Mercedes-Benz hosted us in Miami a several weeks ago to get more acquainted with its latest cooperative adventure – a partnership with Cigarette Racing to build an all-electric racing boat. While we posted on the Cigarette AMG Electric Drive Concept after its worldwide introduction at the Miami Boat Show, its automotive-based technology is innovative enough to warrant a closer look.

Cigarette Racing has been building some of the world's finest high-performance boats – and racing them to victory – since the late 1960s. With more than four decades of experience under its decks, there might not be another boatmaker that offers a range combining this much military, yachting, aerospace and boat-building technologies. Cigarettes are hideously expensive, but they appeal to those seeking watercraft that are fast, uncompromising and exclusive. It goes without saying that they occupy rare waters – the highlighter-yellow boat seen above even more so than most.

The Cigarette AMG Electric Drive Concept wasn't a complete surprise. As you may recall, Mercedes-Benz and Cigarette Racing have been in cahoots several times before. After announcing a partnership in late 2009, the team introduced an SL-inspired speed boat in 2010 and an impressive followup Black Series racer in 2012. A joint venture for 2013 was almost expected, but nobody predicted the all-electric result.

It takes tremendous thrust to move anything on the water at Autobahn speeds, let alone a 38-foot boat with an eight-foot beam that weighs more than 10,000 pounds. To overcome massive water and air resistance, both of the aforementioned project boats have featured powerful combustion engines (e.g., a pair of twin-turbocharged 552-cubic-inch Mercury Racing engines developing a combined 2,700 horsepower) allowing them to crack 125 mph. (To demonstrate such wrath and in the process completely change the way we look at power boats, Cigarette took us for a quick spin in a 50-foot Marauder and we effortlessly hit a blistering GPS-verified 106 mph on Miami's Biscayne Bay.)

Realizing that it would take immense power to achieve similar levels of performance in a pure-electric boat, the engineers at AMG turned to the powerplant in the SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive. With an electric motor at each wheel, the gullwing does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds – but the Cigarette needed more power. Much more.

The solution was found by using a dozen of the compact liquid-cooled permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors, each delivering 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The team mounted them in clusters of six to create two separate drive units, and provided each unit with its own transmission. Power is routed to a pair of razor-sharp six-blade polished stainless steel props in the rear of the boat (note the Plexiglas covers over the props in the pictures, fitted to prevent spectators from slicing off fingers).



In terms of energy storage, the Cigarette is fitted with four high-tech lithium-ion batteries with a total of 48 modules and 3,456 cells. Total capacity of the 400-volt system is 240 kilowatt hours with an electric output of 2,400 kilowatts (there is also a traditional 12-volt marine system to run lights, accessories and to provide startup power). Recharging takes as little as three hours with the standard 44-kilowatt on-board charger and four optional rapid on-board chargers, while standard charging takes about seven hours at the marina.

The drive units are mounted in the rear of the Cigarette boat under a hydraulically operated engine cover in similar location to the gasoline-fed V8 engines they replace. The heavy batteries are mounted at the bottom of the hull beneath the passenger compartment, to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. Besides exhibiting impeccable showroom-ready build quality, everything is water resistant – getting stuck in a Florida downpour with the engine cover open should never be a problem.



The Cigarette AMG Electric Drive Concept we visited has yet to float – the key word is "concept" – but its calculated performance means it should rival its combustion counterparts. The motors make a combined 2,200 horsepower and 2,213 pound-feet of torque. With zero turbo lag (electric torque is available immediately), acceleration should be spear gun quick with a top speed in excess of 100-plus mph.

But don't assume that an all-electric Cigarette will deliver an abbreviated and unfulfilling boating experience. The powerplant team say they've packed enough juice into the 38-footer's battery pack to provide more than enough thrills to keep even an old salt grinning –a typical outing includes 30 minutes of idle, 30 minutes of 60 mph cruise and five minutes of blast time at 100-plus mph with an additional safety margin thrown in there to alleviate range anxiety. Despite those massive "Electric Drive" letters painted on its side, this boat wasn't designed to be lifeless and bland.

Electric power in recreational boating is nothing new, but scrutinizing this project reveals that the engineers have raised the bar to pioneering levels. To construct a watercraft this potent – and still provide a usable operating window – is impressive. As of today, Cigarette Racing and AMG have built just one Electric Drive Concept, but they say they have the capacity to build more. If owning the world's most powerful and fastest electrically driven offshore powerboat is on your bucket list, and you happen to have the means to plunk down millions for the early bragging rights, then pack your SPF 30 and give them a call.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      Peter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wouldn't electric boats be extremely nice for all things living in the sea because there is practically no sound underwater?
        Suzq044
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Peter
        until water gets where it's not supposed to, I'm sure.
        csgill75
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Peter
        This will still make plenty of noise underwater, The cavitation sound from the props wouldn't change because its electric.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Peter
        The typical cigarette boat owner couldn't give a crap about making noise underwater.
      stecki3d
      • 1 Year Ago
      where is the PC police on allowing this to still be called Cigarette??? Think of the children who will start smoking now...
      tbird57w
      • 1 Year Ago
      the car looks bad enough without it being yellow!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tbird57w
        [blocked]
      sumfoo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Awesome.... now... WHERE ARE THE SOLAR PANELS?!?!?! I hate them for home use and "green" use because they don't have a viable payback without huge tax subsidies. But on a boat... you could put them all up the front of the hull even absorbing reflections off the water... it would be a HUGE longevity advantage... not to mention of you "run out of juice" you could just float for a while to get plenty for the ride home... and still run the fridge/stereo etc... The fact that they'll need to be replaced in 9 or 10 years wouldn't be a big deal because your average boat would already cost a fortune in maintenance by then.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sumfoo1
        [blocked]
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sumfoo1
        Solar panels whould be best installed wherever the boat is stored, at the dock or on the trailer or garage. Why carry around that extra weight, when the amount of charge it would recieve while under way is practically negligable?
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          Why install them at the dock either? If you\'re worried about the price of electricity or reducing natural resources; wouldn\'t it make more sense to just install solar panels on your house where they can be used every time the sun is up; rather than on your toy boat which you may use a dozen times a year?
      Suzq044
      • 1 Year Ago
      ooh, highlighter yellow.. my favorite! /sarcasm.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Motorolabizz
      • 1 Year Ago
      That boat is pure sex...I want a ride in it, NOW!
      bll
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmmm an electric boat in water,can't say i would be interested in that one.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      My guesstimates: Top speed at full 2220 hp: 117 mph Blast time under full power (90% battery draw): 7 minutes, 49 seconds Range under full power: 15.3 miles Range at 60 mph (298.6 hp): 58.2 miles Range at 40 mph (88.5 hp): 130.9 miles
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Total capacity of the 400-volt system is 240 kilowatt hours" "The motors make a combined 2,200 horsepower" (that's 1620 kw) 240 kwh / 2200kw = .109 hours = 6.5 minutes of run time.
        JakeY
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        A typical cigarette boat has a 150-300 gallon tank. Using a fuel consumption formula (0.5/6.1 gallons per hour per hp) a 2200hp gas engine at full bore would use 180 gallons per hour. That translates to about 50 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes of run time at full power. http://www.boatingmag.com/skills/calculating-fuel-consumption Of course the boat won't be going full power even at top speed (only when during full acceleration). From the article, for this boat "a typical outing includes 30 minutes of idle, 30 minutes of 60 mph cruise and five minutes of blast time at 100-plus mph with an additional safety margin". It's not going to be long range (about 40-50 miles of cruising range based on that description). A 1000hp 38 foot cigarette boat at 60mph cruise would get about 0.77mpg, with a 200 gallon tank would have 180 miles of range. http://www.boattest.com/boats/boat_video.aspx?ID=8
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
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