Two new models of electric jetskis from Montreal’s Taiga Motors are the first electric watercraft that are close to the pricing of fossil fuel models. The Orca Sport and Orca Performance follow on the sold-out success of the ‘Founder’s Model’ Orca electric PWC (Personal Water Craft) launched last year.
The Orca Sport starts at $15,000 USD, which compares in MSRP to upper end craft like a Kawasaki ULTRA 310X, SeaDoo Wake Pro 230 or Yamaha FX SVHO. The Orca Performance starts slightly higher, at $17,500 and there is also a carbon fibre version of the Performance starting at $24,000.
Electric jetskis share powertain with electric snowmobiles
One of the reasons the Orca can be competitively priced is that Taiga is also the manufacturer of the world’s first production electric snowmobile and the Orca PWCs use the same powertrain platform.
The first Taiga jetski was introduced to the world last September, but the snowmobile and other development goes back to 2014 when the company’s founders, Paul Achard, Gabriel Bernatchez, and CEO Sam Bruneau, were engineering students on McGill University’s Formula Electric, an extra-curricular project where students design, build and race 100% electric cars against teams from other schools around the world.
Living in snowy Canada, it was natural to also start tinkering with the possibility of an electric snowmobile. Word got out, Bruneau told Brenda Branswell of the McGill Alumni news. “I guess people were kind of looking around for cleaner alternatives to snowmobiles,” he said of the queries from ski hill and tour operators. He laughs “They emailed us to see if they could buy one, and we were like ‘no, we’re still students’”
Not for long, though. They won a first-place prize and $15,000 in seed funding from the university’s Dobson Cup startup competition, and one of the long time Cup judges became their first financial backer and still sits on the company’s board.
104 km/h, 60km range and charging with standard systems
Jetskis seem to be a natural for electric propulsion. The torque of the motors provides the quick jump out of the water and zippy ride people love, and having all that without the fossil fuel noise and emissions is a further bonus. The main obstacle to mass acceptance has been getting the price down while keeping the performance up.
In terms of performance the Sport has 120 horsepower with top speed of 90kmh (55mph / 48kts) and a range of 50 km / 30 miles with a 20kWh lithium ion battery. The 180 HP Performance model is heavier (267kg / 588lbs 242kg / 533 lbs) and has a larger with its larger 25kWh battery pack, giving it a top speed of 104kmh (65mph / 56kts) and range of 60 km / 37 miles.
They can each be charged to 80% in 20 minutes with a DC fast charger, in 2-3 hours with a Level 2 charger or overnight from a standard 120V outlet.
The Taigas also come with the real time analytics and intelligent connectivity that are part and parcel of electric propulsion, like a GPS speed and mapping monitor built into the dash between the handlebars and wireless WI-Fi software updates.
Pricing of Taiga electric jetskis a big breakthrough
There has been a lot of action and news in the electric PWC segment the past few years. SeaDoo itself showcased a concept model at its dealers conference last year, as did Nikola, the EV company competing with Tesla in the transport trailer space. Their entry – which is not in production yet – is the WAV, originally developed by California’s Free Form Factory, which was never able to turn it into a viable proposition.
Then there are the sleek, award-winning Narke Elektrojet and the Quadrofoil, a futuistic hydrofoiling two seater that got a sizeable investment of €3M last year to accelerate its production and marketing. There’s also a hydrofoiling electric PWC concept, the WaveFlyer, developed by a team at the University of Western Australia and electric aviation pioneer Electric.Aero.
Jamie Marley, a long time UK electric propulsion consultant who works with some of the industry’s biggest and most respected names, launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year for the world’s fastest electric jetski, but the development is now being backed by a single investor.
There is no doubt that one day electric personal watercraft will take over from the fossil fuel variety, (to the relief of many people on quiet waterways) but it will take some time before they become mainstream.
You can pre-order a Taiga now from the company’s website for delivery in 2021 with a $100 refundable deposit – $2,000 if you would like the carbon fibre option.