Electric boats aren't exactly new. Sport fishing enthusiasts have long relied on electric trolling motors that are less likely to disturb the fish they're trying to catch and make it easy to maneuver in tight spaces. What EPIC has done with its 232se is taken the known benefits of electric power and applied them to a sport boat. The environmental impact of recreational boating may be minimal compared to automobiles, but recently the EPA has began to more heavily regulate watercraft as well. About a decade ago, dirty two stroke engines were all but banned from US waterways and in 2010 stricter EPA rules regulating both inboard and outboard marine engines went into effect. Some lakes in North America and Europe have banned gas burning engines altogether. In light of these new regulations, and the likelihood of even stricter rules in the future, electric-powered boats like the EPIC 232se start to make a lot of sense.

Not contaminating the natural environment we so much enjoy is an obvious benefit to electric boaters, but there are more selfish advantages too. For one thing, an electric boat is much quieter than a standard ICE boat and that means local residents are more likely to accept boating near their homes. Also, the lack of noise makes for a more enjoyable boating experience--imagine being able to have conversations at normal volume or actually being able to hear the multi-speaker, dual-amp sound system you spent so much money on.

Another advantage of electric power is the massive amount of immediately available torque the motors produce. Epic says their sport boat is good for 664 lb-ft of torque, which makes it quicker and easier to pull wake boarders up and out of the water. As a result, wakeboarders and waterskiers can enjoy their sport on smaller bodies of water.

Of course an electric sport boat is not without its compromises. Just like electric cars, owners of battery powered boats have to worry about limited range and potentially lengthy recharge times. To insure you're never stranded, the EPIC does have a "limp-home" mode where the prop is kept spinning just enough for you to make it to shore should you misjudge how much juice you'll need to get back. Also, the estimated 10 hour running time for the 232se depends on how the boat is being used. Company literature says to expect only a single hour of battery life if you're running all-out in full wakeboard mode.

At this point, the main barrier to electric boat ownership for most people is likely the price. A nicely equipped 232se will run around $150,000. Considering you can get a really nice ICE powered sport boat for about $30,000 the numbers don't ultimately add up for most. Still, some lakes in Europe have begun charging an environmental fee for ICE boaters that can run as much as 500 Euro per year. Skip that fee, plus the money saved on not buying gas, and you may be able to make some sense of the price.

Like all forms of alternative power, the real key to success is to make it affordable. Automobiles are dealing with that now and we expect pleasure craft like boats to follow closely behind. EPIC says they're committed to building green powerboats, so look for the San Diego, California based company to lead the way.

Click the image below to watch TRANSLOGIC 63: EPIC 232se Electric Sport Boat:


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