Asia Pacific Boating today reported that Chinese electric outboard maker ePropulsion is the latest electric boat funding story, securing “hundreds of millions of RMB in B+ Series funding.”
RMB (for renminbi) is one of two names for money in China, the other being the yuan. There is essentially no difference, renminbi means ‘the people’s currency’ while the actual currency is denominated in yuan. It’s a bit like ‘pounds sterling’ is the currency of the UK, but when you go to the pub, you pay for your pint with a pound. At any rate, ePropulsion has received funding of tens of millions of US dollars.
It is difficult to know the exact amount, because it is part of a larger deal in which Lightspeed China Partners raised almost a billion dolars – $920M – with “a focus on green tech, deep tech and enterprise technologies.”
Electric boat funding is second for ePropulsion in 2021
Lightspeed China Partners is the China-focused investment vehicle of Lightspeed Venture Partners, founded in Silicon Valley in 1999. Lightspeed China focuses its investments on early stage and emerging growth companies and this is the largest fundraising round in LCP history. However you look at it, they are a very important investor and when they put money in electric boat motors, it means they think something is happening.
This is the second significant investment in ePropulsion this year. In April they received 100 million yuan (US$15M) in a Series B funding round led by Shenzhen OCT Huaxin Equity Investment Management and other investors.
Then, as now, the investment was for ‘B Series’ funding – taking businesses to the next level beyond the development phase and growing the company so that it can meet increasing levels of demand for their products.
At about the same time as that investment, the company announced that it was expanding its relationship with distributor Mack Boring & Parts Co. of New Jersey. MackBoring had been representing ePropulsion along the east coast of North America, Central America and the Caribbean and added the rest of North and Central America to its responsbilities.
‘Wants to be at very forefront of industry’
ePropulsion was started in 2012 by Danny Tao and other students at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). It is now based in Shengzen with a new research centre in Hong Kong, has hundreds of employees, and shipped more than 6,000 units in 2020. They achieved an annual sales growth of 150% this year and said in a statement that those are expected to double again in 2022.
“Driven by the increasing global environmental protection and carbon-neutral demand, the electric marine market is developing rapidly and is the future trend. We want to be at the very forefront of the industry,” said Danny Tao, Co-founder and CEO of ePropulsion.
Speaking of the investment, James Mi, founding partner of Lightspeed China Partners, said “The electrification of shipping and boating power systems has become the new focal point in the green economy as the industry strives for carbon neutrality and sets strategic goals for carbon peaking. ”
Jia Zhu, Partner of Lightspeed China Partners, added: “We are very optimistic about ePropulsion becoming the global leader in the field of new-energy marine power system. Its business scale is growing explosively and the company continues to innovate in artificial intelligence and marine networking technology.”
Funding heating up: GM, Pure Watercraft, Arc Boats
ePropulsion says it will use the electric boat funding to increase its investment in technology development and research. It will also use the funds to improve its existing electric outboard engines, develop larger horsepower electric propulsion systems, develop autonomous boating technology, expand its global market share and build up its talent team.
This is quite the couple of weeks for investment in electric boat funding. On November 23 GM announced that it will be investing $150M in electric boating company Pure Watercraft, and the next day Arc Boats announced a successful $30M Series A fundraising round for their all-electric wakeboard / watersport towing boat.