A new entry in the electric boat market is the ION electric outboard from Ilmor, a manufacturer of high performance engines that has won more IndyCar races than any other engine builder and has an exclusive partnership with MasterCraft Boat Company towsport boats.
While their new ION electric outboard at 6kW (≈ 8HP) may be at the opposite end of the power scale from the company’s ICE engines, their Advanced Technology Group has brought brought a few innovations, the most visible being a unique lighting system that provides both safety and entertainment.
Since there is no sound (or very little) when the motor, is running, the team added an LED lighting strip on the cowling of that helps alert swimmers on the boat or in the are.
LED lights for swimming, fireworks, dancing, charging
After integrating this safety aspect, the team decided to take it a little further, with all of the options that red-green-blue LED lights provide. There is a Music Mode with different styles of music available at the touch of a button and an accompanying ‘light show’. (Jimmy Buffett was playing when I first saw it in action).
Then there’s the ‘Fireworks’ mode with audio and video, and when the motor is charging it is accompanied by a kind of space-y swooping noise and light bubbles. Hey, boating is supposed to be fun, right?
Even without the lights, the silhouette of ION electric outboard stands out as a piece of cutting edge design that will definitely attract attention from bystanders at the dock or on the water.
On the more serious side, Ilmor did not get where it is without being experts in precision engineering. Their marine ICE engines have been chosen by world-renowned boating manufacturers like Mastercraft, Formula, and Aviara.
The new electric outboard is a pod design, with the motor underwater for passive cooling. It runs on a 48V battery system which can be supplied by lithium ion or lead acid chemistry. One of the suggested uses for the ION is on a pontoon boat, so the extra weight of lead acid wouldn’t be an issue and would cost the boat owner considerably less.
ION electric outboard USA launch
It’s a transom-mount motor with 6 kW continuous, power and a ‘Boost Mode’ that bumps it up to 7kW peak for short periods of time. The company says the ION can power a 24′ (7.3 meter) pontoon boat at 6 knots (7 mph or 11 km/h).
The ION was first introduced at METSTRADE in November and made its US debut at the Miami Boat Show in February. The company says it the motors will be available through a dealer network and also for boat manufacturers to incorporate into their designs.
On the face of it, it may seem unusual that a company that has made its name in ultra high performance fossil fuel engines on land and water would develop a small electric outboard. One has to think, though, that this is only the beginning.
With legacy boat motor manufacturers like Mercury, Yamaha and Honda launching or developing electric models, it is inevitable that the e-market is going to expand dramatically. Evoy in Norway and Vision Marine Technologies in North America already have high power outboards on the market, so it makes sense that Ilmor wants to get its feet wet (pun intended).
As they say in their press release:
With a relatively young and fresh life in the marine industry, we’re often deemed ‘the new kids on the block’. But here at Ilmor, we proudly hold the title. Having made a name for ourselves at the most elite tier of the auto racing world, we wanted to keep pushing our comfort zone. Which, inevitably landed us out of the roll-cage and into a life jacket.
But we’re still not satisfied. We’re still kicking in the deep end with no intention to head towards the ladder.
Welcome to the electric world, new kids. We hope the ION is just the start and look forward to other models you may have in development.