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Evoy, a portmanteau for “electric voyage,” has been in the business of creating 100% green, emission-free experiences on the water since 2018. The company focuses solely on propulsion, building a series of electric motors for inboard and outboard applications, and in 2022 secured €7.3 million ($7.12 million) in capital from an ongoing series of investment rounds, with €3 million ($2.97 million) alone coming from the European Union’s Innovation Council.

The company recently announced a partnership with Aqua superPower, which is in the process of rolling out a dockside network of fast-charging stations around the world. The largest beneficiary by far will be commercial operators that have already adopted electric propulsion fleetwide, as well as most of Evoy’s current clientele.

American boaters may have heard of Evoy because, in summer 2019, its demo boat Evoy1 — after being christened by the prime minister of Norway — claimed an unofficial record as the fastest production electric boat in the world, with a speed of 55 knots. Evoy founder and CEO Leif A. Stavøstrand says the next-generation Evoy Explorer can go even faster. And it’s not even fully optimized yet.

Evoy’s headquarters in Norway looks like it belongs to a Silicon Valley startup, with as many programmers and developers wearing T-shirts and turtlenecks as there are mechanical technicians wrenching on motors. Behind his desk, Stavøstrand has a map of the world affixed to the wall, with thumbtacks marking places of interest. He says he hopes to have Evoy’s first electronic systems arrive on U.S. shores sometime in 2023 after initiating dialogues with certain builders that he declined to name.

Half of the traffic to Evoy’s website, he adds, is from the United States.

The waters around Florø, Norway, are the perfect testing grounds for Evoy’s electric motors. 

The waters around Florø, Norway, are the perfect testing grounds for Evoy’s electric motors. 

Where Evoy Was Born

Florø, a sleepy town on the westernmost shores of Norway, was for the longest time preoccupied with the landing of wild-caught herring. The shiny-scaled havets sølv — Norwegian for “the silver of the sea” — can be abundant closer to shore when they migrate into the fjords to spawn, which was welcome news for fishermen living and working among the islands, islets and skerries that make up the vast archipelago. Herring were still closely tied with the town’s identity when exploratory offshore platforms were constructed in the North Sea in the mid-’60s, and drilling for oil began in earnest five years later.

Today, farmed salmon is far and away the leading catch, if you can even call it that, and Saga Fjordbase, along with the hundreds of oil rigs operating in the North Sea, provide job opportunities for the 9,000 people living in Florø. Saga Fjordbase also counts itself, somewhat improbably, as Stavøstrand’s former employer.

During his six-year tenure in executive management with Saga Fjordbase — the last two years as CEO — Stavøstrand built the soft skills and conviction he needed to see his plan for Evoy through. Doing so would necessitate selling three of his boats and his car, refinancing his house, and living on nothing but his savings while deferring a salary for a year, until the company was approached by a group of investors.

The 43-year-old Norwegian entrepreneur also credits his two daughters. He couldn’t help but think of them, their future and the reckoning he believes is coming in their lifetime — especially for those like him, with crude oil on their hands.

A worker installs wiring on an Evoy outboard. 

A worker installs wiring on an Evoy outboard. 

“Twenty years from now, when my kids are grown up and I maybe even have grandkids, you’re going to have to look them in the eyes and say, ‘I was a part of this [mess], or I tried to do something about it,’” he says.

On Board in the Elements

Doing something about it, on this day, led us to the floating docks in the center of town. It was cold, wet and dreary, perfect weather to go boating in coastal Norway, which routinely gets battered by gale-force winds. Leaning into the motherland’s fierce meteorological conditions, Evoy offers its inboard and outboard motors in a series of progressively powerful, wind-inspired names: the lowly Breeze, the 200-hp Gale and the supercharged 300-hp Storm.

I zipped up my highlighter-yellow neoprene suit all the way to my chin. My eyes followed the low, leaden sky to the highest point across the channel, where a blanket of snow dusted the highest parts of a mountain range. Spinning on top of its highest ridge, like so many steel pinwheels, were a series of wind turbines. “We have to power these electric boats somehow,” Stavøstrand said.

The 400-hp Evoy Explorer on a sprint. 

The 400-hp Evoy Explorer on a sprint. 

Near us was the sleek, aerodynamic Goldfish X9, equipped with the company’s Hurricane motor. At 400 hp, the inboard sterndrive — powered by twin 63-kWh lithium-iron-phosphate batteries — is Evoy’s most powerful to date. Given that the energy density of lithium-ion cells has markedly improved while lightweight composite materials have become less expensive, Evoy now has competitors racing to win the green revolution.

“I would be really worried by now if we didn’t have any competitors,” Stavøstrand said. “One of our main barriers is building trust. We need people to trust that this is a feasible and viable product, right? But it’s hard to do that alone, so we welcome them.”

Electric-car owners accustomed to a lifetime of gas pumps need a crash course in electrical architecture and systems; for most boaters, this comes with the territory. With a 120-kW DC charge (the Aqua superPower stations are rated for 150 kW), the X9 — aka Evoy Explorer — could be powered to 85 percent battery capacity in just 45 minutes. That’s faster than getting seated, ordering, eating lunch and paying the bill at most places. And the average 30- or 50-amp dock pedestal can easily charge the batteries overnight, or provide a little juice in a pinch.

Evoy’s factory and campus resemble a Silicon Valley startup, with as many programmers and developers as there are technicians and assemblers.

Evoy’s factory and campus resemble a Silicon Valley startup, with as many programmers and developers as there are technicians and assemblers.

And then there’s the whisper-quiet ride that an electric boat affords, not to mention the lack of a fuel tank, internal combustion engine and thousands of parts that can fail at a moment’s notice.

Cruising at 20 knots, the Evoy Explorer’s semienclosed helm provided brief respite from the elements. Standing at the helm, I opened up the throttle and unleashed the Hurricane. The motor sent us flying at 58 knots past the shipping lanes and the Stabben Fyr lighthouse. In 2022, I didn’t know it was possible to go that fast in an electric boat.

Continuing Tech Evolution

The only problem was that we couldn’t maintain that speed for too long before the system limited us to prevent straining the batteries. We had configured the starboard screen with a chart plotter, while the port screen tracked the duration of time left before recharging. At 50 knots, it was 22 miles, and at a 35-knot cruising speed, it was around 28 miles. The screen also tracked battery temperature across two gauges and the overall level of charge. At much lower speeds — say, 5 knots — we could take Evoy’s boats more than 60 miles before the battery turned red.

Range anxiety is an issue for electric-boat buyers. That’s why builders are experimenting with underwater foils and hull structures, trying to wring every available ounce of juice they can out of the batteries. The effort is creating what Stavøstrand calls “an arms race, and it’s coming like a bullet.” He adds: “We used to be able to say we had fewer people going 50 knots in an electric boat than have been on the moon.”

And the technological advancements don’t stop there. These boats have a “brain” — an Internet of Things processor that sends more than 500 data points every second to a cloud-based interface. Back in Evoy’s offices, software developers can look at the metrics and extrapolate a number of things, such as predictive maintenance and anomaly detection. (Evoy’s first client pulled a jellyfish into his seawater intake, a problem detected by one of the analysts who noted an abnormal increase in temperature in the on-board cooling system.)

On the user-side interface, boaters can view the trip log, and the location of the vessel on a map. They can start and stop charging on demand, and set the desired amount of charge. At the time of this writing, a charging log, geofence, alerts, and the ability to preheat the cabin and book service appointments were reportedly coming soon.

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“We’re not reinventing the wheel; we can’t claim that, because electrification is all around us,” Stavøstrand says. “We’re just taking the best parts we can possibly find globally, and where we don’t find them, we build them ourselves — and then just putting them together into a system and commercializing it. It’s not … well, it’s a little bit rocket science, to be honest. But not totally.” 

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue.

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