The X Shore electric boat is the Tesla of the sea

x shore electric boat

The Eelex 8000 electric boat might just be the Tesla of the sea. Built by X Shore in Stockholm, Sweden recycled and recyclable materials — cork, reused bottles, recycled plastic, flax — the Eelex 8000 cruises for up 20 hours on battery power. It knows when you fall overboard, and it won’t go beyond geo-fences that you set up.

Like Tesla, X Shore offers an autopilot (including auto-docking) and it goes 35 knots or 65 kilometers an hour flat out.

This electric boat also has a modular design and will save you about $800 every time you “fuel up,” as it only costs $10-20 to recharge the batteries.

In this episode of TechFirst with John Koetsier, we’re chatting with Jenny Keisu, the CEO of X Shore, which has just released the ELX 8,000 and raised $17 million to bring it to a harbor near you.

Scroll down to subscribe to the podcast, watch the video, and read the transcript … or check out my story on Forbes based on this interview.

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Read: The X Shore EV boat offers guilt-free green boating

(This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)

John Koetsier:  Welcome to the Tesla of the Sea. This electric boat cruises 20 hours on battery power. It knows when you fall overboard. It won’t go beyond geo-fences that you set up. It offers autopilot and goes 35 knots or 65 kilometers an hour flat out. It offers a modular design and will save you $800 every time you “fuel up.”

In this episode of TechFirst, we’re chatting with the CEO of X shore, which has just released the Eelex 8000 electric boat and raised $17 million to bring it to a harbor near you. Jenny, let’s start here: what does it feel like to drive an electric boat?

Jenny Keisu: Well, honestly, it’s an amazing experience. Have you ever driven a Tesla? 

John Koetsier: I have not driven a Tesla. I own a Nissan Leaf. I’d love a Tesla — it’s on my list, but, haven’t yet. 

x shore electric boat

The Eelex 8000 electric boat by X Shore in action.

Jenny Keisu: So when you drive an electric car, in general, you will experience this incredible acceleration that you’re not used to from a sort of normal combustion engine car or combustion engine boat, and the same experience you get here. So basically you have an amazing torque, just going full throttle, the acceleration just, you know, in a car you get pushed back into your seat, and in the boat it’s kind of the same feeling.

You basically need to decide whether to have your eyes open or closed because you can’t change that when you’re going full throttle. So from a sort of fun, acceleration perspective, it’s amazing.

And then I think if you look at electrical vehicles, I mean, you don’t — you’re not bothered by the fumes because those aren’t outside of the car, and also the noise. So, I mean, having an electric boat is much more, extreme experience from that perspective, because you don’t get any fumes that you otherwise would get right up your face, and you don’t have any noise. So you can talk to someone else, even if you go at full speed.

So the only thing you hear is water and wind. And if you go at lower speed, it’s absolutely silent. So it’s just an amazing experience.    

Silent, fast boating

John Koetsier: That must be amazing, and I look forward to testing it out and trying it one of these days, because I mean, of course my experience of driving/piloting a powerboat or being on one is it’s noisy as hell. It’s really loud. It’s extremely loud. It’s fun. It’s exhilarating, but you can’t do half an hour of that or an hour of that, and …  it’s too much, right? 

Jenny Keisu, CEO of X Shore

Jenny Keisu: Yeah, yeah. So normally you tap someone’s shoulder to have them turn off the engine so you can talk, and here you can go full throttle and still have a conversation. I mean, it’s great. 

John Koetsier: Yes. So talk to me about the boat a little bit. Obviously it has electric propulsion, but it’s not the only thing you changed. You did a lot that’s different and unique about this boat. 

Jenny Keisu: So basically what we’re trying to do is, of course, to drive the transformation that you’ve seen in the automotive industry from combustion engine cars to electric cars.

We’re trying to drive that in the marine segment, and we believe that in order for people to change, the product needs to be better. It needs to be a better user experience. We won’t change just because it’s more environmental friendly or something like that.

And we also believe that people would still, if you want to go fast in a boat, you still want to go fast, and most electric boats can only go 5 to 12 knots. I mean, 50 knots is pretty fast for a normal electric boat. So for us, we’ve tried to create a boat which can — you can play along with your friends, like wakeboarding, go water skiing, what have you at higher speeds for like a couple of hours. And then if you go at slower speeds, you can go for 20 hours and just be out in the silent, and you just feel like you’re part of nature, fishing or whatever, so—

John Koetsier: 20 hours of cruising?

Jenny Keisu: 20 hours, yes.

John Koetsier: Wow! Impressive. Very impressive.

Jenny Keisu: It is. But then you go at lower speeds, right? That’s definitely not full speed. So if you go at planing speeds, it’s a bit more than two hours maybe, and then you need to charge again.

John Koetsier: So for us landlubbers, what is 35 knots in miles per hour, kilometers per hour, all that? 

Jenny Keisu: So we have a top speed of 35 knots and that translates into 40 miles per hour. So it’s pretty fast. 

John Koetsier: That’s very fast on water. That’s  — it feels faster on water than it feels on land. So the boat is also, it’s not just EV, but you’ve designed the hull differently, from different materials as well. Talk to me about that. 

Modularity: X Shore designed Eelex 8000 for multiple purposes

Jenny Keisu: So basically first, as you say, it’s an electric vehicle, which is pretty different just there. And then you have, we have a lot of modularity, so you can design the boat the way you like it. It comes as a just open, bare boat, and we have different modules.

So you can opt for a social module, like sun beds, sofas, tables. You can also opt for diving modules, fishing modules, and you can swap. Like two people can just flip up those modules, change, and then put them back on. So you can have lots of modules if you want to, or just take them off and have lots of friends on the back. So it depends on how you want to use it.

And that also entails that you only need one boat, right? You don’t need a boat for fishing, and one for water sport, and one for social events. So that’s great from that perspective.

But also if you look at the hull, so we can make the hull out of flax fibers. I mean, flax is a garment, right, of your summer suit, so we can make it out of flax fiber. We use a green epoxy that is 40% organic. We use PET, so basically the same material you have in recyclable bottles. We use that as distancing material. We use cork instead of teak.

So we try to strive towards having a fully sustainable boat. So that’s one thing. And also we make it — in terms of manufacturing — in a sustainable process. So we look at it from a very wide perspective in terms of sustainability. Also, I mean, we don’t emit any noise or CO2 when we’re out in the nature. So you have that as well, right?

But then I need to talk about software here because I —

Not just electric, but smart: X Shore’s software 

John Koetsier: I know, I know! I’m going to ask you about that because I’m excited about that, because, I mean, if you buy a Tesla — as you talked about, you bought a Tesla — then you buy some additional capability. It’s about the self-driving. It’s about the smarts of the car. It’s about sitting back and watching a movie on the big screen. What else is new that you’ve designed into the boat? 

Jenny Keisu: So basically the boat is always connected. 24/7 we’re downloading minimum 150 data points per second from each boat. Then we can also add additional sensors to download even more information about environment and water quality. So just in terms of how the boat acts, I mean, state of charge, whether the pumps are going, how much range you have left, where the boat is, etc. We download all of that all the time.

So we can, you can start your boat with a smartwatch or with your cell phone, or I can even start it remotely from here in Sweden if you want me to if you forgot your key, you know … you don’t have any battery on your watch and you just dropped your iPhone overboard.

And you also add a lot of safety to this. So this watch, for example, if/when I get close to the boat, it feels that I’m approaching and then it goes into standby mode. So I just push a button and then it starts, so very much like a modern car.

And if I fall overboard, God forbid, then the boat can feel that I’m overboard and it stops.

So there’s lots of safety, you know, added into this as well. So with my kids, we can put a similar kind of safety measures on their life jackets. So there’s lots of things you can do just because it’s connected. And then on top of that, I mean, we have autopilot, we have geo-fencing, so it’s basically impossible to steal the boat. There’s no outboard motor to take off. 

John Koetsier: You automatically turn it off if it leaves the geo-fence?

Jenny Keisu: Yeah, absolutely.

John Koetsier: Wow!

eelex 8000 electric boat by x shore

The Eelex 8000 electric boat has a top speed of 40 knots, or 65 km/hour.

Jenny Keisu: And we can always see where it is, right? So all of that is to say that the boat is really smart. It’s always connected. So you can interact with the boat in another way than you have been able to do before with boats in general. 

John Koetsier: And if I want to lend it to a friend or a family member or something like that, I can turn it on remotely for them? I can give them access, like give them a virtual key or something like that, correct? 

Jenny Keisu: Absolutely.

We have also customers that want to limit speed limits. Because, as you mentioned, I mean, 40 miles per hour is pretty fast on water, so if you are letting your kids borrowing your boat, maybe you don’t want them to play around too fast in some areas, and you can actually just in the software, maintain that.

John Koetsier: Nice. How does it sense that you fell overboard? Is that because your smartwatch is with you and it’s increasing range from the boat? 

Jenny Keisu: Yeah, so basically if this goes under water, even if I put my hand down under the surface, the boat thinks I’m below water and then it stops. Or if I’m, I think it’s 10 meters away from the boat, then it also automatically stops. And then you can put a similar system here on cell phones or fobs or something like that, you can put on other things as well. We’re currently looking into developing — we also have cameras on the boats, so you can also look into even if you have people on the boat that you don’t know — so they’re not connected to the boat — or bags or something like that, the boat can see if something falls off and then stop you to this, if you want it to.

John Koetsier: Wow. Wow. I’m a little bit fascinated by the modularity, because you do want to use boats for different things. Sometimes, maybe you want to tow somebody and they’re skiing behind you or they’re on some sort of water toy, right? Sometimes you want to just take out the family and we’re going to go out into the middle of the water and we’re just going to have a picnic, right? Or whatever. And sometimes you just want to get to where you’re going.

The modularity that you built in there, how extensive is that? 

eelex 8000 electric boat touchscreen

This massive touch screen on the Eelex 8000 wouldn’t look out of place in a Tesla Model 3.

Jenny Keisu:  I think you can have 15 different outfits of the boat, which is sort of water sports and then you have both wakeboarding and water skiing. It’s great for that actually, because the boat is quite heavy, so we have a wakeboard hook on it, for example. Then we have social settings, diving settings, etc. So I think it’s 15 different types that you can play around with.

And then one thing with getting back to the software, so since we update, since the boat is always connected, we do updates over the air. Entailing that even if you buy a boat now — so, for example, later this year we will come out with auto docking, which is a big thing if you are a boat owner, because it’s tricky to dock the boat sometimes, and that’s sort of a hassle that, especially if you come in and you have lots of people on the dock standing, you know, with drinks—

John Koetsier: [Laughter] Everybody’s looking. 

Jenny Keisu: [Crosstalk] So the auto docking feature I think will be very popular, and then we can just push it out over the air to current owners of the boat. So it’s always good to be able to do that also remotely. 

Electric boating: range anxiety?

John Koetsier: Wow. Very, very cool. I want Smart Summon so the boat can go wherever it stays and it comes to me wherever I am. What about range anxiety? I have an electric car, so I understand that to some degree. Is that a big deal? I mean, I assume you’ve driven the boat, you own a boat, you’re playing around with the boat. Talk to me about how that feels. 

Jenny Keisu: Well, so in short, you don’t have to have range anxiety, although you might be late if you play along too much. So basically, since you can go for a couple of hours at planing speed — I mean, that’s the normal use case for a boat, you use it once per day, you use it for a couple of hours, then you can even charge our boat in a normal electrical outlet the same way you charge your cell phone.

You can charge that overnight, then the boat will be fully charged. And then of course you can do, we also do supercharging, but you don’t have availability to supercharge wherever you are, so it’s great to always be able to charge it. So hence you can charge it everywhere and when you have a full battery, you can go for planing speeds in just over two hours.

And if you go at slower speeds, as I mentioned, you can go for more than 20 hours. So, and of course we have lots of software helping you to plan this and to see, ‘If I’m going at this speed, how far will I get? Will I get to my destination? Do I need to slow down?’

So the worst thing that can happen is that you’ll get late. 

And, of course, pricing …

John Koetsier: Very good, I hope so. Talk to me about pricing. Boats are crazy expensive. I was looking at boats with my son the other day and there’s a price tag — I’m in Vancouver, Canada — and I was just looking at some like little fishing boats or something like that, you know, here’s $40,000, there’s $50,000, there’s $80,000 — you get up expensive pretty quickly. What kind of price ranges are you in? 

Jenny Keisu: So our boat comes for $329,000 USD, but then it’s turn-key ready. So most of them, when you’re trying to buy a boat you’re like, ‘Oh, this sounds great. It’s kind of expensive, but that’s okay.’ And then you have to put the outboard on, you know, the drive train doesn’t come with the boat. So we have everything is included. So you have the boat ready to go, and then it comes at $329,000 USD. And then you can of course buy as many modules if you want more, but yes. 

John Koetsier: Sure, sure. So, not cheap, but I mean, marine engines aren’t cheap either. I’ve seen— 

Jenny Keisu: No. I would call it ‘affordable premium,’ if that makes sense. 

John Koetsier: Yes. Yes. And I guess you’re not burning gas every hour that you’re out on the water, which is also nice. 

Jenny Keisu: No, and that’s actually a big thing. So basically, a similar boat you would — I’m not sure exactly how much it costs to fuel up in the U.S. for example.

If you look here in Europe, a same-sized boat would cost you between $500 and $1000 to fuel up. And electricity, that’s like $10-$20 or something like that. And, you know, you don’t have any cost for service because you don’t have any filters that need to be changed. We do all our maintenance on a software level over the air. You don’t even notice it.

So, from that perspective, it doesn’t cost anything to own or to drive the boat, which I think is a big upside. But of course, as you mentioned, I mean, all boats are somewhat expensive, as a starting point. 

X Shore raised $17 million to build more EV boats

John Koetsier: Yes, no doubt about it. Now you raised some money. Tell me about that. 

Jenny Keisu: Well, so we’re seeing more demand than we can handle at the moment. So we have a factory in central Stockholm today. We can build around 40 boats out of that factory per year, and we see much, much, much more demand than that.

We recently launched in the USA at the Palm Beach International Boat Show, and we’re seeing already now that we cannot match that demand. So the reason why we’re raising capital is to put up our second factory. That would also be in Sweden for now. I think the third one might be in the U.S. So basically we’ve raised $17 million U.S., just north of that, in order to get our second factory up and running.

That should be fully up and running by the end of this year, and then we should be able to produce around 400 boats per year in that factory.

And we need to get that done, right, because we cannot meet demand at the moment. So we’re doing this as quickly as we can. 

John Koetsier: Now, when Elon Musk made the first Teslas, he had a strategy. And he was going to make some crazy-expensive supercar, and he was going to use that to fund the development of a car that more people could afford, and he was going to use that to fund the development of a car that almost everybody could afford. Do you have a similar strategy? 

Jenny Keisu: I think we will, in the marine industry, see a similar transition that has happened in the automotive industry. But also if you look at, you know, a Tesla is still fairly expensive. But you have also less-premium brands that you can get for much lower prices than that. I think we’ll see a similar transition over time here as well. We will see more and more electrical brands. There’s very few high-performance brands now, as I mentioned, and we’re clearly leading this field, but I’m sure that in five years or so, I mean, almost every new boat will be electric. 

John Koetsier: Yes.

Jenny Keisu: Although you own your boat longer, so, I mean, you will still have combustion engine boats out there for quite some time, but I mean the new ones will definitely be all electric in a few years’ time. Already now in Europe, you’re seeing Amsterdam will be fully fossil-free in 2025. 

So already today you cannot put a combustion engine boat in Amsterdam. Norway just came out a few weeks back that the Norwegian fjords will be fully fossil-free in 2026. And this is happening now, so lots of lakes and rivers in Europe, you’re banning combustion engines. And we’re seeing that there are actually cases in the U.S. where you’ve started to do this now as well.

So I think that this is a transition that will be speeding up now. I think we will see that it’s quite rapid actually. 

John Koetsier: That is very, very interesting. Wow. Well, it’s been great chatting with you, Jenny. Really do appreciate it. Very cool product. Very cool boat. Love to try it someday when we can travel again … and congratulations on your raise. 

Jenny Keisu: Thank you so much. As soon as you get out of lockup, I’ll promise you a test drive. No worries. 

John Koetsier: Excellent. Very good. Thank you.

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