Electric Outboard Motors Guide For [1st-time] Buyer’s

You might find yourself at a crossroads, contemplating and asking yourself, will boating become electric?

While I’ve always had a penchant for two-stroke engines, the appeal of electric motors goes beyond just environmental benefits; their design and operation exude a certain sophistication that’s hard to ignore.

The cost and range have historically been stumbling blocks, but with increased competition and advancements in battery and motor technologies, the narrative is changing.

You may have noticed that numerous companies are vying for attention in this space, from pioneers like Elco to new entrants like Newport Vessels. Each is poised to offer distinct options in power and innovation.

As we scrutinize the market from a consumer standpoint, it becomes imperative to understand how electric counterparts stack up against their gas-fueled contenders in performance and price.

Comparing Electric and Gas Outboard Motors

If you are looking at making the switch from gasoline to electric you need to understand the conversion from kilowatts to horsepower. Once you have this locked down you can logically compare apples to apples.

Brand & ModelTypePriceNote
Suzuki 2.5 HP Gas OutboardGas Outboard$875
Torqeedo 2 HP Electric Outboard (with Integrated Battery)Electric Outboard$2,250Integrated Battery
ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 Plus 3 HP Electric OutboardElectric Outboard$1,449Without battery

Note: ePropulsion’s proprietary battery pack is a hallmark feature, but an additional cost to consider.

It’s clearly evident that electric motors generally come at a higher upfront cost.

Take for example a classic 2.5 horsepower Suzuki gas engine, which is priced at $875.

Comparatively, the Torqeedo 2-horsepower electric outboard with an integrated battery is tagged at $2,250. Similarly, ePropulsion’s Spirit 1.0 Plus, a 3-horsepower electric motor, costs $1,449, although this does not include their proprietary battery. Should you choose the battery-inclusive option, the price jumps to $2,600.

Newport Vessels’ NT 300 model, also 3 horsepower, is more affordable at $999, but you’ll need to purchase a separate battery for around $700, bringing the total closer to $1,700.

Electric motors are recognized for offering smooth operation and immediate torque. Companies like Torqeedo and newcomers like Newport Vessels have made strides in this space.

Externally sourced batteries can potentially reduce the overall cost, but may not provide the same level of integration or convenience as proprietary systems.

The performance of these engines, especially models such as the Spirit 1.0 Plus, has received positive feedback from buyers.

Batteries are a fundamental part of electric propulsion, impacting both range and overall cost.

ePropulsion motors necessitate a proprietary battery, which has its own set of advantages like the ability to float if dropped in water.

Alternatively, the Newport NT 300 recommendation is a 36-volt, 30-amp-hour lithium battery. The external battery requirement offers potential savings if you source a compatible battery at a lower price, though this adds a layer of complexity.

Should you explore constructing your own battery pack or find a third-party vendor, you could further erode the cost gap between electric and gasoline motors.

Bear in mind that not all electric outboards are compatible with third-party batteries, which may limit options and flexibility.

Electric Outboard Motor Companies

The presence of multiple companies indicates a strong directional shift towards electric outboard motors. With the increasing competition and advancement in technology, consumers may soon experience more competitive pricing and product options.

The cost still presents a hurdle when compared to traditional gas outboards, yet electric motors are becoming more financially attainable, especially given the potential long-term benefits and operational savings.

As an American company established in 1892, Elco has a rich history in marine propulsion. They have expanded their catalog to include a variety of electric inboard and outboard motors, with outboard options ranging from 5 to 50 horsepower.

Although I’m familiar with their reputation, spotting an Elco motor on the water seems rare. Have you encountered one?

Founded in 2005 in Europe, Torqeedo offers a diverse range of electric outboard motors extending from 1 horsepower to a robust 80 horsepower.

With over 100,000 customers adopting Torqeedo systems for their vessels, it’s clear that their impact on the marine industry is considerable. You can find their products globally, including retailers like West Marine.

In operation since 2013, ePropulsion is a Chinese company with a reputation for innovation in electric outboards. Their line includes motors from three to 9.9 horsepower.

Numerous local boaters use ePropulsion motors for tenders and other small craft and report high satisfaction with their performance.

I’d recommend diving deeper into comparing ePropulsion vs Torqeedo from a buying point of view.

Newport Vessels, known for trolling motors, is entering the electric outboard market in 2023 with a 3 horsepower motor.

While historically focused on smaller trolling motors, this marks an expansion in their product lineup. Their competitively priced offerings could make electric boating accessible to a broader audience.

Mercury, a household name in boating, is shaping the future with their new Avatar line of electric outboards.

Though the exact output is measured in watts, with their first model labeled as the “7.5 e” suggesting a nod to past naming conventions. Expectations are high for Mercury to carry over their expertise in traditional outboards into electric.

Partnering with General Motors, Pure Watercraft has ventured into powerful outboard solutions, offering a package equivalent to 50 horsepower.

It’s an ambitious stride into larger electric boating options, though at a premium price point. Their partnership indicates significant potential in electric marine propulsion systems.

Vision Marine Technologies is making waves with a high-powered 180-horsepower outboard package. This positions them at the forefront of high-performance electric boating. Given the fewer options for high horsepower in the electric market, their entry represents a significant leap forward.

Reasons To Buy An Electric Outboard Motor

Opting for an electric outboard offers notable benefits, including protection against rising gas prices and lower maintenance needs.

Several factors may influence the future cost of oil (thus, gas) including.

  • The OPEC signatories reducing oil production (as happened in 2022)
  • Major wars affecting supply lines and market sentiment.
  • If the dollar value reduces, the cost of imported gas increases.
  • Other physical, political, or economic instances.

Long-term gas prices will always increase. For example, before 1972, the gas price was $0.38 per gallon; after the 1973 OPEC oil crisis, it rose to $0.55 per gallon. So since 1970, the gas prices we pay in America have increased by 1,182.27%, and this trend will continue.

Purchasing an electric outboard motor insulates you from this variable. It means you can continue to enjoy your boating even when others can’t afford it.

Compared to internal combustion outboard motors, electric units are virtually maintenance-free.

There are components on an internal combustion outboard motor that need regular maintenance. There are also common failure points described in the list below.

Internal Combustion Outboard Motor
Electric Motor Mounted On Top Of The Shaft
Electric Motor “POD” Mounted On The Bottom Of The Shaft (Trolling Motors)
Regular Engines Servicing
Required as per the manufacturer’s instructions
At much longer intervals
At much longer intervals
Service The Ignition System
Yes, change the spark plugs, and check the leads and coils
Service The Gas (Fuel) and the fuel injection system
Clean fuel filters, check fuel pump
Service The Water-Cooling System
The impeller must be changed often. This requires extensive man-hours to remove the lower unit.
Air-cooled (easy-to-change air filters)
Air-cooled (easy-to-change air filters)
Service The Gearbox
The unit is less complicated. Does'nt need to switch forward and reverse gears. Motor direction is simply reversed.
No gearbox because the motor is directly connected to the propellor shaft
Propellor prone to damage
Steering System requires servicing
The electrical system requires servicing

They are almost silent. You can hear the wildlife and hold a conversation with other passengers.

There are no smelly exhaust gasses, and electric outboard motors are virtually vibrationless.

Electric propulsion gives you much greater torque levels than a gas outboard equivalent, meaning they speed up out of the “hole” much faster.

Whatever your perspective on climate change is, I don’t think anyone disputes the fact that the earth needs help.

One of the ways to achieve this on a personal level is to reduce your carbon footprint. The price of electric motors continues to reduce. Restricting the use of emission-producing internal combustion engines is becoming more viable.

Reasons Not To Buy An Electric Motor

In the interest of fairness, the following section discusses the downsides of owning an electric motor. It also provides information on the difficulties with the current technology.

The cost must include the price of batteries and related hardware. This makes electric motors cost 80% more than the equal gas-powered unit.

The saving in cost of consumables (gas, oil, and servicing) is much less. Electric outboards are estimated to only pay for themselves after 300 hours of use. Of course, if there is a spike in the gas price, breakeven will happen earlier.

This is largely dependent on what batteries are on the boat. But like for like the range is generally less than compared to gasoline.

However, boat builders like Lasai are harnessing solar to create a limitless range.

One of the reasons you are reading this article is that it is difficult to find electric outboard motors specialists with good knowledge. At and at the moment, the industry is “feeling its way” to understanding what the best solutions are.

High-power electric motors will gain more traction in the boating world. This will cause the situation to change; however, the depth of knowledge available with gas-powered engines will take some time to be matched.

Buying Advice

Electric outboards are new territory for most people (even the sales staff at the dealerships). Therefore, first-time buyers must understand as much as possible regarding their circumstances and needs.

You should consider the following when choosing an electric outboard motor.

When contemplating power, look beyond the figures. An electric motor’s nominal power may sometimes be presented differently, as evidenced by Mercury’s Avatar 7.5e, which denotes wattage rather than horsepower.

Don’t end up in a situation with insufficient power.

A rule of thumb is that 2 lbs. of thrust should be produced by the motor for every 100 lbs. of fully loaded weight of the boat. The power that is required rises if the sea conditions increase.

Higher power motors may be beneficial in the following circumstances:

1️⃣ If the electric outboard motor powers a boat in rough sea conditions.
2️⃣ If the boat regularly carries more passengers or cargo, which increases the weight above the norm.
3️⃣ A higher-power electric outboard motor will use less battery than a smaller engine if run at the same speed.

Many electric outboard motors are equipped with an internal lithium-ion battery.

Boats used as tenders may transit open sea conditions for more extended periods. These must have a sufficient range (with a 50% margin) to travel both ways – unless they can be recharged at the shore.

When choosing the best engine for your needs, ensure that it produces enough range. The combination of the internal and extended batteries will affect the range.

Most electric outboard boat motors are equipped with range meters showing how much distance can still be run on that charge. My recommendation is that this is an essential requirement.

Another aspect of the battery’s range is choosing one that supports fast charging times.

Don’t rely on a salesperson with vested interests to teach you about electric motors. They will often bad-mouth competing companies with false information. Read the boat forums and other boaters’ experiences with the different brands.

Don’t buy an electric outboard motor from a new brand that has yet to build a reputation. This may seem harsh to new players. You want to be assured that the manufacturer will stay in business and can, honor the warranty and continue to provide product support.

This may seem a little off-topic. However, when purchasing an expensive item such as an electric boat motor, carefully judge how the sales staff treat you. You should also test how knowledgeable they are.

If they seem to be only regurgitating information you can read from a brochure, proceed with caution.

You can purchase from online stores (Amazon). But I recommend finding a local boat shop that can provide after-sales service.

An excellent method to check the boat shop’s ability is to visit its maintenance department. Then, when you talk to the workshop manager – you will quickly get an idea of their level of expertise.

Closing Remarks

Smaller electric outboard engines have reached maturity. It makes them a viable alternative to gas-powered units. The upfront costs are higher. But at around 300 hours of running, the breakeven point will be reached, and they will cost less and be more reliable.

The same cannot be said for larger electric outboard engines. This technology still needs further development. At the moment, they are less competitive than gas-powered units.

Considering the advancements in battery and motor efficiencies, are you swayed towards the quieter, cleaner, and increasingly competitive electric options?

Frequently Asked

A rule of thumb is that the outboard motor should produce 2 lbs. of thrust for each band of 100 lbs. of fully loaded weight of the boat.

The range of electric outboard motors depends on the following.

  • The motor’s size.
  • The installed battery capacity.
  • The weight of the passengers and “cargo” on the boat.
  • The water conditions.
  • The speed at which they are run.

Some manufacturers claim that their electric outboard engines can travel for 70 miles. These ranges are achieved at medium power settings.

The highest horsepower electric outboard motors generate the same power as a 150hp engine. Several manufacturers (EVOY being one example) are developing higher-powered models. They estimate it will produce up to the equivalent of 450 hp.

Electric outboard motors cost more than internal combustion outboards. However, they need less servicing and use no consumables (gas, oil, spark plugs, fuel filters, etc.). It means they will begin to cover their costs after approximately 300 hours of use. If gas prices increase, the breakeven point will be achieved more quickly.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Kite Ship. The electrification of boating is the most exciting thing to happen to the marine industry in a generation! Welcome, and I hope that we can provide the portal you need to dive into the world of electric propulsion and power.