BMW has partnered with Torqueedo to supply electric boats with the latest i3 battery pack.
German boat manufacturer Torqueedo has confirmed that it is producing electric boats with batteries from BMW’s i3 vehicle. The 2017 i3 battery has been specifically adapted to work with Torqueedo’s Deep Blue 80i electric boat inboard powertrain. The advertised powertrain, costing approximately £17,000, is part of a fully integrated propulsion system that includes an 80-HP electric motor capable of 1,400 rpm.
According to Torqueedo’s website, the Deep Blue system currently uses a high-voltage battery, from Johnson Controls, running alongside an additional 12V battery which has been designed to start up the main power cell. However, it seems that customers are also able to purchase a stand-alone version of the i3 battery, rated for the boat at 30.5 kWh, which they can presumably use to replace the Johnson Controls system.
The latest system will take the i3’s 33 kWh lithium-ion battery, using it to support greater horsepower capabilities (up to 160HP), and apply it to the Deep Blue powertrain. Torqueedo claims that the i3 battery offers 40% higher energy density and cheaper running costs for the user. Such a battery would offer a car a range of up to 114 miles on the road, although any boat’s range would be much more dependent on speed and resistance.
There is no definitive answer on how much the updated powertrain will cost, or when exactly it will be openly available. Considering that the 30.5 kWh battery costs over £24,000, by itself, the news that the i3 cell will become part of the actual powertrain is positive for consumers.
Torqueedo does confirm that the i3 battery has been made fully workable in several different types of boats, including motor boats, sailing yachts, and commercial marine vehicles such as water taxis. This process includes the management of battery cooling systems, waterproofing, and shock damping. A company statement also praises the i3 battery for its robust qualities and high resistance to shock.
Head of Product Management BMWi, Dr Alexander Kotouc, elaborated: “This successful transfer of the latest automotive technology to the water is testament to the value of the integrated approach that underpins BMW i.” The ‘integrated approach’ refers to the variable-use nature of the battery system, which has already been re-appropriated for stationary energy storage in homes and on/off-grid systems.
While some may be sceptical of a completely electric boat, Torqueedo also offers a Deep Blue hybrid system which utilises a battery pack alongside clean power generation from solar modules and hydro-generation. ElecTrans recently reported on another hybrid venture, this time from Toyota, suggesting that marine systems could well become an additional source of revenue for automakers and automotive battery manufacturers in the future.
Certainly, the development of multi-purpose battery and powertrain systems makes both economic and environmental sense.