A new 48 volt electric boat motor with peak power of 80kW (96 hp) and nominal power of 50kW (65hp) is going into serial production and can be ordered now for delivery in December 2020.
The motor, from Germany company Volabo, uses a technology called ISCAD: Intelligent Stator CAge Drive – to create a virtual gearbox that changes the speed and torque of the motor by altering the pairing of magnetic poles in the stator cage.
This Plugboats article has a more complete description of how it works. Basically, the fewer the paired poles, the faster the motor turns. It means that the ISCAD motor can be efficient at all speeds, whereas motors with fixed pole pairings are optimized for one speed but less efficient for speeds outside a set range.
5th generation of 48 volt electric boat motor
The production model of the ISCAD V50 is the 5th generation of the motor, the result of 6 years of work that started with a team of students from Munich’s University of Federal Defense. The team has received numerous awards for their groundbreaking work, including the German Mobility Award 2018 from the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Create the Future Design Award 2018 from the renowned Tech Briefs and the Handelsblatt Energy Award 2018.
While the motor first started out as a solution for electric cars, it became apparent as work progressed that there would also be opportunities in boating.
Late last year they teamed up with German electric boat manufacturer my-elektroboat to put together a demo model that debuted at Austria’s Tulln Boat Show in early March, just before the severity of COVID-19 became apparent and restrictions were put in place. You can see the boat in action in the video below.
Light, compact, variety of configurations
One of the benefits of the low voltage motor is that the wiring and clamping technology is much simpler compared to high-voltage systems. 48 Volts is also at the power level where technicians working on the installation do not require any special training.
The ISCAD 50 further cuts down on cabling and connection issues by integrating the controller with the motor. That also helps reduce weight – always a good thing for a boat!
The stator cage – the part of the motor that remains stationary – uses aluminum bars in the ISCAD setup, rather than the much heavier copper windings in many motors. The solid aluminum bars are also obviously much easier and cheaper to manufacture than literally winding wire.
The motor has decreased in size with every advance in development and now weighs in at 45kg / 95 lbs. As for dimension, “The drive, including controller, fits easily into a beer crate” says Adrian Patzak, Managing Director and one of the founders of the company. To be more specific, the motor is 265.5 mm long (10.5″) with a diameter of 254 mm – 10 inches even.
Unlike motors for electric cars, electric boat motors need to have a design that can be adapted to a variety of uses and boats. The ISCAD V50 has a reinforced end shield so that it can be mounted either vertically or horizontally and can therefore be used as an outboartd, saildrive/pod, inboard shaft drive or Z-drive/stern drive.
The my-elektroboat demo was a shaft drive set up on a 6.7m / 22 feet and for sailboats a 50 kW power level is typically used on boats up to about 55 feet and 17 tons displacement.
No price is given for the ISCAD V50, but you can get more information on the Volabo site’s ‘Products’ page. The motor is set to be approved for use by the EU’s Recreational Craft Directive, which sets out technical, safety and environmental standards for boats and components and their suitability for sale and use.