The much anticipated Mercury electric outboard created a big buzz with its unveiling at the Miami International Boat Show last week. The motor on display was a concept model designed to showcase the main features of the new line – named ‘Avator‘ – with the formal release and models for sale coming later this year.
There has been a lot of talk since last year about one of the world’s largest gas outboard manufacturers going electric. Mercury Marine President Chris Drees said at the company’s Investor Day in May of 2021 that “We’ll launch five new electric outboard models by 2023, and intend to be the market leader in both conventional and electric marine propulsion by the end of that year.”
Roughly 1 out of every 2 boats in the U.S. recreational boat fleet are powered by Mercury products, and the company has a tradition of innovation that goes back to the first Thunderbolt gas outboard in 1947. So when they put their technical people on a new project, they are bringing unique experience and expertise.
Mercury electric outboard features swappable battery
They also have 80 years of customer feedback. Talking about the Avator concept, Drees said “Our team is taking everything we know about how consumers use our products and incorporating it into Avator, creating an electric propulsion system that will set a new benchmark for the marine industry.”
One of the features of the Avator that stands out compared to other electric outboards is a battery pack that slips in and out of the top of the cowling’s hinged ‘lid’.
Just as with electric vehicles, the idea of range is one of the main psychological barriers for consumers who are used to fossil fuel motors. The Avator’s swappable battery is a tidy and easy solution. An extra battery can be taken aboard and double the range in seconds.
The batteries are taken home to charge from a home outlet, which also adds to the portability of the unit as a whole. It can also be charged from a marina pillar, of course.
Tim Reid, Mercury Marine vice president of product development & engineering says “We believe features like easily changeable batteries and quiet operation hold great appeal for current and prospective boaters.”
“Broad portfolio of low-horsepower outboards”
Naturally, people are also interested in what kind of power will be available with the Avator electric outboard line. In response to questions on the Mercury Marine YouTube channel, the company has said:
“We can’t speak to horsepower quite yet, since we are still developing the product. We can tell you we’re excited about the possibilities that the Avator series will provide. This initial concept will have applications for fishing, cruising and nature watching.
The concept is representative of a broader portfolio of low-horsepower outboards Mercury will launch later this year and next. Additional offerings will have applications for use on many small boats, including pontoons, tenders and sailboats, as well as for improving access to boating in areas where traditional fuel sources aren’t available or allowed.“
You can sign up to receive Avator updates on the Mercury Marine website.
Digital connectivity new for gas outboard owners
Another benefit of the Avator that will be new to gas outboard users is the digital connectivity that an electric system provides. This is another area where Mercury being part of the Brunswick corporation brings a lot of value.
The Brunswick ASG (Advanced Systems Group) division includes companies like Simrad, C-Map, and C-Zone that are global leaders in things like charting, autopilot and digital control and monitoring. Other companies in the division include the lithium-ion battery experts at Mastervolt and RELion.
“Electrification is strategically important to us, and this concept provides a first look at how we intend to deliver on our commitment to being the industry leader in both internal combustion products and electric propulsion,” says Drees. “We are taking efficiency to a new level, opening up new ways to enjoy the boating experience.”
Check out the videos below for a run through of the Mercury electric outboard look and features, comments from Chris Drees and an interview from the Miami Boat Show with Jim Hergert, Senior Category Manager of Mercury Marine.