Will this electric surface drive have the stamina to make silent powerboating a reality?

This new electric-powered surface drive offers the concept of easy modular plug-and-play installation. Launched at the METS show last year by German company eD-TEC, the eD-QDrive has been developed for a wide range of vessels. The first test boat will be a 100kW 8.6m RIB, with a claimed range of 70 nautical miles at 30 knots. This is hardly a passage-making engine, but in electric power terms this is relatively generous, and eD-TEC aim to offer a scalable system from 50kW to 600kW this year.

eD-TEC Electric Surface Drive. - A truly modular concept

A truly modular concept.

With the 100kW motor, continuous power can be boosted to 200kW for a limited time, thanks to a high-performance high-discharge battery bank. This bank is scalable in capacity from 80 to 320 kWh – and the system also offers the option of a conventional generator to serve as a range extender. The drives are mounted through the transom (6-degree angle) using a quick-mount frame and can be easily removed and installed without any of the fuss involved with conventional inboard installations. The forward end of the unit offers a power-in socket, two 24V sockets for trim tabs and foil actuators, and two CAN bus connectors, making the eD-QDrive instant plug and play. All other components – the motor, seawater inlets and outlets, motor controller, high-torque gearbox, and humidity, vibration and temperature sensors – are integrated into the drive unit, meaning there are no additional components to mount and no through-hull fittings to be added or cut.

An AI box serves as the system brain, not only controlling and optimising the drivetrain itself but also managing the entire 24V and digital switching system on the boat. This means complete on-board integration, which extends to the autopilot and helm electronics. To keep this system future-proof, AI will allow for continual cloud-based remote monitoring – enabling predictive maintenance and OTA software updates for performance enhancements, plus automatic remote support and parts supply.

eD-TEC Electric Surface Drive - better suited to twin installations

The reality is that this system is better suited to twin installations.

It aims to be a simple set-up, which in effect has the electric motor inboard with the gearbox and ancillaries outboard. Each drive has its own trim tabs either side of the drive, as well as two flanking surface drive propellers. The intention is to offer this electric power plant for a wide range of pleasure boats, apparently right down to 6m sports boats. However, the reality is that surface drives produce good high-speed efficiency at the cost of low-down grip, so it is unlikely that we will see these fitted to the average family sports boat. We can hope that a sterndrive version may at some point appear for smaller craft.

No mention has yet been made regarding battery weight and size, or indeed who makes it if it is not an in-house product. This is a crucial aspect, as even the latest generation of lithium batteries are, in real terms, heavy behemoths. However, as this company was founded by Michael Jost, former Chief Strategy Officer for VW, perhaps we can expect that the head start that the automotive industry has in green power will be correctly focused on the demanding nature of marine propulsion.


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