Hercules Electric Marine and Coach Marine Group have announced an agreement that will have CMG electric pontoon boats available for their dealer network as early as May 2023. The Hercules 200 kW (≈250 hp) e-Drive system will give the boats a top-end speed over 40 mph (≈65km/h) and up to 12 hours of cruising time between battery charges.
Hercules Marine grew out of EV pickup truck
Hercules Electric Marine is a division of Hercules Electric Mobility. The company was founded by former automotive executives James Breyer and Julie Tolley in 2018 and is based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, in the heart of the Detroit auto industry region.
The company’s first project was developing the prototype of a luxury electric pickup truck, the Hercules Alpha. From the beginning the idea was to use the electric platform for the Alpha in multiple applications, including marine.
“While designing the powerful, quiet electric powertrain for our concept pickup truck, we had a strategic process where the technology could also be applied to recreational marine applications such as pontoon boats.” said Breyer. “The modularity of our design, as well as our access to automotive supply chains and technology, allows us to bring electrification to the marine industry quickly and efficiently.”
The Hercules staff has more than 125 combined years of automotive and engineering experience taking vehicles from concept to production and has launched dozens of powertrains and production vehicles. The team also includes experts in industries beyond the car business, including marine and defense.
Recently they were selected as a semi-finalist in the 2022 Pepperdine College Most Fundable Companies competition, chosen from over 4,000 participants across the United States.
Electric pontoon boats have inboard/outboard set up
Hercules is one of the few companies that is working on an electric inboard/outboard motor (AKA sterndrive). Just as the most popular I/Os have coupled marinized ICE car engines with the gearing of marine lower units, the e-Drive uses the I/O design but with their 200kW electric motor as the power source. CMG intends to produce up to 1,500 electric pontoon boats annually with the e-Drive system, which comes with software for users to customize power levels for optimal range or to meet waterway horsepower or speed restrictions.
Stringent regulations, such as those set by the California Air Resource Board (CARB), to reduce emissions from engines in boats and other recreational vehicles go into effect at the beginning of 2023.
“Electrification makes for a clean and quiet boating experience, while also opening key areas on the deck of our pontoon for more usable space,” said CMG CEO Chris Riddle. “The Hercules e-Drive makes boating on a Coach or Xcursion pontoon even more fun without any compromises.”
Pontoon boats and electric motors are very well suited to each other. From an enjoyment aspect, many people use them for leisurely cruising or as a ‘party boat’ to take out friends and family. The quiet of the electric motor and the lack of noxious fumes makes for a more pleasant experience all around.
Electric pontoon boats popular option
The big Hercules 200kW motor on the Coach and Xcursion models also provides plenty of power to pull skiers and wakeboarders. They appreciate the quiet motor because it allows those in the water to be able to communicate with those in the boat without having to scream or make hand signals.
The platform is also ideal for handling the size and weight of the batteries, which are similar to those used in the major EV models. The Hercules batteries are modular and come in 43kWh, 63kWh, and 94kWh capacities. They are automotive certified, environmentally rated to IP67 standards and come with an 8 year warranty on performance.
Coach is joining a number of others in the electric pontoon market. PureWatercraft of Seattle received an investment of $150M from General Motors last November and introduced their pontoon in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Shortly thereafter Ingenity Electric debuted their luxury Ingenity 23E electric day-boat at the Miami International Boat Show. Princecraft has the Brio Series of three electric pontoon boat models and there are other manufacturers like Fort Bend Boats of Texas who modify existing pontoons with electric propulsion.
Hercules recently completed rigorous on water tests and sea trials (video below) on the e-Drive and are obviously pleased with the results. “The testing confirmed that we reached our benchmark goal of achieving the same or superior performance as a 250-horsepower gas motor,” said CEO Breyer. “We’re thrilled to partner with an industry leader like Coach to bring this state-of-the-art electrification technology to the marine industry.”
“By working together, we’re confident this will be a successful venture for both parties,” said Riddle. “This is a collaborative effort from design to sales. We’re looking forward to the retail boat show season and other display opportunities this year, showcasing the power, performance and quiet luxury that comes with a Hercules e-Drive mated to a Coach pontoon.”