With the success of Tesla electric cars, you can feel the shift to electric coming to jet skis. Many new electric manufacturers are coming in, and big names like Sea-Doo are showing off prototypes.
This raises many questions about electric jet skis, like, are they going to replace gas ones? Are they safe? Is it even worth it?
Let me talk about all of this and then some!
Electric Won’t Replace Gas Anytime Soon?
No, electric watercraft are not going to replace gas-powered ones anytime soon.
But they don’t have to.
There is a segment of owners that would benefit the most from an all-electric.
One example of an electric PWC is the Orca from Taiga Motors; it can go “about” 2 hours on a charge.
The charge time can take several hours depending on the outlet used (10 to 12 hours if 110-volt outlet, 240v is faster).
While this may seem off-putting at first, this is not bad news for people who live on the lake.
In fact, an electric PWC makes more sense to someone who lives on the lake than a gas-powered one.
Perfect For Lake Residents
A 2-hour ride time is perfect, as that is about as much as you get out of a gas-powered model. It’s even worse on supercharged gas-powered machines.
You also have the fact that most people don’t ride for 2 hours straight. You often stop and rest as the waves can wear you out.
I ride for “30 to 45 minutes” before I get tired and need a break. Jumping waves and playing around can wear you out. Going another round while on the lake is about all you want to do before daily life events take over.
So, a 2-hour ride time is quite good!
But here’s the best part of a battery-powered jet ski… no gas.
If you live on the lake, you either have to bring gas cans down or go to a gas dock. Both of those events suck. Gas cans are heavy, and filling up at the gas dock is super expensive and messy.
As for a battery-powered watercraft, you just unplug and go. That is light years more convenient to deal with than filling up with gas.
When you want to ride – you want to ride now, but if your watercraft has no gas in it because the last friend to ride it never filled it up, it just kills the momentum.
It’s Cheaper To Run
A PWC with an 18-gallon gas tank at $3 a gallon at the gas pump docks would cost you $54 to fill up.
At $0.11 kWh, it would cost about $3 (if we round up) to “fill up” a 20kWh electric waverunner battery.
$54 Gas VS. $3 Electric
Clearly, electric wins this one.
Please keep in mind, you don’t have to go somewhere to “fill up the tank”. You don’t have to join some yacht club or look for pumps. Your home is where you fill up, and it’s always filled up because you can keep the electric jetski on charge when you’re not riding.
Don’t Forget Maintenance Cost Too!
Many lake residents will love this news: Maintaining an electric ski is easier and cheaper than a gas one.
Gas-powered watercraft require an annual oil change, costing $200 to $500, and winterization, which can be $100 to $200, if you live in a freezing climate.
On the other hand, electric skis don’t need oil changes or winterization. They have fewer moving parts, making maintenance less troublesome.
For lake homes, the lower maintenance cost and less downtime due to repairs during peak seasons make electric jet skis a sensible choice.
Electric cars of the past put a damper on modern electric vehicles, making people think they’re slow when they’re not. Electric cars dominate in drag races as shown below.
Electric motors have a lot more torque, which is super helpful in jet skis. That bottom end is needed to jump waves and getting out of your own wake.
It’s a new world, and electric everything is taking over. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s for sure happening.
Water & Electricity
Probably the number one thing on everyone’s minds is that electricity and water don’t mix.
This is very true!
But it’s also not that simple, either.
While you don’t want to get the electronics and the battery wet, things can be done to protect them. Many electric manufacturers will have protections in place to keep water away from the sensitive components.
It’s still important to not get a lot of water in the hull of any PWC.
Even gas-powered PWC can suffer from flooding. I’ve seen people blow their engine because the ski sunk, and they tried to start it with water in the cylinders.
Both gas and electric suffer from this issue, so I would not hold sinking against either one.
I can’t be all positive, so here are the downsides.
A battery-powered watercraft is not going to be for people who tour or go on long rides.
This is why I say their perfect for people who live on the lake and just want to get on and go. When you’re done, you just put it back on charge, so it’s ready for the next ride.
If you’re using a standard 110 Volt outlet, like the kind you plug a lamp into, the charge time can take overnight. (10 to 12 hours)
You will have the option to get a 240-volt charger installed, and it will decrease charge time quite a bit.
Charger Needs To Be Installed
For the 240-volt charger option, which I recommend most people go with, it will need to be installed by a professional.
This is a powerful outlet, and you’re near water; this is a good time to let a pro handle it. Even the 110-volt option still needs to be handled with care, so let a pro mess with it too.
This will be another cost you’ll need to consider.
Needs A Strong Dealer Network
Having a strong dealer network will be critical for battery-powered jet skis to take off.
The customer needs a strong dealer presence for buying and repairs. (And overall trust!)
This is why I hope the big names like Sea-Doo, Yamaha, or even Kawasaki would step in. Sea-Doo has shown off an GTI-e prototype before and knowing them, they have a working model.
Electric models aren’t super cheap, but they’re not as pricey as you might think. Orca’s model starts at $17,500+.
Comparatively, it’s more than a $12k Sea-Doo GTI, but not bad.
If you spend $50 a week on gas for your jet ski, that’s $200 a month, adding up to $1,000 yearly plus $500 on service and winterization for a $1,500 annual cost. In 5 years, that’s $7,500.
An electric jet ski costs $3 a week, totaling $12 a month, and $60 for a 5-month riding season. Over 5 years, it’s $300.
While not a perfect comparison, it shows electric jet skis are cheaper to run and less hassle with fewer moving parts.
Electric Is Here To Stay
Electric PWCs are becoming popular, especially with advancing battery tech.
They’re great for lake residents and yacht owners, thanks to ease of use.
Electric watercraft are just the start; electric boats and pontoons are next, perfect for weekend family outings.
The next decade promises exciting changes in the jet ski industry, with electric options possibly becoming the next big thing, like it was with the shift from 2-strokes to 4-strokes.