Pure Watercraft ramps up its electric outboard motors with a $23M series A – TechCrunch
Electricity only made sense to land vehicles about ten years ago, but now the technology is ready to take the plunge into the water. Pure watercraft is hoping his electric outboard can replace a regular gas engine for most boat needs under 50hp – and he has just raised $ 23.4 million to put it on the gas.
The Pure outboard works similarly to a conventional outboard, but is operated with a suitcase-sized battery and is of course almost silent apart from the noise of the turbulence. It’s pretty much a replacement for an outboard that you would use on a 10 to 20 foot long boat meant for fishing or puttering around the lake, though the price looks a little different.
Founder and CEO Andy Rebele started the company in 2011 and it turned out they had turned up for the party a little earlier. “The Model S hadn’t been released yet. The plan to make boats electric wasn’t really affordable, ”he told me.
Rebele kept the company going in 2016 with his own money and a little reluctant funding, though he now admits it was something of a leap in confidence.
“You have to bet this small market is going to be a big market,” he said. “We developed our entire battery pack architecture and it cost – it is obvious right now – millions of dollars to get where we are. However, our investors are buying a leader in electrifying an entirely new transportation sector that hasn’t received the same amount of attention as cars and trucks. “
You have wasted no time. Pure claims an energy density – how much power is packed into each kilogram – of 166 watt-hours per kilogram to hit industry leader Tesla and beat many other car battery manufacturers. Users can easily add a second pack or swap out a new one. The cells themselves are from Panasonic, just like those from Tesla and many others, but assembling them into efficient, sturdy, and in this case waterproof packaging is something that a company can still do better than its competition.
A lot of power is vital for boats as they use so much of it to fight the constant resistance of the water. The amount of force it takes to travel a kilometer in a car is a fraction of what it takes to do it in a boat. Even boats designed from the ground up for electricity, like Zin’s, face fundamental limitations in their capabilities due to their physics.
Rebele strives for the allure of simplicity. “The world’s most popular outboard motor has 40 hp,” he emphasized. A replacement for this type of engine is exactly what Pure makes. “The mistake automakers made was saying this is the electric car market. It’s small, we tried, ”he said. Then Tesla came up with a great car that happened to be electric.
The same goes for boating, he suggested – sure, there are many different types of boats, engines, hull materials, and so on. But when Pure offers an engine that is as good or better than the one that powers a large number of small boats, and that happens to be electric, it starts selling itself.
“We can’t rely on people to choose our product to save the world,” said Rebele. “The turning point comes when you have a critical mass of people you are good for selfish The choice is to drive electrically. “
After all, the benefits are easy to list: It’s quiet, which is great for fishing or social boating. It fills up for a dollar or two at any point of sale; It is extremely low-maintenance and has far fewer parts than a tiny gas engine. And of course it doesn’t spit fumes and particles into the water and air like most depressingly polluted engines in use today.
The only real benefit left to gas is its initial cost and range. When you’re ready to spend some cash on a better product, cost is less important. And if, like most boaters, you only get a few miles per trip, range isn’t an issue. If you’re fishing or just cruising around a lake, it will take all day. The people for whom electricity is not an option will quickly see this, while others will find it increasingly difficult to resist the idea.
There’s still a good amount of sticker shock. A good new outboard in the 20 to 50 horsepower range costs a few thousand dollars, and the cost of shipping gas add up quickly. The Pure motor comes with the charging system and a battery pack for $ 16,500 (additional packs cost about $ 8,000). They work with a few boat builders to get full boating deals for 30 grand or less, but it’s still firmly in the upper range for the “outboard on a 2-6 person boat” crowd.
The $ 23.4 million A Round, led by L37 and a number of individuals (including some executives from Amazon and), is directly aimed at ramping up production. After implementing the changes to the beta product they tested, the first thousand Pure engines will be built in Seattle, where the company is based. The company has essentially completed the research and development, so putting customers off for a couple of years while the product is being developed is hardly an option – and Rebele said they have no intention of building another for now.
“We’re making this product at this level of performance, and that’s all,” he said. The company’s focus ensures good engineering and hopefully good margins. Pure should deliver its engines in time for the 2021 boating season.