Electric jetski maker Taiga taking off with $100M investment

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.

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