The US green propulsion sector has taken off on an unprecedented scale in the past five years. Admittedly, it took a while to get into gear, though increasingly stringent emissions legislation (spearheaded by California) and exorbitant fuel costs have helped to push battery-powered solutions forward.
Diane Seltzer, co-founder and CMO of Pennsylvania-based start-up Epoch Boats, tells Ship & Boat International: “We are seeing increased interest in the US market for electric vehicles [EVs] of all styles. The automotive sector has done a great job of showing the benefits of EVs over internal combustion engine [ICE] vehicles, and helped to reframe the conversation around use case instead of edge case. Additionally, regulatory tailwinds like the California Air Resources Board [CARB] regulations regarding non-CO2 emissions and electric-only waterways, representing 47% of all public waterways in our home state of Pennsylvania, continue to move the market forward.
"US boaters want low-hassle, high-performance, affordable electric boats, and the lack of options on the market has probably been the biggest barrier to mass adoption. Epoch intends to change that very quickly.”
Alongside co-founder and CEO Tom Ward, Seltzer established Epoch to serve as “a marine climate-tech company that makes really cool boats”. This has led to the development of the Epoch Skiff concept – an all-electric, aluminium skiff boat deploying a patent-pending hydrofoil hull design and an electric outboard motor. Ward explains: “Our goal was to develop a more eco-friendly boat, but we knew that it also had to have the performance and wow factor that today’s boaters want. Most electric boats are either too slow or too expensive for the average boater. Epoch’s boats are designed to work efficiently with an electric motor and relatively small battery pack for higher performance, range and speed at a cost comparable to many similarly optioned gas-powered boats.”
The Epoch Skiff is primarily aimed at recreational boaters, and has been made available in three versions, measuring 4.3m, 4.9m or 5.5m in length, and with beams of between 1.9-2.1m at the deck and 1.4-1.65m at the waterline. Depending on the size selected, the Epoch Skiff can carry between two and five persons.
The Epoch Skiff’s hydrofoil system automatically deploys at speed to lift the boat out of the water, reducing drag and permitting speeds in excess of 26knots when using a 7.5-11kW equivalent electric motor and a 5kWh battery set-up. Epoch states: “The hydrofoil hull design extends the speed and efficiency of electric motors by 2x; reduces propulsive power requirements by 75%; and alleviates the ‘range anxiety’ commonly associated with electric boating.” It could also lead to estimated annual savings of US$1,000 in fuel and maintenance for the average owner, the company claims.
4.3m / 4.9m / 5.5m
1.9-2.1m (deck) /
170-306kg (dry) /
215-352kg (with engine and battery)
(For the full in-depth article, see Ship & Boat International May/June 2022)