Making waves: X Shore’s electric boat takes to the water
The old saying that water and electricity do not mix clearly never factored businesses like X Shore into account.
Founded in Sweden by entrepreneur Konrad Bergström in 1996, X Shore has a new way to power boats and remove the need for hydrocarbon-powered engines in favour of a more environmentally-friendly solution: electric-powered models which are every bit as competitive as their gas-powered counterparts.
Learn what X Shore is up to and how it intends to be the crest of a new wave of electrified vehicles taking the world by storm.
Speed on the water
When you think electric-powered boats, there’s a good chance you might be thinking about those battery-powered radio-controlled toy boats that were popular many years ago. The notion of anything electrical being practical on the high seas might sound ridiculous, but X Shore is in the market to prove many people wrong. Speed is another thing – as with many electric-powered vehicles such as cars, the old cliché was that they just couldn’t outrun their petrol and diesel-powered cousins.
At X Shore, everything we do is about being more future-positive– Jenny Keisu, CEO of X Shore
“There are a lot of clichés about electric boating that we are breaking down step by step”, according to Jenny Keisu, CEO of X Shore. As noted in our feature about CAKE electric bikes, there’s something special about Scandinavian countries such as Sweden.
Jenny Keisu explains: “It’s clear that there is a genuine commitment to sustainability within Sweden and our neighbouring countries in Scandinavia…Sweden itself has a long and successful history when it comes to car and boat manufacturing, so when you combine that with a world-class technology and an innovation ecosystem, you get a significant number of influential companies pushing the boundaries of the EV sector.”
The highlight of X Shore’s work in electric boating is the Eelex 8000, a boat capable of hitting a top speed of 35 knots and a distance of over 100 nautical miles. X Shore built this small but sleek model specifically for high performance, able to navigate through stormy seas and raging tempests. Each model is designed, built and tested in Swedish waters.
But how does it power up?
“Electric boats can be charged using any power outlet found in a harbour”, Jenny explains. “The Eelex 8000 is compatible with DC fast charging, where you can fully charge in less than two and a half hours.”
Going electric does wonders for upgrading the way boating enthusiasts can keep track of the status of their vessels. The Eelex 8000 is controlled by a touchscreen using software designed by X Shore itself. The company has its own downloadable app, allowing smartphone users to use their devices as remote keys and each model collects large quantities of data, to aid with the running of the ship and ensure its good condition.
As Jenny reveals, “The software is constantly collecting data about the vessel, with 150 data points per second downloaded from each boat, so we can do predictive maintenance and also optimize the performance. Overall, the Eelex 8000 should require less maintenance than one powered by a combustion engine, and most repairs can be done remotely over the software, which is a huge advantage.”
Made of stern stuff
X Shore has managed to design a boat charged by electric power only, but what is it really made of? The Eelex 8000 isn’t just another piece of flotsam on the high seas, but rather an accumulation of light recyclable materials that allow users to sail with a minimal carbon footprint, or should we say, wake.
Our intention is to move the entire boating industry closer to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals… we see it as our responsibility to push the more traditional boat manufacturers to become more sustainable themselves.– Jenny Keisu, CEO of X Shore
The hull uses (optional) flax fabric and recycled PET to make it durable but light as a proverbial feather, while the deck makes use of cork, one of the most sustainable natural materials in the world. That’s because the bark of cork trees is naturally shed every few years to allow for the tree to grow, allowing people to harvest and use it for industrial purposes without pulling down a single tree.
Demand for sustainable boats is rising, according to Jenny. The United States is considered one of X Shore’s prime markets where they just launched, with Norway joining its growing list of customer bases. Rising demand means a need to boost production through a new plant in the Stockholm region of Sweden. Jenny remarks on this, saying: “We want to scale globally, at pace, so this new factory should provide the blueprint for many future factories internationally.”
As of March 2021, X Shore was marketing the Eelex 8000 to no fewer than three continents, and just sealed a €15 million round of funding, allowing it to pursue its objectives in electrifying US boating. “X Shore’s main goal is to achieve a future where every boat is electric”, according to Jenny. “The tipping point will be reached – like many other industries which are also being disrupted by technology – once the user experience itself improves beyond a certain level, preventing any way back.”
Just as EVs on dry land are expected to become more efficient, cheaper and charge quicker, with greater coverage of charging points, the world of boating faces that much-needed disruption from the status quo, to electrify the waves. The very oceans electric boats will ride upon will be directly impacted by climate change through rising sea levels, as global temperatures rise. As demand for X Shore’s boats goes to show, there is an increasing appetite to change boating for the better.
But is X Shore optimistic about the future, or can it see stormier weather on the horizon?
“At X Shore, everything we do is about being more future-positive”, says Jenny. “Our intention is to move the entire boating industry closer to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, so as the front-runners, we see it as our responsibility to push the more traditional boat manufacturers to become more sustainable themselves.”
Jenny admits that many of us wouldn’t necessarily consider ourselves ‘conscious consumers’ just yet, but by demonstrating how boats can be presented in a more sustainable manner, X Shore’s work could challenge how we view the way we travel, persuading more of us to follow in its wake.