General Motors, which this year called itself “all-in for electrification,” has acquired a 25% stake in Pure Watercraft, a Seattle start-up that makes electric outboard motors for boats, the companies CNBC said with.
Pure Watercraft engines use lithium-ion batteries, replacing 40 to 50 horsepower outboards that burn gas or diesel. Traditional fuel-powered boats contribute to environmental problems such as noise nuisance, smog and water pollution, which is clearly visible in their wake on the water. Pure’s systems are much quieter and cleaner.
For Andy Rebele, CEO of Pure Watercraft, a lifelong fishing and boating enthusiast and former rowing coach, a personal drive to solve these problems came with a tremendous market opportunity.
According to the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA), outboard motor sales in the United States hit record levels in 2020, rising to an estimated $ 3.4 billion for the ninth straight year.
“The boat market is growing like it hasn’t been since World War II,” says Rebele. “During the pandemic, people wanted to do something with their families, with their pods. Getting on the water is one of the ideal things.”
This growing market is also on GM’s radar. CEO Mary Barra hinted at GM’s interest in electric marine transportation in a blog post in October where she talked about the company’s Ultium battery and Hydrotec fuel cell platforms.
This pontoon is powered by a fully electric outboard motor from Pure Watercraft.
Courtesy: Pure Watercraft
According to Rebele, the deal with GM has a total value of $ 150 million, including commitments in kind and the capital invested by the auto giant. The company does not disclose the division between cash and non-cash benefits.
With its investment, GM will become a component supplier to Pure Watercraft, a co-developer of new products, and will provide engineering, design and manufacturing expertise to help the start-up build new factories, the companies told CNBC.
The new partnership with GM is set to help the startup tackle supply chain issues as Pure Watercraft grows, Rebele said.
For GM, the investment in Pure Watercraft is another step in a series of measures to expand its battery and fuel cell systems outside of the automotive sector. At the beginning of this year, GM announced plans to develop and market electric locomotives with Wabtec. It has also shown interest in using its batteries and fuel cells in aerospace and military applications.
Pure Watercraft’s post-money valuation is $ 600 million. The 55-employee start-up had previously raised $ 37 million in venture capital.
– CNBC’s Mike Wayland contributed to this report.