Lake Tahoe business owners see future in all-electric motorboat’s launch

Local News

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — Clean air and water are selling points to visitors to Lake Tahoe, but retaining that attraction is becoming more difficult as the tourist population grows. 

Now, the area is a tiny step closer to reducing environmental pollution with the introduction of an electric powerboat. 

“I think it’s the start of something very big,” Superior Boat Repair & Sales owner Bob Bense told FOX40.

Bense is the first dealer in North America for a brand of boat called Nautique. It’s powered by a heavy duty battery and propulsion system specially developed for marine use.

The boats are well-suited to Lake Tahoe because gasoline engines lose power at high altitudes.

“With electric, it doesn’t know the difference, so you don’t lose that horsepower,” Bense explained.

Still, electric boats have to fight the same often incorrect notions of power, range and reliability that plagued the first electric cars, but Nautique has pioneered wake sports watercraft and has benefitted from new technology. 

“You’re considering wakesurfing, wakeboarding, pretty heavy water sports usage, and still enough charge once you get down to a certain percentage to get back to the dock,” said Rob Osborn, who is part of Ingenuity Electric’s business development department.

Getting to and from the dock is a little bit eerie, as there is a lack of sound coming from its propulsion system. While maneuvering in and out of the marina, a small wake is the only clue that you’re moving. 

But an issue that has dogged electric cars also applies to electric boats: where can you charge one.

Homewood Resorts on the West Shore operates the Homewood High and Dry Marina, as well as a ski resort and restaurant. It opened the lake’s first charging station on the water, capable of quickly charging electric boats. 

“It capitalizes on technology that already exists out there in the automotive world,” explained marina director David Topol.

Homewood has a vested interest in reducing carbon emissions and fuel spillage, he told FOX40.

“The lake is our best asset, so we want to take care of it for as long as we can so that it’s here for future generations,” he said.

With few electric boats on the water, it’s definitely an investment in the future.

Some, like Bense, feel it’s a good gamble. 

“Other boat manufacturers will have electric boats as well, and they’ll become more commonplace like the electric car is today,” Bense predicted.

The Nautique electric boat is not cheap — its list price starts at around $280,000 — but like high-end electric cars, it’s aimed at customers who value the latest in technology and clean energy.

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