Flux Marine is benefiting from an influx of new financing. The Rhode Island developer of all-electric outboard motors and personal watercraft battery systems said it raised $15.5 million in an oversubscribed Series A funding round.
The effort was led by Ocean Zero LLC, a fund created by TED Lectures Director Chris Anderson and veteran tech editor Stephen Petranek to invest in accelerating alternative energy solutions for transportation. consumer and commercial maritime, according to Marine Flow CEO Ben Sorkin.
The round also attracted participation from Boost VC and Winklevoss Capital, and saw majority participation from former angel and seed investors.
Flux Marine plans to begin deliveries to customers next month, with full production by summer 2023.
“We’re a team of about a dozen now,” Sorkin said. “The plan is, over the next 12 to 18 months, to hire between 30 and 40 people.”
The company has begun the move to a renovated 40,000 square foot facility in a business park in Bristol, Rhode Island, which will serve as manufacturing, research and development and office space.
Flux Marine boasts a unique design that offers “unrivaled acceleration, optimum range and zero maintenance without increasing the overall weight of a boat”, says the company.
“By completely re-engineering the outboard motor to deliver emission-free power, Flux Marine electric outboards exceed the performance of fossil-fuel engines.”
The range includes 15, 40, 70 and 100 horsepower electric outboards. The units incorporate technology designed from the ground up, Sorkin says, rather than simply putting vehicle electronics inside the shells of traditional combustion engines.
For example, Flux’s 100-horsepower outboard weighs about 160 pounds, a third more than competing electric or gasoline engines, the CEO says. “We are able to stack a few extra batteries while maintaining the overall system weight that you would have with gas.”
While range depends on hull design and operating conditions, a 100-hp Flux Marine outboard mounted on a 22-foot dual console hull offers top speeds close to 35 knots with a range of more than 75 nautical miles on a single charge, according to the company.
The pitch, beyond an engine that can propel a boat much quieter than a gas-powered version, is to eliminate harmful emissions from the equation.
“One of the most important things is that not all outboard motors made in these horsepower ranges have catalytic converterssays Sorkin. “For every gallon of gasoline burned, compared to a car, you could see over 100 times more particulates in the environment from an outboard motor without a catalytic converter.”
And it’s on the water.
“Boating is one of those things that people do because they love it,” he says. “We really want to use technology to create the best browsing experience for people today and for future generations.”
As for the zero maintenance aspect: on a standard gasoline engine, there is usually annual maintenance such as winterizing and de-wintering, as well as maintenance every 100 or 200 hours. “Some new engines, when you buy them, you’re asked to bring them in at 8 p.m. for maintenance,” notes Sorkin. “With the Flux Marine design, we really eliminate as many moving components as possible. One exciting technology is a completely closed loop cooling system.
Torque is another strong point. Gasoline outboards have peak and continuous horsepower that is about the same. The Flux Marine has continuous, peak power, so a 40 horsepower model is still capable of 40 horsepower, but has up to 60 horsepower available for acceleration, Sorkin says.
He thinks it’s important to be transparent about power ratings.
“We want electrification to succeed as a whole,” including for competing electric vehicle companies. “We believe electrification has a huge role in the future of the Navy and we want people to see it, trust it and be able to embrace it.”
And it’s not just Sorkin talking. Investors in the latest $15.5 million funding round are an eclectic and passionate bunch. You might recognize the Winklevoss name from the twin brothers featured in the movie “The Social Network,” who battled with Facebook and later became Bitcoin billionaires.
Stephen Petranek, operating partner of Ocean Zero LLC, said in a statement that his fund “invests in young, innovative companies that can make a decisive difference in decarbonizing transportation on the world’s oceans, rivers and seas.”
“Commercial shipping and recreational boating produce more (carbon dioxide) emissions each year than all the airlines in the world combined. Flux Marine can have a significant impact on climate change if even a fraction of the 800,000 outboard motors sold each year can be replaced with all-electric motors.
“The electrification of boating will result in a remarkable reduction in the ridiculous amounts of pollution produced by outboard internal combustion engines.”
Boaters can pre-order Flux Marine’s 15, 40 and 70 horsepower self-contained electric outboards, or choose from several electric boat packages up to 100 horsepower.
Flux plans to offer in-person demonstrations this summer at “experience centers” in Greenwich Bay, Rhode Island and Steelpointe HarborConnecticut.