The Ilmor ION electric outboard motor, developed by Ilmor’s Advanced Technology Group, hopes to power the next generation of light electric watercraft from tenders to pontoon boats.
The new electric outboard motor was shown off for the first time in the US over the weekend at the Miami Boat Show after being unveiled late last year at the METSTRADE boat show in Amsterdam.
Surrounded by countless boats that could have made use of its sleek and innovative drive, the Ilmor ION electric outboard showed off the future of light electric marine motors.
The motor touts a power output of 6 kW, which is around 8 horsepower. But we’ve seen several small electric outboards that provide equivalent performance to combustion engine outboards 2-3x their power rating. So that little 8 hp electric outboard could be punching far above its weight class, so to speak.
The motor also has a “Boost Mode” that can add around 15% more power for a few moments, when motoring out of somewhere quickly is a concern.
But don’t call this an electric trolling motor. The Ilmor ION looks to be a much more refined, not to mention more powerful setup.
As the company explained:
From the beginning, achieving a progressive design was crucial, and its bold look is a glimpse of what the future has in store. The Ilmor team integrated critical components requiring cooling into the underwater housing, which allows for passive cooling and increased performance. They also included a segment-first, fully integrated trim system to expand the ION’s capabilities. This results in eliminating the need for costly aftermarket systems while providing integration with the overall controls of the motor.
The transom-mount motor is designed for light watercraft such as pontoon boats and tenders. The motor can power a 24′ (7.3 meter) pontoon boat at 6 knots (7 mph or 11 km/h).
The drive unit also includes an innovative RGB LED lighting strip for both visibility and customization.
As the company explained:
This vivid lighting was integrated into the product design to provide a visual indicator of the motor running condition to increase safety when the ION is operational. However, other modes were also incorporated to add to a lively environment. Modes include charging, dock, running, and various party modes.
The drive system runs on a 48V circuit, and Ilmor is currently working with battery manufacturers to develop both a lithium-ion and a lead acid battery pack solutions. The former would allow less weight and longer cycle life, while the latter would keep the price down for those with extra space on board, such as larger pontoon boats.
As Ilmor engineer Jonathan Roos explained:
We have partnered with lithium battery companies and support a few different form factors to fit into different dimensional applications. We also have it setup to work with lead acid batteries for low cost installations, which is typical for pontoon boat installs since they have the room.
Multiple prototypes have so far racked up hundreds of hours of testing, and production units are expected to become available in the following months as the company’s Michigan factory spins up to production.
The motors will be available through a dealer network, allowing private boaters to retrofit their own vessels or build an electric boat. OEM manufacturers will also have access to Ilmor’s ION drive for building new electric boats.
The ION electric outboard was initially designed for electric-only and no-wake lakes where electric pontoon boats have become popular, but the company has since seen significant interest for applications ranging from jon boats, tenders, and other small boats. European interest has also spiked, where electric outboards make it easier to fit tighter European regulations.
It’s great to see more electric outboard motors preparing to come to market, especially in higher power configurations.
We’ve seen several 1-3 hp equivalent electric outboards designed for small skiffs, but motors similar in power to this Ilmor ION unit provide much more versatility for boat designers and consumers alike. Moving a 24′ pontoon boat at 6 knots is certainly more than a trolling motor could handle. And with advanced features like seaweed protection and power tilt trim, it seems like Ilmor is prepared to go head to head with some of the fancier options on the market at a more affordable price.
Hmm, maybe I’ll just have to get one of these to upgrade my Chinese electric boat. The motor likely costs more than what I paid for the boat, but it’d sure add some pizazz – not to mention some power!
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