Throwback Thursday: the naming of Torqeedo

Today’s TBT is a bit of a play on words. Not only does it refer to a throwback to Torqeedo history from the early days of the company, but also to the latest news just this week from the company’s sponsorship of a catch and release – throw back – bass fishing tournament.

First, the throwback to Torqeedo motor history

In Kevin Desmond’s definitive book, Electric Boats and Ships: A History, (buy on Amazon) he gives the back story on how a company inventing an electric boat motor came up with its distinctive and memorable name.

In 2004 Christoph Ballin (on the right in the photo above) bought a little weekend cottage with a boatshed alongside a canal that runs into Germany’s Starnberger Lake. Since Starnberger is a “green” lake, Ballin had to get himself an electric boat. He bought himself an old wooden hull and refurbished it, helped by his wife. He then put what he thought was a new electric motor onto the back.

As it turns out, the motor was not quite what he thought. When he invited his electronics engineer friend Fritz – Dr. Friedrich G. Böbel PhD – to visit for a weekend, Dr. Fritz (on the left in the photo) was not impressed, saying the technology of the engine was fifty years old. Ballin replied it was the only thing available on the market. When the Professor said they could do three times better, Ballin said if that were true they should start their own company to achieve it, and as Ballin, the future and current CEO of Torqeedo relates: “When Fritz called me on his way home, I knew he was hooked!”

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But why the name Torqeedo? It came out of the motor they came up with, which had around 24 times the torque of the older motors. Also in Desmond’s book:

We tried several name combinations with the word torque. It must not already be a protected word, but also one for which you could still get the important internet-domains without needing to add suffixes to it, etc. We combined Speedo and it worked: Torqeedo! Then we felt it sounded a little generic, could have been anything, so we added the Starnberg, Germany, to our logo, to indicate it is a real company that has a real base.

Now the global leader in electric boat motors

A real base indeed. That company with the portmanteau name of torque and speedo:

  • is now the global market leader in electric marine propulsion
  • offers 32 electric boat drives ranging from 1 to 80 HP
  • also lithium batteries,  solar charging technology, a smartphone app etc.
  • has offices, dealerships and distributors in over countries on 5 continents

And, is definitely the most often ‘tagged’ motor on the pages of Plugboats!

Which brings us to the latest story with the Torqeedo tag  –  April 1, 2019:

Kayak Bass Fishing Championship winner nets $73,000

Torqeedo motor executive awards prize to bass fishermen

The Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Championship is a catch-photo-release tournament (hence the Throwback Thursday) with 461 anglers competing over three days. On the first two days, competitors take photos of their their ten longest fish for certification, and then the top 100 anglers fish for grand prize and bonuses.

Torqeedo was Presenting Sponsor of the tournament, renewing its longtime commitment to the sport.

Champion Mike Elsea’s 15-fish, 288.75 inches total won by 16 inches over runner-up Drew Gregory. Greg Blanchard, a member of Torqeedo’s kayak fishing team, placed third.

Electric motors are perfect for fishing, of course, with their near silent operation.

“Every year, kayak angling becomes more competitive and more people participate. It remains one of the fastest-growing outdoor sports with 2.8 million people in the United States fishing out of a kayak last year” said Steve Trkla, president of Torqeedo’s American division.

Team Torqeedo anglers use the Ultralight 403 electric kayak motor with a new no-drill mount. The system weighs under 20 pounds including the battery and can propel a kayak at paddling speed for more than 60 miles before needing to recharge.

It’s a long way from that boat shed in Starnberger!

Thank you to Kevin Desmond for these excerpts from Electric Boat and Ships: A History. There is much more about the Torqeedo story in the book as well as the background on many of today’s electric boat companies.
Available from Amazon, paperback or Kindle
Amazon Customer Review: “Desmond’s new book leaves no doubt that electrically powered vehicles are already a fixture on the firmament of propulsion and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Well illustrated, meticulously written and researched, this book is a guaranteed ‘must’ on the bookshelves of all who have interest in this subject.



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