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.”

Electric boat company IPO raises over $27 million

Vision Marine Technologies electric boat

Vision Marine Technologies, formerly the Canadian Electric Boat Company, today announced the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 2,760,000 common shares at a price of US$10.00 per share, which includes 360,000 shares sold upon full exercise of the underwriter’s option to purchase additional common shares.

The gross proceeds from the offering, including the exercise of the over-allotment option, were US$27,600,000, before deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and offering expenses.

The electric boat company was founded in 2012 in Quebec, Canada and has built and offered a variety of electric boats since then, ranging from the classic cruising style Fantail to the Volt 180 and Phoenix 290. They are also involved with a number of electric boat rental companies.

The name Vision Marine Technologies reflects their plan to move beyond ‘just boats. and be a technology company at the forefront of the electric marine propulsion market in every aspect.

Vision Marine developing new electric powertrain

Visin Marine prototype electric outboardThe Volt 180 hit a speed of 30mph (48kmh / 26 kts) to set a record for the electric boat competition in the famed Lake of the Ozarks Shootout races in August last year. The Phoenix, a 19 foot, ten passenger open boat, was introduced at the Miami Boat Show back in February (remember February !) at the 2020 Miami Boat Show.

Both of the high speed boats have been powered by Torqeedo Deep Blue outboards, and the company also uses motors from Piktronik, ePropulsion, E-tech and Minn-Kota – but in the prospectus for the IPO Vision Marine outlined plans for its own electric outboard powertrain, the E-motion:

that combines an advanced battery pack, inverter, and high efficiency motor with proprietary union assembly between the transmission and the electric motor design and extensive control software. Our E-Motion technologies used in this powertrain system are designed to improve the efficiency of the outboard powertrain and, as a result, increase range and performance

The first of the E-motion electric outboard systems will have a peak power of 135kW / 180 HP and continuous power of 9kW / 120 HP. The motor itself will weigh in at 188 kg  / 413 lbs and will be powered by lithium batteries. It appears that the powertrains will be assembled using components from different companies, with the motors purchased from UQM Technologies and Dana TM4.

The business plan is to market the powertrains to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) rather than the public, and they have received Letters Of Intent from OEMs for 186 powertrains in the first year of production growing to 504 powertrains for the year ended August 31, 2024.

Latest electric boat company to raise significant money

This IPO is just the latest example of the growing interest in electric boating from investors and the public at large. Most other companies have gone the route of crowdfunding campaigns to raise capital, but some of those campaigns have allowed the public to acquire equity.


The Finnish company, one of the pioneers and great innovators of electric boat motors, used the Invesdor crowdfunding platform to blow past its original €600k target to raise €2M in May of 2019. Then this past September another equity crowdfunding was well above target on its opening day and ended up closing with investments of € 2.25M.

GreenStar Marine

Sweden’s GreenStar Marine, another motor company that focuses largely on the sailing market, went over its target by 230% with 314 investors contributing €480k for 4.66% of the company’s shares.


Italy’s DeepSpeed has a revolutionary electric hydrojet motor, the promise of which has driven the company’s capitalization from € 2.1M  in 2019 to € 13.5M currently. That includes a crowdfunder that reached its goal within 48 hours and netted €520K in just 10 days.

X Shore

The Swedish electric boat company is another that participated in the crowdfunding market, raising €1.5M in October of 2019. That was followed  by a private investment of €5M (US$ 5.7M) from a group led by veterinary hospital executive Peter Dahlberg.

Congratulations to Vision Marine Technologies. The electric boat market in 2012 was nowhere near what it is now and Executives Alexandre Mongeon, Patrick Bobby and Robert Ghetti have been instrumental in building awareness of the benefits of electric boats.

The company is now in an excellent position to reap the rewards of their work as the market evolves and grows. As noted in their prospectus, it is anticipated that sales of electric boats and motors will almost triple in the next few years, from about US$4.5 billion in 2018 to US$12.32 billion in 2027.

McGill team working on iron and silicon for cheaper li-ion batteries

diagaram of new iron - sodium batery

One of the problems with li-ion batteries (lithium-iron) is the cobalt used in the cathode. About 60% of the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the mining of the metal has been linked to human rights abuses, corruption, environmental destruction and child labour.

Many companies would like to reduce or eliminate cobalt in lithium batteries, but it is difficult to match its efficiency, and Tesla is one of the few that has been successful in replacing some of it with other chemicals.

Now a research team from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, has come up with a coating that might make it possible for iron and silicon – two of the world’s most abundant elements – to step in for cobalt.

Li-ion batteries with iron and silicon cathode

The McGill team’s work centred around a cathode made of lithium iron silicate. Theoretically it has a high capacity to hold energy over several charge-discharge cycles, but in practice, this hasn’t been achieved.

McGill University battery research teamWhat the group did is experiment with the carbon coating that is applied to cathodes to improve capacity. This is a science unto itself. Cobalt is mixed with manganese, nickel or aluminum in the cathode, and some companies coat the crystals of the whole alloys.

Nano One, a BC based company,   improve performance by coating the nanocrystals of the individual elements.

There are also different elements used as the coating of the crystal, carbon being one of the most common. But for the lithium iron silicate alloy the McGill group has been working on, they tried an electronically conductive polymer called PEDOT.

PEDOT (poly-ethylenedioxythiophene-polystyrene-sulfonate, if you’re really interested) was invented in the 1980s and first used as an anti-static for photographic film. Figuring out a way to apply it to the surface of the nanocrystals took almost two years, but the leader of the team, Majid Rasool, said “We were not expecting that big of a jump in performance over carbon coating.”

To validate the work, the cathodes were sent halfway across Canada to Canadian Light Source in Saskatchewan, where they were tested using the organization’s Soft X-ray Spectromicroscopy and Macromolecular Crystallography Facility.

Coating process opens new production strategies

“The testing information let us dig deeper and begin to explain why the PEDOT coating treatment and the sub-surface iron-rich layer improved performance so much.” Said Rasool. “There’s still work to be done to understand why and build on this, but this coating process opens up new engineering strategies for batteries.”

We’ll put in our usual disclaimer about battery research. It is a long way from laboratory results to you hooking the battery up to your electric boat motor. Rasool and his cohorts seem to have some advantages, though.

They are working with the huge utility, Hydro-Quebec, that is also working with Johnathan Goodenough on a new glass battery. Goodenough is one of the three men who received the Nobel Prize for inventing the lithium-ion battery.

Could drive down the cost of li-ion batteries

Aside from the ethical issues of cobalt, being able to use iron and silicon in the cathode could radically reduce the price of li-ion batteries. Some estimate that the cost of the cathode can make up 40% of a battery cell’s price.

So who knows? If the PEDOT coating (or something else that comes out of this research) is technically and commercially practical, you may be able to look forward to a boat battery made of iron and sand (silica) and start approaching the idea of being ‘dirt cheap’.