British powerhouses RS Electric Boats and Cheetah Marine International are joining forces to develop a new generation of electric workboats. The companies, both based on the UK’s south coast (RS Electric Boats at Hamble Point, and Cheetah Marine at Ventnor, Isle of Wight), will be working together to accelerate the evolution of dependable electric boats for commercial, and leisure, use.
The exciting development starts with commercial applications. Initially electric workboats will be developed and delivered under a combination of the RS Electric Boats and Cheetah brands, with electric catamaran adventure boats to follow.
The first of the electric workboats will be launched in Spring 2023, with the first adventure boat to be displayed at boot Düsseldorf.
The collaboration officially launches in June 2022. This move is typical of RS Sailing (parent of RS Electric Boats) which is looking to expand its group of marine companies as it seeks exciting opportunities to deliver against its environmental objectives.
Both companies will be exhibiting side-by-side at SeaWork (21-23 June).
RS says that future boats produced under Cheetah will have the option to be made EV Ready, even if a few customers still specify fossil-fuel power. The ability to retro-fit electric propulsion will be available within the model range.
First steps include pairing designs, taking Cheetah Marine’s catamaran designs and finding synergies with RS Electric Boats’ electric-specific boat design. Cheetah Marine’s catamarans are already known for their stability, spacious working deck space and rough sea handling while RS Electric Boats specialises in fully integrated systems and managing weight reduction in the manufacturing.
Together they aim to produce electric workboat catamarans suitable for a wide range of applications.
Both companies see immediate benefits, aside from shared business synergies with admin, marketing and manufacturing. Cheetah Marine’s international reputation for stability and space will be further expanded under the RS marine group’s mass production and logistical capabilities.
Plus, they each bring a unique blend of innovation to the partnership.
“Cheetah Marine is very well respected,” says Jon Partridge, CEO for RS’ marine group of businesses. “Sean Strevens, its founder, has been developing his designs for 30 years, creating catamarans to handle rough seas and beach safely in surf. He’s got customers ranging from expedition skippers to patrol personnel with hydrographic surveyors and more in the middle. His innovative design was originally for him to conquer surf when commercial fishing. It’s a proven concept and he’s sold over 600.”
“RS Sailing’s knowledge of lightweight materials, and RS Electric Boats’ experience of designing electric specific craft are invaluable,” says Sean Strevens, founder, Cheetah Marine. “They’re both companies who innovate and deliver. Their experiences – working to solve the challenges that their customers and the environment face – mirror ours. Which is why we’re bringing the two together to mould commercial electric catamarans.”
Cheetah Marine is currently developing zero-emissions catamarans in its Portugal factory, using experience developed from building a Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine (HICE) powered Cheetah in 2015.
“We already have the greatest infrastructure on the planet, every pontoon has charging on it,” says Partridge. “Couple that with adventure boats for the whole family to enjoy as there’s space on a catamaran to carry all the toys – for example, while one parent fishes, the other can paddleboard and the children can kayak – and you’ve got a stable, attractive, environmentally friendly combination.”