Zodiac Nautic Avon eJET
Launched at last year’s Cannes Yachting Festival and recently shown at the Miami Boat Show, the Avon eJET, a fully electric jet tender, has started to make an impact in the world of silent powerboating. Working with Bavarian-based Torqeedo, Avon have the perfect partner for the eJET concept. Torqeedo are market leaders in the world of electric propulsion, having already established a range of electric outboards up to 80hp (60kw). I tested the 80hp Torqeedo Deep Blue 80 a few years back and can attest to its silent but punchy power delivery. The same Deep Blue electric motor that powered this outboard is now used in the eJET’s 80hp jet drive.
Electric motors have a totally flat power delivery, so at 1rpm the Torqeedo engine should produce the same amount of torque as it does at its maximum of 7500rpm. However, in reality this is different, as Torqeedo have a power-limiting system on their outboard motor that effectively controls and feeds in the torque as engine speed increases. Otherwise the huge amount of bottom-end grunt that the motor puts out would soon destroy the bevel gears in an outboard transmission, not to mention cavitation issues. A jet drive engine, though, using a different form of transmission, will still need a similar system of electrical power control.
Battery capacity is the biggest issue with electric propulsion. The eJET uses the same latest-generation 32kWh lithium battery as used in BMW’s i3 car, which is slightly more powerful than the 28.4kWh battery that fed the Deep Blue outboard motor that I tested in 2013. The eJET battery will no doubt be lighter and recharge faster, but to put this technology into some perspective, the 28.4kWH battery took 3 hours to fully recharge, lasted 2 hours at half power (30 minutes at full power) and weighed 290kg. This battery was 40in long and, being built to run along the keel line under the deck, 12in high. Carrying all this extra weight does have a performance penalty. The cost of the battery is such that Torqeedo offer finance to buy the battery for the Deep Blue, with a not unrealistic marketing pitch that you are buying all your fuel in advance. The batteries are warrantied for 10 years.
It has been stated that the eJET has a ‘90-minute range in normal use and a top speed of 26 knots’ – thanks to new hull technology. This sounds totally plausible, and given that this boat is built as a small superyacht tender, it should always be able to get a recharge from the mother ship. Avon have stated that the eJET concept has performed admirably in testing, both in terms of performance and reliability, leading Avon and Torqeedo to further collaborate on a commercial range of eJETs that will be available this year.
eJETs have ‘connected capabilities’, allowing them to be maintained and upgraded directly through the Internet. This enables users to track their eJET’s location in real time, save their trips for future navigation, turn on the lights and control battery levels – all from a smartphone.
True to their luxury background, Avon eJETs feature carbon-textured Hypalon fabric, upholstery by Serge Ferrari with a quilted finish sewn by hand, and leather-wrapped handles. The range will be entirely customisable upon request.
With the price still to be confirmed, it will be available in 2019.