Sail Tomorrow with Evoy’s Electric Boats Navigating Market Trends

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From the InsightTech podcast episode, Leif and Statzon cover key areas of the electric boat industry, focusing on Evoy's growth and challenges. 

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Evoy and Electric Boat Market Trends

In this episode, we will cover the following topics: 

  • Evoy's growth 
  • Challenges faced by the company 
  • Electric boat market trends 
  • Electric boat battery and technological advancements 
  • Competitive landscapes 
  • Potential of hydrogen in maritime industry

Leif A. Stavøstrand, CEO & Co-founder at Evoy 

Leif A. Stavøstrand worked his way up in the maritime industry, eventually becoming a sea captain. He rose to the position of CEO at Saga Fjordbase, Norway's largest oil supply base. Despite industry challenges, he kickstarted the "Green & Lean Base" initiative, which aims to reduce large amounts of greenhouse gases directly and indirectly—a successful project that is still ongoing.  In 2018, Leif co-founded Evoy which creates electric power trains that can be seamlessly integrated into any boat, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional propulsion systems. 

Statzon: Globally, the market for electric boats reached $5.1 billion in 2022, with Europe leading the charge, comprising about 35% of the total market, according to data from Future Market Research Company. Particularly, Nordic countries like Norway, where Evoy is based, are at the forefront of the advancement of electric boats. So when did Evoy begin its journey, and could you share how you found your way there? 

Leif: During my sailor training, I completed a year of electrical training, which sparked my interest. Boating has always been my main hobby, and I've owned around 15 boats throughout my life. My father, who shares my passion for the ocean, is an entrepreneur and inventor. 

In the mid-2000s, during one of our whiskey workshop nights, we designed an electric boat. However, we found no off-the-shelf systems with the high output we desired, leading us to venture into the market. 

We followed the market until 2018, and to our surprise, nobody had really seized this high output opportunity that, from our point of view, seemed quite obvious to pursue. So, I jumped from my career as a CEO of a larger company in my hometown, and we started Evoy. 


Statzon: How is Evoy doing since starting in 2018? Are you primarily operating in Norway, or expanding to other regions?  

Leif: I believe we're in a healthy position. Currently, we have around 50 employees and sell to 20 countries. There's a growing interest in going electric, especially as we showcase boats equipped with our systems on the water, attracting interesting leads worldwide. Our main focus is currently on Europe, where we have most of our sales and follow-ups. However, we've also made sales in Asia and North America. Interestingly, half of our website traffic comes from the US, indicating significant interest, particularly in lake areas. The US market will be crucial for us moving forward. It's important to note that most of our customers thus far have been commercial, including fish farming, tourism, and port and harbor power companies. This segment will likely remain our main focus for the next few years, while the recreational boating market continues to develop. 

Statzon: What challenges have you faced since starting, compared to what you initially expected? 

Leif: Anyone who's been an entrepreneur or started a company knows that there are countless challenges along the way. To summarize, I think it revolves around three main areas. Firstly, there's the challenge of getting the technology to work as intended. There are always unexpected snags, suppliers not delivering as expected, and so on. Secondly, there's the issue of recruitment and competence. Even with the best intentions and knowledge, it's easy to miss the mark when hiring. In recent years, it's been particularly challenging due to low unemployment rates in Europe and North America. Lastly, but certainly not least, access to capital is critical for a startup like Evoy. Achieving profitability takes time, and during that period, support from good investors is essential to propel the company forward. 

Free electric boat market data

Statzon: Considering the electric market is still evolving, how does the charging infrastructure impact your operations? Where do you charge, and is the infrastructure in place? 

Leif: Charging is crucial for us. Since most of our customer base is commercial, they often invest in their own infrastructure rather than relying on coastal charging networks. Many of these customers have fixed routes, visiting locations like fish bins daily and charging overnight at their base. 

However, to expand into the recreational market and enable longer boat trips, infrastructure is vital. We currently have partners like Plug, a Norwegian company, and Aqua SuperPower from the UK, who are developing these facilities. The Mediterranean region already has extensive coverage, and many lakes in Europe are getting superchargers. Plans are in place to install more along the Norwegian and Swedish coasts next year, facilitating supercharged travel between major cities. 

But for us, I don't actually feel like the infrastructure is a huge barrier today. However, it's important to keep up the pace to make it more comfortable for those recreational boaters who are considering going electric. 

Statzon: Regarding the batteries, are they the same as those used in electric vehicles? 

Leif: So, since we started nearly six years ago, there has been incredible development from our perspective. When we began, specialized batteries with high discharge and charge rates were necessary, but they were heavy and expensive. However, in the past year or two, some battery packers and producers have successfully integrated these technologies. Now, you can obtain both low weight and high energy density batteries, along with relatively high discharge and charge rates. This advancement is now benefiting the boating industry, paving the way for electric boat adoption. We are at a tipping point where batteries are becoming feasible for electric boats. Going forward, electric boats can increasingly utilize the same type of batteries traditionally used in the electric car industry, which will reduce costs and increase range in the coming years. 

Statzon: Given past doubts about electric cars, what's the perception of electric boats now? Are skeptics still prevalent, or has acceptance increased? Skeptics worry about range, similar to debates over electric cars versus ICE vehicles. Electric cars typically reach 500 kilometers, while ICE cars exceed 1000 kilometers. Can we make a similar comparison for electric boats? 

Leif: There's a lot happening in the EV space. Chinese electric cars are now surpassing the 1000 kilometer barrier, while some ICE vehicles don't go beyond 700 or 800 kilometers. We now have electric cars with longer ranges than some internal combustion engines on the market. This indicates a clear trend toward maturity, which many customers are recognizing. Norway boasts the highest electric car adoption rate globally, with 80 to 90% of sales being electric. There are valuable lessons to be learned from this process, which other countries may need to pay attention. 

For example, Tesla hasn't opted to build ever-larger batteries but has instead found a sweet spot where they know the range is adequate with the right infrastructure in place. Similarly, in the boating industry, we need to find the optimal battery size. Once you reach a range of 500 to 600 kilometers, it's sufficient for most people. I believe it will be slightly larger than in cars, which have stabilized between 70 to 80 kilowatt hours. Boat batteries will likely stabilize between 100 and 120 kilowatt hours, covering the range most people need. While there are many developments in this area, I don't believe range is the sole deciding factor for the widespread adoption of electrified mobility. Once you reach a range of 500 to 600 kilometers, it's sufficient for most people. 

Free electric boat market data

“It's more a trust thing that needs to be built over time, and the only thing that really helps is time .” 
- Leif A. Stavøstrand 

Statzon: Let's talk about the competitive landscape in the emerging electric boat industry. How do you see the competition, and who are Evoy’s main competitors? 

Leif: It's an interesting landscape. When we started in 2018, there weren't any clear competitors. We could consider ourselves the global first mover in high output electric boats. While there are many startups entering the electrification space, we are the only one delivering to customers at a high pace in our segment. Although we don't have direct competitors yet, we see numerous startups emerging. This competition is beneficial as it indicates a growing market, ensuring there's enough space for all players.  

Statzon: Looking forward, do you expect any specific technological advancements in the next year or two? 

Leif: Yeah, there are a few things that come to mind. Firstly, the continuous development of battery technology will be crucial. I believe there won't be one winning technology, but rather a gradual improvement in batteries over time. Based on conversations with about 150 different battery suppliers, it seems the battery market is maturing, similar to other tech industries like cell phones or computers. They're constantly improving batteries in their labs, releasing upgrades gradually due to financial considerations. 

Secondly, the concept of vehicle-to-grid (V2G), vehicle-to-load (V2L), and vehicle-to-house (V2H) technologies is intriguing. We'll soon be showcasing V2G capabilities, demonstrating its technical feasibility. This opens up possibilities like using your electric boat for peak shaving smart charging or earning money by supplying energy back to the grid during peak demand. Some companies are even willing to offset battery costs to use your batteries for grid balancing. This space promises to be highly interesting in the coming years. 

Statzon: What industry-wide trends are you currently observing or anticipating for the upcoming year? 

Leif: We're in dialogue with over 300 boat builders worldwide. One clear trend we've noticed is that many of them are working to make boats more efficient. This isn't just because of electrification but also due to the significant increase in energy prices in recent years. High fuel costs have become a major concern for boat buyers. By making hulls more efficient through methods like weight reduction or incorporating foils, they can significantly reduce the boat's energy consumption. This reduction not only benefits traditional gasoline or diesel boats but also enhances the range of electric boats. Overall, it's a very positive trend for the electric boat industry. 

The trend toward enhanced boat efficiency signifies a positive trajectory for the electric boat industry, indicating a shift towards sustainable and cost-effective solutions. 

Statzon: In our previous discussions on electric vehicles in earlier episodes, we debated batteries versus hydrogen. While batteries may not be ideal for personal cars due to cost and challenges, they could be a solution for heavier vehicles. How do you see this dynamic applying to the maritime industry? Will boats potentially adopt hydrogen over batteries, or will larger ships benefit more from hydrogen technology? 

Leif: If you're building a hydrogen boat, then you need 100% of the Evoy system. We are somewhat technology-agnostic in this regard; we can connect to range extenders using gasoline, diesel, biofuel, or ammonia. However, for propulsion through water, you still need 100% of the Evoy system. We are well-positioned to adapt to whatever emerges as the energy carrier in the future. However, hydrogen faces significant obstacles, particularly regarding infrastructure. This poses challenges for small boats and vessels. While hydrogen may have a role as a range extender for larger vessels, such as those over 15 meters, it might not be the optimal choice for recreational boating. Ammonia and hydrogen could find a niche in the market, particularly for larger vessels. However, I'm skeptical that hydrogen will prevail in recreational boating. 


Free electric boat market data

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