Eagerly awaited: Electric boats enjoy the highest attention everywhere – also in Finland. The first with an electric motor at the Finnboat Floating Show was – well before the pandemic years – the Q-Yachts Q30 lounge boat. Now that the showcase of Finnish boat builders was back for the first time, the question was: how electric will it be around Nauvo?
Axopar answered this question solo at the event around Midsummer: Because the rather young and otherwise fast in technical developments Finnish shipyard showed its electric first on domestic waters for the first time and was thus alone among burners. We had already seen the prototype of the Axopar 25 Electric with Evoy outboard at the Cannes Yachting Festival, and now came the acid test: in direct comparison with the latest conventionally powered boats in the Finnish boating industry.
It went on the long haul through the island world of the summer archipelago in the south of Finland. If only because the electric glider plugged in after every other leg and then stopped for three laps, the Axopar 25 Electric didn’t quite fit into the previous setup of the three-day test-drive event for the international boating press.
On the other hand: The dilemma duo of low range and long charging time is already familiar from electric cars. We don’t want to dwell on that. The more interesting question is: How is the e-boat doing overall?
Die Axopar 25 Electric ist ein Tagesboot mit Elektro-Außenborder von Evoy © Wildberg
Short answer: really good. It starts with the lack of a stable smell. The other brand-new Finnboat runabouts with internal combustion engines produce the usual exhaust scents, but the E-Axopar remains as neutral olfactorically as a freshly diapered baby. You just can’t smell a Stromer, which is really very pleasant.
Guttural instead of brute
But when you’re on the move, you can smell the Baltic Sea water drifting up, the seaweed in it, the nearby Finnish pine forest and, in the direction of the slip cabin, the discreet vapors of freshly baked laminate. Also to hear is: nothing. Except for the sound of the waves and even birdsong.
At least as long as we stroll out of the harbor with two knots of displacement and two kilowatt hours of power consumption per nautical mile. In creep speed, the Axopar thus consumes as much electricity for just under 18 kilometers as an average electric car traveling at 100 km per 100 km. This is also something we know quite well from the internal combustion engine.
If you push the drive lever forward, the brand-new Evoy 300+ becomes more and more audible. At full speed, it howls piercingly, barely quieter than an internal combustion engine. The water under our keel becomes more and more clingy:
At 7 knots, the transition to planing, which eats up a lot of energy, begins. The range drops to 30 nautical miles – assuming one would always continue like this. From 25 knots, the apex of the curve is reached: consumption increases only slightly, and the range remains relatively constant at 25 nautical miles.
Unter der Sitzbank für Passagiere befindet sich die Regelelektronik von Evoy © Wildberg
Die CCS-Steckdose im Heck ermöglicht das Schnellladen mit Gleichstrom © Wildberg
Der Ladestand vom 126 kWh großen Akku wird im Cockpit angezeigt © Wildberg
“Everyone always asks about range,” sighs Antti Lipsanen, product manager in charge at Axopar. Of course, this is only one side of the coin. The other is: no exhaust muffler, and that with brute acceleration. The open Axopar 25 Electric can easily keep up with the combustion engines. And if you’re up for some real speed, the electric outboard can push you up to 51 knots.
The Evoy outboard’s responsiveness is amazingly similar to that of a comparable Yamaha or Mercury V6 engine. The blow to the back with subsequent take-off also feels similarly violent as with the combustion engine.
After ten minutes, the control is switched off
However, the high-speed flight is short-lived: “Maximum speed is reduced after ten minutes at the latest,” says Antti Lipsanen, dampening the expectations of the journalist crew on board. This electronic motor management intervention, familiar from early high-voltage installations not only from Torqeedo, has a life-extending purpose. The battery must not heat up too much. This aspect also slows down the momentum of electric car drivers. After a few cavalier starts, the battery management even downgrades the forward momentum of a Tesla S or Porsche Taycan. Simply so that the crew doesn’t get too hot under the butt.
Auf bis zu 51 Knoten beschleunigt der Elektro-Außenborder die Axopar © Wildberg
Full fuel isn’t sensible either: When driving permanently at the limit, the battery would be drained after 15 to 20 minutes. The fast luck just lasts for a short time. What already works well in other market segments – such as ferries, slow displacement boats, foilers and catamarans – is currently still difficult for really fast boats on a hull due to the system. This has already been demonstrated by float tests with electric boats such as the Swedish Eelex 8000 and others.
However, the Axopar 25 Electric is a prototype that still has a lot of development potential. Be it battery technology, lightweight construction, engine development. Even if it is still a good cable length until everyday use.
Axopar has a stake in Evoy
In any case, Axopar is serious. The shipyard has already secured access to the important technology. It was recently announced that the Scandinavian boat builder has acquired a ten percent stake in Evoy via a financial injection of 6.4 million euros. “We see electrification as a future task for the industry, and Axopar is at the forefront of this,” said company founder Jan-Erik Viitala at the first presentation of the Boat 2022 at the Cannes Yachting Festival.
Der neue Elektro-Außenborder 300+ von Evoy gleicht Verbrenner-Motoren aufs Haar © Wildberg
And the boat turned result we are on right now fits well with this claim. It’s a weighty first step for Axopar. And that in the double sense of the word: Two batteries from the Austrian company Kreisel with a combined capacity of 126 kWh weigh 800 kilograms.
Admittedly, a heavy mortgage for any naval designer. On the other hand, the shipyard was able to save 111 kilograms, or almost 20 percent of the net boat weight, on the prototype through lightweight construction.
What exactly was saved? Well, that’s top secret! Axopar is not letting itself be seen in the cards here. But one part, Antti may say, succeeded by the new CE classification of the boat. The Axopar 25 is now only certified to category C, i.e. for nearshore waters. Of course, you can’t tell by looking at her.
Anyone looking over at the Axopar 25 Electric from aboard another boat might mistake the Stromerin for a perfectly normal day boat. The silhouette has not been changed, the thick hat of the Evoy engine resembles conventional outboard engines.