Japanese Yamaha Motors, a big name in marine engines – outboard and inboard – has fully acquired German electric outboard motor pioneer and world leader Torqeedo from Deutz. German ‘historic’ combustion engine manufacturer Deutz AG is more into burning hydrogen now, focusing on construction equipment and agricultural machinery, among others.
It says in a press release that the technology transfer, the initial goal they pursued when acquiring Torqeedo in 2017, has been achieved. “Regarding market knowledge and scaling options, other partners are now better suited for Torqeedo on its way forward. We are pleased to have found such a strategic partner in Yamaha,” says Deutz CEO Sebastian C. Schulte.
Many patents and expertise
That must be music to the ears of Yamaha, which has developed its own range of small electric outboard motors and also featured in inboard drives with its new Harmo drive presented for the first time at the Geneva Boatshow 2021.
According to the Japanese marine specialist, Torqeedo holds many patents related to electric motors, propellers, and electric systems, as well as the R&D capabilities, mass-production equipment, and development resources for next-generation environmental technologies.
“By combining Torqeedo’s assets with Yamaha Motor’s decades of technical expertise and know-how in hull design, marine engines, and more will birth synergies for creating mid-range electric outboard motors as the Company aims to become a leader in the growing market for electric boat propulsion,” the company says in the press release.
Starting in a boat shed
The story of Torqeedo – like many modern tales of innovation, unfolds in a garage – or rather a boathouse by the shore of a lake in Bavaria, Germany. Two engineers from Germany’s leading garden equipment company, Gardena, Christoph Ballin und Friedrich Böbel, had a dream about sailing electrically over the water, as the Starnberger See they were looking at, forbid combustion engines for boats.
In 2005, they founded Torqeedo to come with a lightweight, transportable alternative for the heavy ICE outboards, based on a propeller directly driven by an electro-motor fed by powerful lithium-manganese batteries and 24 times more torque than competing motors.
In 2006, just eleven months later, Torqeedo Travel debuted at the world-famous Boot Düsseldorf trade fair, and an American daughter company was set up in Chicago. The first motors had two horsepower output; today, they can deliver up to 200 hp.
Propelling large yachts
In 2014, the young German start-up reached another milestone by introducing the Deep Blue propulsion system. That integrates all components needed for an inboard system to propel high-performance motorboats, large catamarans, or large sailing yachts.
That Deep Blue system powers the ‘Tyde Open’ presented recently in December, a joint development with BMW’s Dreamworks design studio. The latter is a 49-foot foiling electric yacht; the yacht will get a 400 kWh bank of BMW i3 batteries to feed twin 100 kW Torqeedo Deep Blue electric motors. That should enable a top speed of 30 knots (55,5 km/h) and a cruising speed of 25 knots, with a range of up to 55 nautical miles (101 km).