Blogpost by Founder Joe Grez, November 21, 2023
As early as the mid to late 1800s, electric launches were quite popular–
there was even a public boat charging network on the Themes. At the 1900 World's fair, something
like 100 electric launches ferried fair–goers to and from the exhibits. But powerboating back
then was an activity for the rich. It would not be until the advent of the outboard form factor
that the general public was given easier access to power boating. And the very first outboard
motors were electric.
There were earlier patents and examples but in 1900, the Submerged Electric
Motor Company in Menomonie Wisconsin patented and sold an electric outboard, similar in concept
to the familiar trolling motors sold today under the brands Minn Kota and Motorguide, Watersnake etc.
The first commercial outboard using fossil fuels was launched 6 years later by
Cameron B. Waterman who re-purposed a motorcycle engine for power. This was not a commercial success
but Waterman did coin the term "portable outboard motor" to describe his nearly 70 lb
Waterman coined the well-known
term "portable outboard motor".
In 1907 Evinrude launched the first high volume production gas outboard and that's
when things took off, at least for gas powered outboards. Evinrude's launch marked the end of
production electric outboard development for quite a stretch. Aside from trolling motors, electric
outboards remained a dormant category until the '70s when Morton Rey created his Ray Electric
In the early days, Morton pretty much did all the development and manufacturing
himself. He cast his own aluminum parts, designed and manufactured his own electronics and so on.
I had the honor of talking with him when starting PropEle Electric Boat Motors Inc. He was very
generous with his time, wisdom, and his story motivated me to move forward. His motors are very
efficient even when compared to many high tech outboards today. And a high percentage of his
original motors are still in commercial operation. Morton has since passed on but his business
is thriving in the care of his family.
Our business was started without a brand name in mind and it's called PropEle
Electric Outboard Motors Inc, or PEBM for short. We started producing ultralight electric outboards
in 2012 expressly to make ship to shore easier. The first product, the Electric Paddle was a very
light 8 lb. and provided just enough power to propel smaller dinghies at a comfortable rowing speed.
We discontinued this product in 2015 in order to re-focus our efforts on developing the EP Carry, a
similar motor but with 3x the power. This new motor is suitable for practically any small
craft under 13ft where portability is a main requirement. It's also a premium product designed
for usability, reliability, survivability.
These days, outboards have gone all tech. But with that comes disposability.
The current state of the art is to include fragile short-lived components like fragile castings, tiny
clamp screws, LCD screens, GPS, pressure sensitive buttons, submerged electronics, a battery that must
be attached with multiple screw-type wire connections and so-on.
EP Carry is a no-nonsense marine scale design with tinned wires, no buttons or
under-water seals to fail, the motor and electronics ride high and dry in the head, it has only one
robust and waterproof snap lock power connector with 2 gold plated pins/sockets. The 6 lb buoyant
waterproof battery lives in a soft buoyant case on the rear seat of your boat. Our tech is locked
in poured epoxy with all soldered connections also submerged in epoxy. This has proven remarkably
resistant to failure from vibration and water immersion. The battery cord is replaceable as is nearly
every other part or subassembly so it can be kept going through years of tough use. But EP Carry does
have a wireless connection that allows you to change the programming for two different power limits.
And when out app launches, it will do everything else, Today's smart phones may be disposable but the
With battery, motor and propeller technology improving, electric performance is
now reaching a point of propulsion superiority against even fuel powered outboards for some applications.
My analysis concludes that with today's batteries and EP Carry's technology, an electric can outperform
a gas motor in terms of weight, propulsive power and range up to an equivalent 6 hp size. For
electric to out-perform gas in larger sizes, it requires higher density battery tech than is available
Ray electric produces probably the most reliable and robust electric outboard for
commercial applications like tour boats. Torqeedo produces high tech outboards for boats 1500 lb and
up. Elco offers lower propulsion efficiency electric outboards based on gasoline motor platforms
starting at 10 hp, and Pure Watercraft produces the motor of choice for crew race coach boats.
There is a new batch of pre-launch high power options developing that are targeting 50 hpe to over
But of all these brands, EP Carry is the only outboard optimized for small boats
under 13 ft and 600 lb. This creates a propulsive effect 3x – 5x more efficient than a trolling
motor, and 2x more efficient than other high tech pod electrics. Because of this efficiency edge,
the award winning EP Carry weighs just 20 lb, 14 lb less than any other integrated outboard making
it the best choice for small boats.