Weird Electric Jet Skis Are Hitting The Waves

When it comes to reducing emissions from human sources, we’re at the point now where we need to take a broad-based approach. It’s not enough to simply make our cars more efficient, or start using cleaner power plants. We need to hit carbon zero, and thus everything has to change.

To that end, even recreational watercraft are going electric in this day and age. Several companies are developing motor-powered models that deliver all the fun without the emissions. But to do that, they’re taking to the air.

Wave Racers (Batteries Included)

The jet ski is a simple enough craft to understand. You put a powerful combustion engine into a small hull big enough to stand or sit on. You pair it with a jet drive that squirts water out the back to propel it at great speed. The result is a lightweight, fun watercraft that pairs great agility and acceleration with noise loud enough to annoy wealthy lakeside residents.

However, that formula doesn’t work as well when you try to shift to electric drive. The reason, as always, is down to energy density. Throw enough batteries into a jet ski to run a powerful electric motor for any decent length of time, and it’s suddenly far too heavy and far too bulky to be much fun at all. Alternatively, you can make one that’s lightweight and enjoyable, but it’ll only run for a few minutes.

The Pelagion HydroBlade uses a hydrofoil to help cut drag, which allows the battery-electric drivetrain to run for longer and at higher speeds. Credit: Pelagion, press site

For that reason, the new crop of electric personal watercraft have tended to explore alternative designs. Instead of a simple hull sitting on the water, they tend to employ hydrofoils instead. As the craft gains forward speed, the hydrofoil travelling beneath the surface of the water generates lift. This reduces drag as most of the the watercraft is lifted above the waterline. It can reduce the energy expenditure required by up to 70%. That’s of huge benefit when you’re running on electric power. It’s a far more efficient way of getting around on the water, and lets a battery powered craft run for longer with a smaller, lighter battery pack.

A well-known device that exploits this principle is the Fliteboard eFoil. It’s nothing like a jet ski; instead, it’s similar to those hydrofoil surfboards that lift you above the waves, but it adds an electric motor. Instead of having to pump the board with your legs to generate lift, the electric motors handle that job instead. Thus, you can skate along above the water in a kind-of-elegant, kind-of-strange fashion. The problem with the eFoil, though, is it takes a lot of skill to ride. It requires balance skills similar to riding a surfboard or skateboard, and is steered by the rider shifting their weight around.

It’s early days yet for the HydroBlade design, but the hope is that it could reach top speeds of up to 70 km/h. Credit: Pelagion, press site

The hydrofoil principle still has merit, though, and that’s how it ended up in the Pelagion HydroBlade design.  The HydroBlade looks like a stripped-back stand-up jet ski from above the water. Below the waterline, though, it has a pair of electric propulsion units good for 16 kW peak output, and a hydrofoil for generating lift. Out in front, there’s a rudder controlled by the handlebars that allows the rider to steer. Thanks to the efficiency of the hydrofoil-based design, it’s rated to cruise for up to four hours, with a top speed of 70 km/h. While it’s still in development, the company has targeted a 60-mile range for the design. The craft runs an 11 kWh, 58 kg battery pack, which makes up over half of its total 104 kg weight.

The prototype Flyway electric water scooter is another player in this space. The prototype machine looks almost identical to first-generation standup jet skis. Beneath the conventional-looking hull, though, is a large boom leading down to a hydrofoil and underwater propulsion system. It’s referred to as a “water scooter” by its creators, as it uses a propeller for propulsion, rather than a water jet. Details are scarce, but the craft looks to be great fun in a demo video released late in 2021.

Electric watercraft come with one main benefit over traditional jet skis. Without the roar of internal combustion engines, they can be much quieter, albeit water noise is still a thing. Some have raised concerns about the risk of fire, given the splashy attention given to burning EVs in the media. It’s one thing to flee a burning electric car, when one can simply run away on foot. It’s another to deal with a malfunctioning high-voltage battery when you’re sitting next to it in mildly-conductive seawater. Ultimately, there’s not a huge risk of electrocution, but you’re going to want to swim away fast if those cells catch fire. Fundamentally though, unlike a car on the freeway, a burning electric jet ski will likely simply sink into water which will extinguish much of the combustion.

Ultimately, the days of putting internal combustion engines in everything with reckless abandon are soon to be over. Various jurisdictions are introducing laws requiring more vehicles and equipment to turn to zero-emissions power sources. The jet ski will not be a protected species when this legislation becomes mainstream around the world. Thus, fans of motorized water escapades are turning their efforts to developing a new generation of electric recreational watercraft. As they should!

68 thoughts on “Weird Electric Jet Skis Are Hitting The Waves

  1. As someone with knowledge of jet skis, both the maintenance and misuse, this is horrendously dangerous. A major benefit to a jet ski is that it’s pretty much a giant pillow, so hitting anything means the jet ski takes most of the damage. Even still, I’ve seen some pretty mangled jet skis from crashes. Lots of drunk people. PWC are fun, but they’re treated as a toy when they aren’t. It seems to me that this hydrofoil crash lacks the marginal safety features of a jetski. Lowering the drag means that the craft won’t slow down immediately when the throttle is released. Having a hydrofoil means it’s unstable at low speeds, so you’re likely to fall off when slowing down or cornering.

      1. It’s a different beast. It will stop FAST once your point it downward, when going fast check out e-foil boards which are basically the same thing but without a handlebar. If you’re retarded enough to drive a jetski drunk, you maybe deserve the consequences that it will most likely deal out just to the driver in most cases.

        1. The point I was trying to make is that MOST jet ski drivers are drunk. Jet skis are fun, drinking is fun, and the times when people are available to ride a jet ski are usually the same as those when they’re avilable to drink. Most people don’t have enough free time, so they try to pack everything fun into a short time, especially if it’s a vacation. When considering design safety, you can’t ignore how the product will *actually* be used, or you’ll be fooling yourself.

          1. Jet Skis ≠ WaveRunners

            I’ve yet to find a place renting legitimate Jet Skis on vacation, unfortunately. I think they’re more fun and interesting than WaveRunners.

          2. Just not true though, I know dozens of jetski owners who never use them drunk. I see them on the shore and generally they’ve driven to the site and drive away an hour or so later – they’re not drunk. Maybe it’s a local problem specific to your area/country?

          3. > rarely drunk in Australia

            As far as I can tell, an average male can drink up to 30 grams of alcohol and remain within the limit, which is just under two pints of regular beer, so you can be slightly boozy on the water and still test under the limit.

    1. >Lowering the drag means that the craft won’t slow down immediately when the throttle is released.

      Oh, it will. As soon as you throttle down, it sinks into the water and stops like it just hit a brick wall.

      1. The whole point of this design is that is has a lower hydrodynamic profile than a jetski, it’s going to have similar inertia to a jetski though. I’m sure when it’s resting in the water it will decelerate as quickly as a jetski, but it’s just not going to when it’s aloft.

    2. Then again using gyros and quick reverse trust – throttled – it could keep you out of the water just like a segway – but going fast in the water in anything can be dangerous.

    3. Communist China OWNS over 90% of the battery production and materials markets. EV’s are merely a fad that has no choice but to fail. Have you seen what happens to these EV’s when in contact with salt water. We have had many fires and explosions in Florida due to them.
      I have been riding waverunners since they came out and I’ll stick with the fossil burners!
      Happy riding!

    4. This looks very similar to an air chair. Having tried (and mostly failed) to ride one, I can tell you that unless this device has the innards of a Segway to replace human balance and skill, most people will not be able to get this up on the foil.
      Also, air chairs look wicked scary since you are strapped into a seat at an elevated height (when on the foil) on what is very much like an inverted pendulum. But even seemingly violent face-first water entry in an air chair is surprisingly non-traumatic. But 100% agree that a collision between this and something hard carries much higher risk.
      But man does that look crazy awesome.

    5. Been riding stand up jet skis since 1980. have had 5 stand ups with current ride a 2021 Yamaha superjet. cant wait to get an electric hydrofoil.

      must say however the narrative about an electric anything being more prone to fires or explosion is wrong. google or chatGPT it….gas vehicles are several times more prone to fires than an EV.

  2. This is cool, I think there was a guy that did this but not a jet skie more of a surf board. The Pelagion HydroBlade reminds me of a Star War’s Speeder Bike awesome! lol

  3. So the solution to decreasing pollution and energy consumption is… to have more toys that consume energy and resources? Really? The opening paragraph makes no sense at all.

    1. First paragraph doesn’t say “keep all existing toys and make new electric ones”. Progressive replacement is the default method of getting to electrified everything, toys included.

    2. There’s a chance, a small, small chance you can convince westerners to adopt less destructive behaviour. Choose local foods sometimes, have a vegetarian meal once a week. Bike to work occasionally. Change out gasoline cars for electric.

      To convince us to actually stop participating in conspicuous consumption, especially the type of people who generally buy PWC in the first place… Well, you might as well just skip the middle man and try to talk the CO2 into sequestering itself.

      We are not a people wont to enlightenment.

      1. There’s no logic to trying to convince people (not just western) to stop – these things are generally luxuries and fun, and literally no-one wants to give up their luxuries and fun because there’s no point in living if you only exist. Of course there’s ways of getting enjoyment from less destructive things, but in reality you’re just offsetting the damage. I like kitesurfing. It’s wind powrered. To do kitesurfing I have to drive the kit to the beach. The kit is made of materials and parts that have been shipped across the world and made in high temperature processes. Not everyone likes cold water swimming in the canal 100 metres from their house so everyone is going to have a footprint that is non-zero and where they draw the line is personal. You have a pet? That’s total extravagance and wasted carbon. You have a kid – same. You’re reading this on a phone that was made on the other side of the world at great environmental cost. Where do you draw the line, and why are you right over anyone else?

      2. >Change out gasoline cars for electric.

        If I did that, I would waste all my savings and increase my CO2 emissions by a factor 10x. That’s because I do bike to work, and my car is on such low duty that replacing it with an electric vehicle would waste more than it saves.

  4. What fun this will be when the hydrofoil hits a submerged anchor chain or mooring line.
    In the video you can already see the moron driving it getting way too close to moored boats.
    As a scuba diver and a nature lover I hate jet skis with a passion. They are noisy and usually recklessly driven at too high speeds by proletarians with more horsepower than IQ.

    1. As a scuba diver, kitesurfer and nature lover, these look great. Can you get too close to moored boats – sure. So can other boats, and scuba divers. The moron is the person, not the toy.

      1. “The moron is the person, not the toy.”

        This. I owned an SXR800 for years and always made sure to keep my distance from others. I mostly rode on a private lake by my house and I know almost everyone that lives there so I never had any issues.

        1. The problems come about when every moron can get their hands on the toy.

          Trying to make them safer only encourages more morons to try. Requiring a certain level of skill to operate will help keep it safe, as will a lot of hype about how dangerous these things are.

        1. My guess is that sailboats are likely an order of magnitude more expensive; that may help too with limiting the moron population in the captain and navigator roles…

        2. Those toys are also inherently less fun to use. And as a powerboater, I can categorically tell you that sailboats have a much higher capability for annoyance and danger. Ever try navigating small waterways and slipways with low-cost-of-entry sailboat types about? It’s an endless stream of evasive maneuvers when they take exactly the opposite route than you expect given the wind and their position. When they pull up on a slipway and leave their sails flapping and the boom knocks you clean over. When they run aground in shallow water and need rescue. Bigger yachts – sure, they’re nice and predictable and quiet, but they’re also a lot more expensive than a PWC. Everyone hates everyone else, that’s just how it is.

  5. Saving energy by electrifying recreational vehicles is not the wisest way to do it.

    You can view a battery system in terms or energy returns, or EROEI, where the energy you invest is the cost to manufacture the battery, and the return is how much energy you can ultimately store. In principle, a lithium battery can have an EROEI of 10:1 if you use it optimally.

    But, when you use it infrequently and only charge it up once a summer, the actual “return” you get is closer to 1:1 which means you spend as much energy having the battery as you use through it. In other words, the efficiency of the system is terrible.

    Suppose you ride the jet ski 10 times a summer for 10 years. That’s 100 full cycles on a battery that is designed to return 3000 cycles and costs the equivalent of 300 cycles to manufacture. The efficiency of the battery as a system would be 33% which is further reduced by the rest of the electrical and mechanical system to the point that you’re worse off than just running a gasoline engine.

    1. Besides the direct manufacturing costs, there are also indirect costs through the economy.

      Every dollar in price you pay for the battery can be translated into energy, because every dollar of GDP is associated with some cost in energy. Someone somewhere has to work more to make that dollar, which means using more energy and materials. Paying a greater price in dollars means paying a greater price in kilowatt-hours, which counts against the efficiency of electric vehicles in general in so far as they are more expensive.

    2. In effect, the only improvement you get in this application comes from the fact that the electric jet ski is feeble compared to a normal jet ski, so it can’t use as much energy.

      That’s like putting a brick under the gas pedal of your car, so you couldn’t spend as much fuel.

    3. Generally the complaints about PWC having engines is not due to carbon costs – they’re hardly used, no-one cares. It’s the noise and the other emissions (oil, particulates etc) that get them banned.

    4. If you really don’t believe in Climate Change, how about giving some weight to not being a slave to other countries. US to Saudi Arabia, Germany to Russia, … Nothing wrong in purchasing a portion of your energy from other sources. However, dealer’s have power over their addicts. When your dealer guides your decisions, you end up a prostitute.

      What’s the cost of that?

      I say, double the price of imported oil. Fund alternatives with the difference. HaHaHa! I know, I know, you hate this idea. hehe …

      You can blame it on whichever President you want, the price of gas will always go up. Alternatives will go down relatively. We will have to change. You can be ‘sticks-in-the-mud”, you can come up with loads of lopsidedly applied gibberish numbers and facts. You can delude yourself into thinking you know more than those that actually research these issues – tell yourself you found a little problem in a solution no one has even thought about.

      I’m sure you agree it takes great effort for countries to make changes, and especially when applied to the whole earth. The fact they find it important enough to act on Climate Change in rather “speedy”, painful and often unpopular matter should tell you something. You really think they are just influenced by mindless “do-gooders”? Never saw a lobby for that sort, versus never-ending funds for maintaining the current course…

      So, at what point do batteries make sense to you? $10/gal for gasoline? $20?

      Nothing wrong in phasing in new toys. The HydroBlade looks fun.

      Enjoy the coming Change.

      1. Yes the worlds green battery revolution will be led by China and we’ll all be slaves to them?

        Waiting for electrics to replace all of humanities emissions is waiting for the sea level to change. Use less and find ways of getting more with less!

  6. As bad as petroleum is for the water you want to take the toxic sludge of a burning Lithium battery into the waterways as they burn and sink? Yeah, not a fan. Sure, the fire is out, but let’s poison the aquatic life far worse than what a couple of gallons of gas will do.

    Hope they don’t decide to put charging stations on the water. Can’t think of a worse idea there.

    1. Except for the water putting the fire out, which it wont…. that’s about all you can do with a lithium fire. Won’t even consider the toxics created making the battery pack.

    2. >toxic sludge of a burning Lithium battery
      Lithium, graphite, and some plastic and solvent that goes up in flames when the lithium hits water? What’s the bad part here? Gas is way worse.

  7. Agreed.
    If the introduction of an electric motor provides greater performance or a novel riding experience, great. Let’s hear about it.

    But please stop with the lowered-emission-save-the-earth-climate-change claptrap every time an electric motor or battery is introduced into the mix. This relentless chicken-little drumbeat from all media has reduced the whole topic to a tiresome parody of itself.

    By the way, if electric jetskis ever become popular, I will probably invest in Honda… because every toy-hauler will be outfitted with a generator. The 5-gallon gasoline cans everyone already hauls around will remain… the gas will simply fuel the generators instead of the jetskis…. and then after a fun day on the lake everyone can sleep soundly knowing they “reduced emissions.”

    1. Like the way you think. My thoughts went the same way…. Alas rose colored glasses are everywhere these days and plenty of kook-aid drinkers.

      It is ‘novel’ experiment though .. for fun.

    2. Did HaD really delete my comment (to which I believe you were replying) on the article’s first paragraph? Wow.
      Not going to repeat it here, but as a follow-up, I will add that the audience of this site is smart enough to form their own opinions on climate matters, without having CO2 doom and gloom shoved down our throats. I had hoped that this site was decent enough to allow people to have their own opinions, and discuss them without resorting to censorship or insults.
      Was I wrong?

        1. That term ‘climate change’… Covers everything :) . The environmentalist now have a term that covers every situation for calling wolf and scaring people :) . Perfect for their religion (really what they treat is as, and force down everyone’s throat). Right now we are having a ‘long winter’, snowing right now in fact. Cooler than the norm… Ah. Climate Change. Which I don’t deny at all. Climate changes all the time. Really not that predicable… as much as some think it is. Simply a way to control people and get money for pet projects. So it goes.

        2. Well, considering that they start breeding at about age 10 and don’t stop until they are no longer physically capable… there’s going to be a lot of them for a while.

          What will eventually do them in is the ever-narrowing gene pool from all the inbreeding.

        3. .

          Re: “I´m afraid way too many species will go extinct on this planet
          before the last climate change denier.”

          Best comment I’ve seen in a long time …


  8. As someone who owned a Kawasaki SXR800 for years this seems really dumb. That hydrofoil sticking 2 feet out of the bottom means no shallow lake riding and no riding onto shore. Couldn’t they just replace the ICE in the SXR/Superjet with an electric motor and keep the same pump/impeller setup?

    1. @Will yes, you can do that but it will only have ~20 minutes of ride time on a full charge. The foils improve efficiency to the point they make the electrification feasible.

  9. I applaud the helmet worn in case of low-speed collisions with water. These should be required for anyone using rope swings or large rocks to jump into raw water or water skiing or wake-boarding. Considering reports that human immortality will be reached in 8 years, I recommend adding a HANS Device and a personal ballistic parachute.

  10. i was amused to see a 60 mile range estimate, since i was thinking more in terms of “funs between charges” that miles (my RC cars never had a range indicated in distance).

    but that reminds me, the gaps between the hawaiian islands are mostly less than 30 miles. fun to imagine using something like this for actual transport :)

  11. So-called environmentalists:

    > yay save the planet!

    Also so-called environmentalists:

    > let’s dig up hundreds of thousands of tons of the planet for each EV, using fossil fuel powered equipment… which is then processed by fossil fuel powered equipment, with no perceivable benefit to the environment whatsoever… except feel-good posturing and empty platitudes. Lithium and cobalt are all natural, right?

    1. You do know that cobalt is also used to refine diesel right?

      Many of the rare earths are also what make the high performance alloys used in engines…

      One could go on, but the point is if you think EV’s and “enviromentalists” are the only ones diggin up the earth then you would be wrong, internal combustion has the exact same issue With the exact same materials, oplyser theyvhave fuel emissions on top of All that…

    2. Ok Tucker. We heard you the first 10,000 times.
      Maybe take the M&Ms out of your ears so you can hear about brines.
      This is the reason for the construction at the Salton Sea.

  12. This is cool, but this is no in any way comparable to a jetski. It’s it’s own different thing more comparable to other foils. I am sure it will be fun in it’s own way.

    The things I love about jetskis is the ability to slide them in hard turns, jump wakes, fly into and out of water, and in general make lots of big splashes.

    This does none of that.

  13. The Pelagion HydroBlade presents a promising shift in electric personal watercraft design, utilizing hydrofoils to enhance efficiency and range. Unlike traditional jet skis, this sleek craft glides above the water, reducing drag and allowing for a longer-lasting and lighter battery pack. With electric propulsion units and a top speed of 70 km/h, the HydroBlade offers an elegant alternative for eco-conscious water enthusiasts. While still in development, its potential for a 60-mile range is impressive. Embracing innovative designs like this brings hope for a greener and more enjoyable future on the waves.

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