This High-Design Electric Yacht Aims to Change Boating Forever
May 29 2019
Swedish firm X Shore is formulating a mix of aesthetics and sustainability to make waves around the globe
“I always had a passion for the sea,” says Konrad Bergström, founder of X Shore, the Swedish company working to remake the private boating industry with its line of sleek electric yachts. “My grandmother was from a fisherman’s family, my grandfather was from a maritime family, and of course that put the sea into my childhood in a very natural way.” Over the years, Bergström says, he started to notice an increase in plastic and pollution, fewer fish, and an abundance of dead sea life, even in the relatively clean waters surrounding his native Stockholm. Having founded Zound Industries—the parent company of audio hardware brands Urbanears and Marshall headphones and speakers—Bergström decided to take action by launching the world’s first line of green boats. “X Shore was a combination of looking at nature, being part of it, and seeing boats that were not that well designed and functional.”
Bergström, a formidable presence with his curly blond mane atop a smiling, bearded face, brings to bear a healthy mix of entrepreneurialism and environmentalism. “I know that we’ve been raping Mother Earth with our commercialism, but I don’t think we should go back to live in caves,” he says. “I do believe we can find solutions.”
We met him in the courtyard of a small design hotel, Can Bordoy, that’s recently opened in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where he lives with his family for about half the year. A perfect place, then, to celebrate the launch of X Shore’s latest model, Eelex, a battery-powered vessel that measures either 6.5 meters or 8 meters and tops out at 40 knots while moving almost silently through the water. Priced at $290,000, the Eelex 8000's max range is an impressive 100 nautical miles, with none of the airborne or waterborne emissions of a typical power boat. Indeed, Bergström and his growing company—now comprising a team of 10, including Ola Thoren, who was previously running an IKEA facility in Virginia—are banking on the “Power of Silence,” its tagline, to scale—and fast.
Asked about where he sees X Shore in a decade, its founder rocks in his chair and exclaims, “That’s a big one!” He brings up the car industry often when talking about his ambitions for the company—all the while rejecting well-worn comparisons to Tesla; he drives an Audi e-tron—and says how he’s creating a modular platform for boats, one that can be customized and evolve but also produced by the thousands. “I can’t tell all the details, but we’re going to be very aggressive,” he says.
Part of that determination entails a 24/7 mentality companywide, whereby no design is ever complete. In updating the earlier 8-meter Smögen, X Shore’s first model, designers Sten Örneblad and Norra Norr did away with its costly and untenable teak decking, replacing it with marine-grade cork, a renewable natural resource. Customers can select a variety of seating arrangements—the chairs themselves are crafted from saddle leather, weathering beautifully in the sun and salt-water air—and add-ons, like a roof rack for kayaks or even bicycles. The available hull colors were chosen to complement the boat’s natural habitats: moss green, sand, coffee.
The plan looks perfect on paper, but even Bergström admits X Shore has its work cut out for it. While a number of new and forthcoming regulations on the use of fossil fuel–powered waterborne vessels work in their favor, the U.S., the company’s end-game market, has not yet green-lit the sale and use of the Eelex. But that’s all just a matter of paperwork, Bergström says: “We’re going there in 2020 and it’s going to be with a big bang.”
In the end, X Shore’s founder brings it all back to his concern for the health of the planet. “I don't think very short term or very small,” he says. “I understand that if we don't do anything about the oceans, it will be a problem for us all.”