Electric jetski maker Taiga taking off with $100M investment

Taiga jetski

A Canadian-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) has announced a proposed merger transaction with electric snowmobile and electric jetski maker Taiga of Montreal.

The SPAC, Canaccord Genuity Growth III Corp., also announced a $100 million private placement “to fund Taiga’s growth strategy, working capital and general corporate purposes along with remaining funds from CGGZ’s $102 million of escrowed funds.”

For those who are interested in (and understand!) the details of the transactions, you can read the full News Release on Canadian newswire service CISION.

electric jetski in Toronto harbourWhatever way you slice it, though, this is an enormous confirmation that electric is the future of mobility – and not just for electric cars, but also recreational items like the snowmobiles and personal watercraft that Taiga is pioneering.

The electric Orca PWC’s were introduced to the world in September of 2019 with an exhilarating demonstration in  Toronto harbour. While Nikola and long time snowmobile and jetski maker SkiDoo had teased electric jetskis at trade shows earlier in the year, Taiga actually had someone riding one in real life with real speed.

Electric jetski maker holds a significant advantage

Obviously Canaccord Genuity took note. Michael Shuh, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canaccord Genuity Growth II Corp. said “We are confident that the Taiga team is positioned to take early leadership in this segment and has demonstrated a clear path for growth. We look forward to supporting the Taiga team as they begin their journey as a public company.”

They also noted that “Taiga Management believes that Taiga holds a significant advantage over other potential all-electric powersports manufacturers based on an estimated minimum three-year research and development time frame to design, pilot, validate and move to mass production of electric powersports vehicles.”

Taiga foundersTaiga was founded by a trio of students at Montreal’s McGill University who worked on the school’s electric car racing teams. Even before graduation, Paul Achard, Gabriel Bernatchez, and Sam Bruneau were working on an electric snowmobile, seeing the potential in a frosty land that the International Snowmobiling Association says made up more than a third of all worldwide sales in 2020: 43,000 out of 123,000.

Once Taiga proved the viability of the snow ‘sleds’, it was fairly straightforward to adapt the battery system and drive train technology to an electric waterbike.  The company’s first offering in the Orca line was a special limited edition version – which quickly sold out – and last July two other models were offered, starting at a very reasonable $15,000.

The company is now ready to move into an entirely new phase of production. An obviously pleased Sam Bruneau, the CEO of Taiga, said about this new financing: “We plan to accelerate our existing production capabilities and execute on our pre-orders while moving full speed ahead with plans for a second, mass-production facility, which will significantly increase our capacity by 2025.”

Taiga currently operates in a 50,000 square foot R&D assembly facility in Montréal, which is estimated to ramp-up production capacity to 2,000 vehicles per year by the second half of 2021. Taiga also has plans to build an approximately 340,000 square foot mass-production assembly facility over the coming years.

Big investments in Quebec electric marine propulsion

This is the second big money story in electric boats and watercraft in Canada’s province of Quebec in just a few months. In November the company formerly known as the Canadian Electric Boat Company went public on the NASDAQ Exchange in a process that netted the company $27 million dollars for increased production and to expand into producing their own e-boat drive train system.

Quebec has a multi-pronged $7 billion electrification strategy and is a natural to be a leader in the field. The province’s utility, Hydro Quebec, is the world’s 4th largest generator of hydroelectricity and supplies not only all of its own needs, but also about 10% of the power used in the New England.

The company’s research arm was one of the first organizations to work on true lithium batteries in 1979, and it worked with Prof. John Goodenough, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery,  to commercialize the LiFePo4 battery in 1996. They are currently working on a solid state battery technology with Goodenough and also on another battery project with Mercedes Benz.

To date, 760+ local and international dealers have applied to carry Taiga’s products, and more than 200 commercial fleet operators have submitted applications to Taiga’s fleet program. The company has received over 1,400 snowmobile and personal watercraft pre-orders.

Pride Marine Group brings Frauscher boats to Canada

Frauscher GT 1017 boat

Frauscher Boats of Austria and Pride Marine Group are excited to make their legendary boats available in Ontario and Eastern Canada. A Frauscher 858 Fantom and a 1017 GT are going to be available for test rides this summer!

From the Frauscher website:

Pride Marine Group has decided that Frauscher boats will complement the existing boat brand portfolio and fill a gap in the market for ultra luxury boats. The Frauscher shipyard demonstrated that they are willing to carve the wave for the future of boating by introducing new innovations, revolutionary technology while honouring a state of the art design that turns heads. Both companies are family owned and operated, which creates a personal touch and special relationship with their boat owners.

Paul Nickel, Pride Marine:
Our companies align by both being family owned and operated, providing high quality – unique and well-crafted boats – and always seeking to offer innovative and bespoke solutions for boaters in Ontario, Canada. Here we are met by the unique boats from Frauscher.

Stefan Frauscher, Frauscher shipyard:
We are very much looking forward to be working with Pride. Being positioned in the top segment, we are constantly challenged with a high level of expectations and request from our clients. In this respect, Paul Nickel has turned out to be an ideal representative for Frauscher. Him and his team are market experts and have always being able to adapt to outperform the industry.

The Frauscher shipyard has a vision of engineering emotions, Pride Marine Group has a vision of creating personalized watercraft experiences. Together both of their visions are accomplished.

Pride Marine Group is a family owned and operated business. They are Canada’s largest marine dealer. Offering a large variety of exclusive boat brands across Ontario and Eastern Canada, Pride Marine Group is able to provide a high quality selection of boats in the most desired cottage and boating destinations available. Being family run, they bring a personal touch to sales & service, and are passionate about creating an unforgettable boat ownership experience for each customer.


Montreal waterways to get 15 Vision Marine electric boats

Vision Marine cruising boat

Transport Canada and Tourism Quebec have announced an agreement to have up to 15 Vision Marine electric boats available for rent on a waterways system near Montreal known  as the Haut-Richelieu (high Richelieu) project.

Vision Marine Technologies (VMT), based in Montreal, has been on a roll since its new NASDAQ listing and $27M Initial Public Offering in November. Formerly known as the Canadian Electric Boat Company, Vision Marine is now  expanding into producing electric outboard powertrains in addition to its current range of 5 e-boat models.

The company is also involved in a range of electric boat rental outlets – on both coasts of the US, in Hawaii, Bermuda, Australia, the UK and Portugal. Montreal also has an existing rental operation, launched in 2018 on the Route de Champlain water system.

Electric boats for north and south of Île de Montréal

hot air balloons

La Route de Champlain is on the Prairies River on the northern side of the Isle de Montreal, a designated tourist site that closely follows the water routes of explorer Samuel de Champlain, who founded New France in 1608. The new Vision Marine electric boats will ply the waters of the Richelieu River, south of the island, that run north-south down to the US border and into Vermont.

VMT will provide up to 15 electric boats for rental and water taxis along the 30 km section of the river from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to Noyan. Production is underway to prepare for the first boats to be launched this spring.

The circuit will include 15 stopovers in a very ecofriendly tourism area that is especially popular with cyclists. Every August since 1984 the area also buzzes with an international festival of hot air balloons, the 2019 edition hosting over 60 teams from as far away as Arizona, Florida and Brazil.

Christian Desautels, General Manager of the Haut-Richelieu project, stated, “This unique operation will provide excellent nautical lookouts at strategic locations on the Richelieu, and our goal is to make the waterways accessible for everyone to enjoy the area to the utmost.”

Vision Marine electric boats making new history

Bruce 22 electric boatWith a full fleet of 15 Vision Marine boats the Haut-Richelieu would be the largest electric boat operation in Canada. “We are excited to be the main provider of fully electric power boats to the province of Quebec and this project, ” said Alex Mongeon, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Vision. “and we look forward to developing a strong partnership  across the country with Transport Canada.”

Like all waterway authorities, Transport Canada is closely watching and responding to the rapid changes in electric boating. In August they approved the first lithium-ion passenger boat carrying more than 25 passengers – a refitted tour boat now set up for going deep sea fishing in the Atlantic waters off Halifax.

Vision Marine, for its part, continues to make news as it expands and refines its operations for production of its E-Motion electric outboard powertrain. The system combines battery pack, inverter, and high efficiency motor with proprietary union assembly between the transmission and the electric motor design.

Boat Fix supplying telematics for new VMT boats
Just last week the company announced that they will be working with telematics leader Boat Fix, who will deliver a custom, white-labeled telematics solution to be included with all model year 2021 electric boats. The hardware, software and accompanying app can monitor each VMT motor and vessel and back it up with 24/7 customer support and services.

Boat Fix Founder Alastair Crawford said “One of the unique challenges of electric propulsion is the charge remaining in the battery is dependent on speed and therefore, unlike a fuel gauge, it is hard to know how much range you have left. In addition to providing our standard vessel monitoring, we have created a solution that will make sure users have the runtime to get where they’re going so they can enjoy the quiet and serenity of an electric boat.”