A Kiama business making environmentally friendly electric outboard motors is generating so much business it has opened a showroom and taken its first export orders from New Zealand and the Netherlands.
E Class Outboards, a collaboration between businesswoman Lynelle Johnson and automotive engineer Ron Kelly, produces a range of portable electric outboards up to 40hp as an affordable environmentally friendly replacement to 2 Stroke and 4 Stoke outboards.
While it was difficult at first to keep the price down and achieve good range, batteries keep improving and cost keeps coming down.
E Class Outboards have reached the stage of development where more people are interested because of their improved performance and minimal impact on the environment.
Initially most of the inquiries came from recreational fishers wanting to use existing outboard motor casings and have them fitted with an electric motor. But three distinct markets have emerged as interest in the environmentally friendly product grows.
Boaters and fishers are realising that while the initial purchase price is still higher than a traditional motor there is no more fuel to buy or servicing required.
Ms Johnson said marinas, aquaculture and hire boats make up one sector of the market as governments, councils, port authorities, oyster farmers and seaweed farmers show growing interest.
The second market is people with yachts and large boats who want an electric motor for their tender or an auxiliary motor for their yacht. Many tell Ms Johnson they don't want any petrol on their boat. And using an E Class Outboard lowers their insurance premium.
The third sector of the market is the youngest.
"They are the early adopters who want electric power for their boats. They tend to be aged between 30 and 50, tech savvy and often own their own company," Ms Johnson said.
An E Class Outboard was recently sold to Auckland's largest marina and an electric boat builder in the Netherlands who wants to become an affiliate to sell them in the huge market emerging in that country. In Amsterdam the council wants all petrol engines off canals and waterways within four years.
"That equates to 12,000 engines," Ms Johnson said.
She said the new showroom and workshop in Brown St, Kiama is presently open by appointment and there will be a grand opening soon.
Ms Johnson is expecting more interest in eOutboards as more Australians adopt electric vehicles. Which is one of the reasons Mr Kelly is training others to help him build electric outboards.
Mr Kelly inspected Shellharbour Marina on Wednesday and described it as the best designed marina he has seen. And would love to see electric outboards being used there.
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