The electric vehicle revolution sweeping Canada and the world doesn’t begin and end with cars. One such outlier is Merrickville, Ont.-based electric boat manufacturer Voltari Marine Electric Inc.
In January the Voltari 260, the world’s first fully electric performance boat, made headlines by completing a 91-mile trip from Florida to the Bahamas on a single battery charge in less than 20 hours. The boat, currently available to order on Voltari's website, travelled at a constant speed of five miles per hour.
CEO Cam Heaps founded Voltari in 2021 from a trio of prior companies: Pantera Boats, LTS Marine and Carbon Marine. Carbon Marine, where he was the CEO, was also the first to build a 100 per cent carbon fibre boat in 2015, while LTS Marine had developed an electric powertrain.
“When we went for a test drive . . . for the first time in our lives, a boat accelerated away from the dock without noise, without emissions, any odour and without any shaking or vibration,” Heaps told SustainableBiz.
“The first order of operations was to build the prototype. And that was to put the three technologies together in one and that is the carbon-fibre hull construction, the electric propulsion system and the offshore hull.”
Voltari manufactures its powertrains in Sainte-Catharine, Que. and has its brand headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.
The Voltari 260
The Voltari 260 is equipped with a 142 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion propulsion system, fully integrated control and navigation systems and aerospace-grade carbon fibre construction. The boat can reach peak power of 550 kilowatts – or 700 horsepower – and 60 mph (about 97 km/h) in ocean conditions.
“You cannot take an automotive EV system (and) drop it in a boat floating around unless you want to putt around at an extremely slow speed. It will overheat. In order to do what a boat typically does, or what motors are used to, you need a lot of lithium-ion battery capacity,” Heaps said.
“When you combine the leading-edge battery packs with a boat . . . where we save 2,000 pounds of both by using aerospace-grade carbon fibre, now you're able to put enough battery packs in there where you can do some stuff that has never been done before, and that's propel a boat through any type of water condition at an accelerated pace.”
The boat costs approximately $593,000. If one were to order a Voltari boat today, the company says it would be delivered within about six months.
The boat is able to charge in eight to 12 hours, but with Voltari’s Level 3 charger, also available to order, it will take just 45 minutes.
Heaps explained most marinas in North America already have 220-volt pedestals with amp connections anywhere between 30 and 100 – meaning the charging infrastructure already exists. The Voltari 260’s interface is built to use these and other chargers.
Interested customers are also offered a charger, depending on their infrastructure.
Future of the electric boat industry
According to ResearchAndMarkets, the electric boat market was valued at $5 billion in 2021 and is estimated to reach $16.6 billion by 2031.
Heaps expects Canada and Voltari to be leaders in the sector.
"If you look at the Tesla . . . It wasn't the first electric car. But it was the first one that was a better car, literally.”
The Voltari 260 is currently a North American product, but Heaps said he is in discussions with international customers. The company plans to scale from sales of around 30 boats this year to about 1,000 annually in four to five years.
There are also plans for a 40-foot Voltari 400, which is expected to be available at some point in 2024.
Heaps also mentioned the possibility of Voltari producing its own powertrains for sale, which would be atypical for the boat industry.
“Right now we're scaling-up our existing facilities (in Canada),” he said. “AFloridat some point in the future, I think we'll probably amalgamate into a much larger facility if everything goes well and we meet our targets.”