Why This Could Be The Tesla Of Electric Boats - And You Could Own Some Of It
June 04 2019
Konrad Bergström, a founder of the headset and speaker company Zound Industries, has the sea in his blood. His grandmother came from a family of fishermen on the West coast of Sweden while his grandfather was a seaman. Now with his new venture, X Shore, he is building luxury electric boats.
From June 20 X Shore will be raising up to €2.5 million in a crowdfunding campaign on FundedByMe, a sum equivalent to 5% of X Shore's pre-money valuation of €50 million. Up to now, Bergström has put all the capital in himself.
Launched in 2008, five years later Zound was judged Sweden's fastest-growing company by Swedish business newspaper Dagens Industri, having grown by 10,932% over a period of three years. In 2018, it reported turnover of SEK 1.86 billion ($196.2 million).
By crowdfunding, Bergström hopes to develop a community of investors with similar commitment to reducing marine pollution.
While he admits he made "s***loads of money" from Zound, it was only when he bought himself a speedboat with some of that money that he realized he himself was creating a problem. Each time he went out on the sea in his speedboat, he felt at odds with it.
"I was going out as a stressed-out businessman with all the fumes from the engine, and creating sound pollution," he recalls. "Yet I wanted to be in harmony with the sea, to hear the sound of water against the side of the boat, to get my energy back. I couldn't hear the other people in the boat over the noise of the engine."
marine industry has been slower than the car industry to phase out fossil fuels. Shipping accounts for 13% of sulfur oxide emissions and 15% of nitrous oxide emissions worldwide.
While tighter rules on sulfur oil from 2020 will mean that ships can no longer use the cheapest, worst, sulfur-rich oil, smaller private vessels fall outside these restrictions. “There is no regulation in the marine industry on which fossil fuels boats can spit out,” he says.
A 2019 report by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) found that shipping between Swedish ports created more air pollution and greenhouses gases than domestic flights. Some 26.28% of annual marine emissions in Sweden come from private boats.
Having reinvented the way people heard music through headphones and speakers, Bergström now wanted to change the way people heard the sound of the sea. The catalyst was what he describes as the 'outstanding, sustainable technology' being developed by Tesla with its Model S around 2012.
He began to think about how an electric boat manufacturer could become a world leader. The result is the Eelex, with Rolls-Royce propellors and hydrodynamic drivetrain modularity designed in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. The standardized hull, with modular components, is built in Storebro, at one of Sweden's longest established boat builders. The price starts at €250,000, but this will come down as production scales up.
At an impressive top speed of 40 knots an hour, the Eelex can travel for 185 km at lower speeds without recharging. Bergström points out all marinas have electricity for visiting boats while owners can also run a cable from a house or boatshed.
X Shore will deliver around 10 boats this year, 20 next and 200 by 2021. This autumn, it will launch the Eeltrek model for longer journeys, with a covered cabin and sleeping accommodation.
With the global recreational boat market expected to grow at a compound rate of 4% a year to $50 billion by 2023, X Shore is tapping into a potentially rich seam. IDTech expects the consumer market for hybrid and pure electric boats and ships to reach over $20 billion worldwide by 2027.
Bergström adds: I can see that there has been a shift in the political view alongside new technology. We are piggy-backing on the electric car industry, enabling us to go global. Twenty years ago, we had been educated to put all our rubbish into the water and it would all disappear.
Given how he was inspired by Tesla, I ask if sees X Shore as the Tesla of the private boat world. "Tesla has been an inspiration, but I think we are doing some things even better," he replies. "We don't have to invent the wheel ourselves, but we should question it."