric jet ski
The world of personal watercraft appears to be ripening for the transition to electric. And why not? These things sit around doing not much for the vast majority of their service lives, then get used for short, flat-out blasts on occasional sunny weekends. That's not how gasoline engines enjoy being treated.
We've seen a couple of electric PWCs in the past – notably, the Narke Electrojet, which struck us as a bit sad and flaccid at just 60-odd horsepower (45 kW), with a top speed of just 35 mph (55 km/h) and a range around 90 minutes. There was also the WAV, from Nikola, but that thing had a whiff of vaporware about it, including a promo video that featured it mightily being backed into the water on a trailer, and that was the only time you saw it moving.
Taiga, on the other hand, has some runs on the board already with its all-electric TS2 snowmobile. And now the Canadian company has unveiled a new electric PWC it says it'll be selling for US$24,000.
The Taiga Orca is a smallish PWC at 9.5 ft (2.9 m) long and 3.9 ft (1.2 m) wide. It weighs a reasonably svelte 580 lb (263 kg) thanks to a full carbon construction – and naturally, if you're going to compare that against other PWCs, you'd best weigh them with a tank full of gas. The Seadoo Spark will still be smaller, but this is nowhere near the size of the big units.
Its direct drive electric impeller outputs a meaty 134 kW (180 hp), which should be more than enough for a good time. Top speed is 65 mph (104 km/h), which is plenty fast on water, and Taiga says that under "typical driving conditions" – which, for a jet ski, we imagine means non-stop flat-stick drunken hooliganism – you should get two hours out of the big ol' 23-kWh battery. Said battery will charge to 80 percent in just 20 minutes if there's a DC fast charge station at the side of your lake, which, let's face it, there is not. Plug it into a regular outlet, and it's an all-night job.
It's rated for salt and freshwater, the powertrain is shock- and vibration-isolated, and there's GPS speed and mapping built in with a 7-inch screen and LTE/Wi-Fi software updates. There's a phone app too, which you can Bluetooth to, allowing you to fiddle with configurable power curves and the like. Best of all, it'll happily sit unserviced for up to five years at a time.
One hundred early adopters can get in with a "founders edition" for US$28,000, with delivery to Americans in summer 2020. Then the company will get on with the regular edition at US$24,000, with 400 of those slated for production. Yep, it's a lot. And as thirsty as your average jet ski might be, it'll take a lot of hours before servicing and gas costs pile up high enough to make this any kind of value buy.
But hey, it's a toy. And it's a quiet toy you can blast about on without upsetting the neighbors or feeling like a complete prat. The neighbors will find other things to get upset about, and you'll still likely be at least a partial prat, but you'll have had your fun.
If you want to see the Taiga Orca in "action," the guys at Watercraft Journal appear to have spent plenty of time going really slow and trying to look respectable on a prototype. You're not fooling us, you louts, we wanna see this thing rip!