VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – For recreational boating, it’s a sea change with an eye on climate change. A sustainable electric boat that can go from zero to 20 knots in just over four seconds now exists and is hitting the water in Hampton Roads.
The key features of the X Shore Eelex 8000 revolve around innovation, conservation and acceleration. 10 On Your Side got a recent demonstration along Lynnhaven Inlet and Broad Bay.
“There’s no sound, there’s no fumes, and there’s no vibration,” said X Shore’s Mike Provost. “Sustainability is a pillar of the company.”
We were running at 30 knots across Broad Bay, and according to Provost, it’s much faster than previous electric boats.
“Typical (electric) models that folks are familiar with, their top end is five knots. This boat can go over 30 knots.”
But speed is just skimming the surface of the boat’s features.
The deck has a rail system that enables modular placement of tables, sofas and gear. The deck and the gun rails are made of sustainable cork.
X Shore builds them in Sweden in a factory south of Stockholm.
“It’s built for Scandinavian waters which are notoriously choppy and cold, which frankly is not that dissimilar from the Chesapeake Bay in the winter,” Provost said.
Hampton Roads will be the regional sales hub as the company tries to establish a beachhead in the US. Until now, the primary markets have been Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.
The ideal boater is someone who’s environmentally conscious and wants to deep-six the maintenance of a gas engine.
“(With a gas-powered boat) you have fuel expenses, you have fuel filter changes, oil changes, and routine hourly maintenance that you have to keep up with. With this boat you have none of that,” Provost said.
But the X Shore isn’t for everyone.
“It’s a day-boater. If you want to go out to the canyon and do some deep sea off-shore fishing, this is not really a good boat for you,” said Provost.
A full charge will last about 100 nautical miles and cost about $13 at current rates from Dominion Power. It can charge overnight anywhere there’s shore power, but much faster charging could be the next wave. X Shore is working with Aqua superPower to set up a fast-charging network in the next couple years.
Aqua’s Vice President of Business development Scott Canning described the plan for a loop of stations that would service Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. “In a real-life usage you’re probably coming in from a morning’s boating with 30% left, 40% left. You plug in for a half-hour or 40 minutes and you’ve got enough energy in your battery to enjoy the rest of the day.”
R.J. Degrandcourt is anchored to his gas-powered boat, but also intrigued. “I did see it at the boat show, and then he was here a couple days ago and I took a look at it,” he said.
Ashley Welton and Mike Gnilka do a lot of commercial fishing for their seafood market at the Oceanfront, but like the idea for running around closer to shore.
“I’d love to see electric boats,” Gnilka said. “I’d love to see other options out there available for the consumer.”
With it’s emphasis on tech and sustainability, it’s no wonder that some have called the X Shore the ‘Tesla of the Sea.’
“It sure did look like it. It’s a good lookin’ boat and we were (checking it out) when y’all were coming in,” Welton said.
For now, X Shore has one base model that starts at $320,000, plus options for sofas, custom colors and additional tech. And just like the electric car market several years ago, the electric boat market is looking for early adopters. X Shore says two-thirds of the recreational boating market is right here in the US.
You can follow Provost’s journey with the Eelex 8000 on Instagram at @captain_mike_vb.