Dave Foulkes, CEO of Brunswick Corporation, unveiling the Mercury Avator outboard at CES / Photo- Craig Ritchie
New electric outboards, boat line launched at CES are just the beginning, say Brunswick execs
Brunswick Corporation raised a lot of eyebrows last week at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) when the company officially launched its all-new Mercury Avator electric motor line and its all-new Veer brand of boats designed expressly for electric propulsion.
The fact Brunswick chose a technology event rather than a boat show to unveil its latest products speaks volumes about exactly how it envisions its future, and the extent to which technology will drive future product development.
The highlight of the company’s CES display – and the press conference it hosted for a large contingent of international media the day before the show opened – was the much anticipated Avator 7.5e electric outboard, the full production version of a concept mockup which was previewed at the 2022 Miami International Boat Show.
Mercury Marine president Chris Drees says the Avator 7.5e is just the first model in the company’s new electric outboard line, with additional motors scheduled to be released this year.
“We’re officially introducing the Avator 7.5e today,” said Drees, speaking at CES. “We also have the Avator 20e and 35e models in our CES display booth, and they’ll be released later this month. Consumers will have the chance to see all three of the new motors first at the Düsseldorf boat show in Europe, and at the Miami International Boat Show here in North America.”
Details on the larger 20e and 35e models are scheduled to be announced shortly, he added. “We’re actually going to have five models released for the end of this year,” he noted. “For the first models, shipping to dealers will begin in the first half of the year.”
Intended to power smaller vessels like tenders, jon boats, inflatables and kayaks, the Avator 7.5e outboard generates 750 watts of power at the propshaft, allowing it to produce similar speed and acceleration as a Mercury 3.5 horsepower four-stroke outboard.
The Avator 7.5e will be offered in a choice of either tiller or remote steering variants, with assembly taking place at Brunswick’s Juarez, Mexico production plant.
“That’s where we build wiring harnesses and other electrical components,” said Drees. “So it makes sense to perform the final assembly there, where we have a great deal of electrical expertise.”
The Avator is powered by a user-removable, 48-volt, 1 kWh battery that was developed by Brunswick’s MasterVolt business unit. The battery is designed to be easily swapped on the fly. “People will most likely have two batteries,” said Drees. “You can just go to a bigger battery, but of course the larger it is the heavier it gets, and this motor is designed for use on smaller boats. So the batteries are easily interchangeable – it’s plug and play, you just slip one out and pop the other one back in. Then one battery can charge while the other is in use. They’re very easy to switch out and are quite manageable in terms of size and weight.”
Complementing the new Mercury motor lineup was the formal launch of Veer Boats, Brunswick’s all-new boat brand designed with its Avator electric propulsion platform in mind.
Created with design input from Brunswick’s Lund Boats engineering team, Veer debuted at CES with its X13 model – a 13-foot skiff with a 48-inch beam, a raised bow casting deck, in-floor storage and a tough, durable rotomolded polyethylene hull.
“Polyethylene is extremely durable, and it allows us to have a lot of really cool features, the coolest of which is that it’s affordable – because a lot of electric product is not,” quipped Brunswick CEO, David Foulkes. “We need to make electric boating affordable, in order for it to be sustainable and commercially viable. The Veer X13 starts at US$11,995, it is extremely low maintenance, and it is easily towable with a compact car.”
Brunswick Boat Group president Aine Denari says the Veer X13 represents a new line of boats designed to appeal to a younger, more diverse buyer. “The Veer brand will target a different buyer than that served by our existing fishing boats,” she said. “It really is a cross-collaboration between our fishing experts at Lund, our fibreglass tech centre in Florida, and Mercury on the propulsion side.”
Denari says that while the rotomolded construction will keep the boat’s price down in a bid to maintain affordability, the construction is surprisingly complex. “Because of the way it’s constructed all the internal structures need to be built into the mold,” she explains. “So production is different. This isn’t the top-end for size, we can go larger for sure. But you’re not going to see a 37-footer or anything like that. Veer is intended to be a simple, low maintenance fishing boat you can carry in the back of a pickup truck then drag down the beach and go fish riverbeds and shallow water without worrying about marring the finish.”
While Denari was coy about details on the potential for additional models to join the Veer lineup, Brunswick’s marketing materials suggest that could be the case – and possibly tied to future Avator electric outboard launches.