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Retrofitting to electric has Worldwide potential

By choosing to electrify existing 2 and 4 stroke outboard casings and jet ski hulls, Eclass Outboards has developed a product which is suitable for in- country retrofitting all around the world. And provides a solution for developing countries.

This has sparked the interest of an International Development Fund, which underwrote a pilot Eclass Outboards electric retrofitting project in Africa. DT Global in conjunction with a local Senegal company JokoSun, and UK innovation company Brink are working toward developing a marine electric conversion facility in Senegal. Brink

These partners recognised that developing countries are dependent on petrol outboards for fishing and tourism. There are many suitable casings already in the country and retrofitting them to electric, not only provides huge carbon savings but also prevents those casings being dumped in land or sea. These casings still contain oil and fuel remnants, so their dumping is a serious environmental hazard.

This follows Eclass Outboards presentation to the Pacific Traditional Boat Builders Forum, which led to multiple enquiries from the Pacific Countries, Asia and South America, who all have similar issues, and a deep commitment to climate change programs. It is not uncommon for broken outboard engines to be rotting on beaches and retrofitting is a solution which has captured attention in these countries.

Tough Electric Outboards for Tough Conditions

New two stroke engines have been banned for sale in Australia, the US and other developed countries but are a scourge in poorer countries. Reports have estimated that two-stroke engines were, by themselves, a major source of air pollution and pollution-related health problems, throughout Asia.

Although two stroke engines are banned from sale in Australia, we estimate there are still around 500,000 two stroke outboards operating in Australia. Eclass Outboards have always wanted to provide an electric solution for those two stroke casings and to produce tough outboards for Australian conditions. Again, this is a suitable solution adaptable for many countries.

Australian conditions are often remote, which makes part replacement challenging on electric outboards with a fully proprietary design.

Eclass Outboards recognised that by retrofitting Yamaha, Mercury, Tohatsu and Honda casings, outboard parts, propellers, and accessories would be readily available – even in the most remote parts of the world. For example, in places like the Northern Territory of Australia, your remote location may be 6 hours’ drive from the nearest town, and you may have to dodge a few crocodiles to get there!

Australian sea and river conditions are also tougher than European or US lakes, with rocks and oyster leases, strong currents, and other hazards. With the powerhead under the cowling, Eclass Outboards are protected from damage caused by these underwater hazards.

New electrification pathway for marine mechanics

Our approach has also resonated with suppliers to marine repair shops, who recognize as the industry moves toward electrification, that the maintenance regime required of petrol and diesel engines will not be required of electric engines. This will inevitably lead to a subsequent loss of income for these businesses.

Retrofitting existing client casings with Eclass Outboards powerheads will give these marine mechanics and repair shops a firm foothold in the coming electric revolution. And reduce not only the carbon footprint of the casings, but dramatically reduce shipping costs by sourcing the heaviest component (the casing) in country.

Encouraged by the interest, Eclass Outboards began developing an electric Jet Ski (PWC) in 2021. It is envisioned that retrofit electric kits, including batteries will be commercially available in 2023/24. We have begun with a Kawasaki Hull and will develop more brands’ conversions kits based on demand.

Eclass Outboards still manufactures all new outboards 4kW – 30kW, at very competitive prices and will ship anywhere in the world. We are open to discussions with suitable companies, who believe they have a market for retrofitting to electric.

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By Lynelle Johnson. EClass.