Q-Yachts has set sail to become something that certainly has a nice, positively grandiose ring to it: the Tesla of the seas.
The Finnish company recently launched what it believes could be a market-defining product – a fully electric day cruiser that promises to combine the peaceful and relaxing experience of sailing with the ease and convenience of power-boating.
The Q30 cruiser is equipped with an electric motor that boasts a continuous power output of 20kW and allows for a cruising speed of nine knots and maximum speed of 15 knots – without raising a ruckus or emitting the pungent odour of diesel. The standard, 30kWh-battery pack provides a range of 42 nautical miles at cruising speed and the optional, 60kWh-pack a range of 80 nautical miles.
“We have a very unique product and concept: a boat that has a solid range, looks absolutely gorgeous, is capable of relatively high speeds and, maybe most importantly, is one of the quietest options on the market,” tells Joakim Hildén, the sales director at Q-Yachts.
“Another key factor is that the boat is very easy to own and use because you can charge it by plugging it into a regular wall outlet,” he adds. “Our slogan is drive by day, charge by night.”
The Q30, he reminds, has not been designed for people eager to brave rough open-sea conditions but for people who enjoy sheltered waters.
The Q30 is quiet, comfortable and energy efficient due to its powertrain and hydro-dynamically optimised hull, both of which have been developed based on an idea conceived by Janne Kjellman, the founder of Q-Yachts and Oceanvolt, a Finnish manufacturer of electric engines for boats.
Kjellman, an avid sailor with a propensity for technical innovation, began developing an electric propulsion system for boats after becoming frustrated with the lack of alternatives to the diesel motors purring and sputtering at the sterns of boats.
“Once he found a suitable solution, he approached power-boat manufacturers hoping to find a partner to manufacture electric boats. There was interest, but many manufacturers wanted to fit the engine into their existing boats,” says Hildén.
“The laws of physics and the development of electrical engineering mean that that doesn’t work.”
Kjellman ultimately established Q-Yachts in 2013 and began developing what would later be named the Q30 with Jarkko Jämsén of Navia Design, a Helsinki-based design agency focusing exclusively on boats.
“They started to design a boat from scratch based on the framework provided by the electric propulsion system, rather than the other way around by trying to shoehorn the electric motor into an existing hull,” tells Hildén.
Racing to the market
Q-Yachts completed the first cruiser toward the end of last autumn and, after a series of performance tests, concluded that it works as well – if not better – than expected. The Q30 hit the market last spring, making a splash worldwide.
“It has been wonderful to see how our innovative concept and unbelievably beautiful boat have been received around the world,” says Hildén. “We’ve now sold the first boats, including one to Australia and one to Switzerland. Enquiries have come in from Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, from Europe and North America, as well as from Ecuador.”
The interest is evidence of enormous market potential.
Hildén predicts that the technology and charging infrastructure will improve over the next decade to the extent that virtually all day cruisers will be electric and allow for day-long trips and, even, planing.
“We’re dead certain that this will grow at least as quickly as [electric] cars,” he declares.
“There currently isn’t anyone who’s competing with our concept. But in a few years someone will surely figure out that this is the smart way forward. That’s why we’re in a hurry to enter the markets and gain as strong a market position as possible, so that we have an edge when others wake up,” adds Hildén.