Remigo rethinks electric outboard design from the water on up
With a sleek aluminum unibody that looks more like a rudder than a motor, the RemigoOne’s striking electric outboard design showcases the company’s belief that technology should look and feel simple and be equally easy to use.
The 1 kW motor is aimed at recreational boaters looking for a clean, efficient and convenient way to power a dinghy or small sailboat – up to 1.5 tons and 7 metres. The Remigo team are boaters themselves and wanted an electric solution to make their own lives better, but also observed and talked with dozens of other boaters to ask what they wanted and felt was lacking in the market.
“We have built, tested, and improved numerous prototypes along the way, rethinking every aspect of the product many times over.” said Marko Vrtovec, founder and CEO of the young Slovenian manufacturer. The work seems to have paid rewards, as the RemigoOne earned a Special Mention at this year’s METSTRADE DAME Design Awards.
Electric outboard design responds to boaters’ input
What the Remigo team found during their research was that different yachters have different reasons for going electric – the hassle, sound and smell of fossil fuel motors, environmental concerns, local regulations – but what they all wanted was something simple to use, quick charging, and worry free.
There are multiple aspects to each of those desires, though. ‘Simple to use’ can mean just the actual starting, operating and steering of the motor, but there is another dimension for those who want to be able to detach or hide the electric outboard when it’s not in use, or take it home overnight when the boat is in its berth.
The RemigoOne has an ingenious two piece mounting bracket. One part permanently attaches to the boat. The other part – which attaches to the motor and includes the tiller – slips into the permanent bracket when the outboard is in operation, then can be slipped out to stow the RemigoOne when not in use. Not only that, but the tiller becomes a carrying handle to make it easy to transport the motor anywhere.
This in turn makes it easy to take the motor to the charger rather than having to dock near an electric pedestal at the marina or run an extension. The RemigoOne can also be charged onboard from a boat’s 12 or 24V system.
Intuitive buttons and user interface
When on the boat, the column that holds the motor, battery and electrical components slides up and down in the bracket steplessly, and can be adjusted to give any shaft length between 15 and 30 inches. The column itself resembles a rudder not just for aesthetics, but also to improve steering and manoeuvrability. It is made of aluminum with durable powder coating with the upper part watertight to IP67 standard and the submerged part IP69, so it can stay in the water indefinitely.
The same kind of attention, creativity and pursuit of simplicity has gone into the operating aspects of the electric outboard design.
To start the engine, the user just places the key – which is also the magnetic kill switch – into a small space at the top of the motor column. The RemigoOne starts automatically. To get going, the pilot just presses one of two buttons – forward or reverse. Pushing the button again makes the motor go faster, holding it accelerates to full speed.
When reversing direction, the software lowers the rotation frequency automatically, to a full stop, before proceeding. Two graphic indicator bars with 10 levels each indicate battery charge level and power output.
Interestingly, the first prototype of the motor had a third switch – a forward/reverse selector. But UX testing (User Interface) showed it is much more natural and easy to learn if two buttons simply switch the more/less power function when in reverse.
“With quick charger the battery recharges in 3 hours”
There are a couple of other things the Remigo electric outboard design does not have. One is a traditional throttle command, as that is essentially a throwback to what was needed on internal combustion motors. The other is a quirky computer display full of unnecessary navigational data, the rationale being (quite correctly) “nobody’s going to be crossing the ocean with a 1kW motor, so why have GPS?”
Having said that, Remigo will be introducing a throttle handle extension for the tiller and the engineers will build a smartphone app to track performance information for those who want it.
Design is all well and good, you say, but how about performance?
The RemigoOne has a 1085 Wh Li-Ion battery to provide electricity for the 1000W brushless DC motor. That delivers 30 kg of thrust (comparable to a 3HP fossil fuel motor) and an average range of 14 nautical miles. One of the first users says that “With quick charger the battery recharges in 3 hours, sometimes during dinner on the coast, or in 9 hours onboard our main vessel.” The whole unit weighs 14.5 kg.
All of these specs are comparable with other electric outboards used to power small sailboats, dinghies and RIBs, so the difference with the RemigoOne is in the overall electric outboard design, look and usability features. There are some people who like an electric boat motor that resmbles the ICE motors they are familiar with. But others will be attracted to the minimalist aesthetic of the Remigo, which is definitely influenced by the designers Dieter Rams of Braun and Jony Ive, who created the look of many of Apple’s iconic products.
Tjaš Cvek, chief of R&D at Remigo, is a big fan of both. He says “A good product is sophisticated inside yet intuitive to use,” and that “you know you are finished with designing when there is nothing else left to be removed.”
The RemigoOne, all set to go with integrated battery pack, is priced at €1.985 and can be ordered now from the Remigo website with a deposit of €200.