GM electric boating stake: $150M in Pure Watercraft

The world’s 7th largest automobile maker is moving into zero emission water transportation with a GM electric boating investment – the acquisition of a 25 percent ownership stake in Pure Watercraft, the Seattle-based manufacturer of battery-electric outboard boat motors and systems.

The announcement says “The collaboration between GM and Pure Watercraft advances a shared vision to promote sustainability through an expansion of zero-emissions mobility for future generations and reflects the holistic approach necessary for widespread EV adoption.”

The only public indication before this that GM was interested in electric boats was almost three years ago, in February of 2019 when it showcased a pontoon style all-electric boat at the Miami and Detroit auto shows. You can »» read the Plugboats article about it here.

Pure Watercraft started in 2011

That boat, called ‘The First’, was presented under the umbrella of Forward Marine, part of the GM Marine Technology division. In essence, it put an EV motor into a boat, pairing the electric system of a Chevrolet Bolt hatchback with a standard Volvo Penta DuoProp sterndrive.

Pure Watercraft was started in May, 2011 by Andy Rebele of Seattle, who did the opposite of putting an electric motor in an existing boat. He ripped the V8 ICE engine out of a Cobalt 21 powerboat and started figuring out how to make it electric. As a collegiate rower and rowing coach, he loved everything about the experience – except the obnoxiously loud motor of the coach boats.

In his quest to prove that electric boats are quieter, cleaner, cheaper to run and better in every way than fossil fuel boats, he gathered a team of experts that created not just their own outboard motor, but also proprietary battery packs all of the monitoring and energy management components of the complete system.

To make a long story short, Pure Watercraft went on to win the Electric Boat Association of America Wye Island Challenge. They then went straight up against fossil fuel powered competitors in a high profile fishing competition – the National Bass West San Diego Regional tournament – and took home first place and big bass honours.

They teamed up with Highfield RIBs to showcase electric boat packages at the Seattle Boat Show in February of 2020, added 3 more boat packages in July of that year, raised $37M of venture funding in December and acquired electric boat manufacturer Elux Marine in January of 2021.

GM electric boating ‘another exciting opportunity”

“GM’s stake in Pure Watercraft represents another exciting opportunity to extend our zero-emissions goal beyond automotive applications,” said Dan Nicholson, GM vice president of Global Electrification, Controls, Software and Electronics. “Building upon GM’s existing efforts to strategically deploy our technology across rail, truck and aerospace industries, the combined expertise of these two enterprises should result in future zero-emissions marine product offerings, providing consumers with more choice than before.”

Through 2025, GM is investing $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicle technology — including work to improve performance and reduce battery costs — to become the market leader in EVs in North America.

The Pure Outboard from Pure Watercraft uses groundbreaking efficiency to benefit a boat’s performance while reducing environmental pollution, and boasts much lower operating cost and maintenance than traditional marine propulsion systems.

“Our mission is to enable a new era in boating,” said Andy Rebele, founder and CEO of Pure Watercraft. “This joint effort with GM is expected to enable us to make significant technological advancements in range and charging, while achieving volume production.”

The collaboration will leverage Pure Watercraft’s innovative marine propulsion technology and experience in the commercial marine industry with GM’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities. The two companies will develop and commercialize battery electric watercraft, integrating GM technology into a variety of applications, helping to accelerate the industry’s transition to electric mobility.

Specific product offerings that occur from the collaboration will be disclosed at a later date.

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