Elon Musk alumni to make $300,000 electric boat

A team of former SpaceX engineers are entering the electric boat market. The company, Arc, is manufacturing a $300,000, 475-horsepower pleasure craft, according to Bloomberg.

The Los Angeles-based company plans to have its first model, a sleek speedboat called the Arc One, ready for sale by the end of 2021, after which the company intends to manufacture limited editions of the craft.

Chief executive officer Mitch Lee founded the Arc Boat Co. with his college friend Ryan Cook, who shares a passion for sustainability and nature. Cook and Lee both studied mechanical engineering and have been working together since Lee helped recruit Cook to Boeing Co.

According to Bloomberg, Cook spent seven years at Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. where he worked on the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. All of Arc’s employees except Lee have a background at SpaceX.

Lee says, “The amount of carryover between rocket-building and boat-building is actually surprisingly high.”

Backed by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital fund, the company has raised $4.25 million in seed funding, reports Bloomberg.

Arc wants to electrify boats “as quickly as possible, because that is good for the world,” continues Lee. “I’m solving a problem that I’ve felt myself very dearly, which is that being on a boat is so fun but owning a boat is so painful for so many reasons and it’s awful for the environment.”

The electric boat market remains small, with only some 15,000 vessels sold last year, according to Cambridge-based researcher IDTechEx, but is starting to take off as the technology improves, battery prices fall and consumers increasingly look for more sustainable options. IDTechEx expects the market for electric leisure boats to reach 70,000 shipments per year by the end of the decade and be worth $1.4 billion. Prices will have to come down further, Lee acknowledges, before boats sold by Arc and its peers become more than niche products for wealthy buyers, reports Bloomberg.

Luke Gear, an analyst at IDTechEx, says, “We’re really limited to wealthy enthusiasts who want to pay the extra money to go electric for peace of mind because they care about the environment, but there’s no one forcing anyone to do that. So naturally, you’re not going to see that and have the double-digit growth that’s coming from other sectors.”

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